New Citizen-Science Project, Snapshot Safari, Launches

two pictures of animals, one of a lion, and one of a mother elephant and calf

Snapshot Safari (, a citizen-science project created by the University of Minnesota’s Lion Center, launched in February 2018. The Lion Center is headed by MSI PI Craig Packer, a Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior (College of Biological Sciences) and a well-known lion expert. The project allows the public to identify wildlife caught by hundreds of camera traps in several African sites as part of an international census of African mammals.

Visitors to the site can explore Tanzania, Mozambique, and South Africa through camera-traps spread through the first six reserves. More sites from other countries in eastern and southern Africa will be added to the platform for users to investigate from the comfort of their home, office, or local library. Once the wildlife and their behaviors have been identified, that information can be used by scientists, researchers, and conservationists to better understand, conserve, and protect biodiversity in the participating reserves. There are thousands of images in need of classification. Snapshot Safari is part of the Zooniverse citizen-science platform.

MSI is supporting this project in a number of ways. MSI resources are used to run code involved with image processing, and MSI provides database hosting. MSI also provides storage for the images, which require several terabytes’ worth of storage space. Two MSI staff members, Dr. Michael Milligan (Assistant Director for Application Development) and Dr. Ben Lynch (Senior Scientific Computing Consultant) have provided consulting services. Some of these services were paid for with an Updraft Award provided by the University of Minnesota Informatics Institute, which is one of MSI’s partners in the Research Computing group of the Office of the Vice President for Research.

MSI also supported the previous project, Snapshot Serengeti, which classified images taken in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. That project was featured on the MSI website in July 2015: Wildlife in the Serengeti.

Image description: Left: Lion. Right: Elephant calf and mother. Both pictures courtesy Snapshot Serengeti and the University of Minnesota Lion Center.

posted on February 21, 2018

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