African Field School on Design and Analyses of Camera Trap Studies – 2023

This is a 12-day active training course in Kruger National Park, South Africa. Participants will learn the principles of camera trapping for research and conservation science, including how to design, collect, and process camera trap data to answer ecological questions and obtain standardised reports. During the course participants will deploy camera traps in the National Park and can spend their evenings and free time connecting with other camera trappers and researchers surrounded by the sounds of the African bush. The course is an official short learning programme offered by the Nelson Mandela University.

Photo by Jos Louw

What We Will Cover

  • Camera trap models, functionality, and deployment considerations, a brief review of how camera traps have been used in the past and present for research and monitoring
  • How to organise camera trap surveys and data collection in the field with practice deploying camera traps in Kruger National Park
  • An introduction to R and its use in camera trap research, including an overview of image processing and various methods for the extraction of data from camera trap images, including overviews of machine learning models and image classification platforms
  • Exploration and organisation of camera trap datasets to create standardised reports
  • Study designs and data analysis for a wide range of wildlife monitoring strategies, research questions, and statistical models
  • Statistical analyses to estimate various ecological parameters (i.e., occupancy, abundance, density, activity rates)
  • Visualisation and interpretation of results from model outputs
  • Space to organize your own study or analyse your own camera trap data with the help of peers and course lecturers.

Course Details


8 – 19 June 2023 (arrival 7 June and departure 20 June)


Skukuza Science Leadership Initiative Campus, Skukuza, Kruger National Park, South Africa


$1,750 – including course fees, accommodation, all meals. Participants are responsible for their own travel arrangements.


The course is limited to 20 participants and is open to graduate students and conservation professionals. 


The 2023 course is full. Keep a lookout for the 2024 announcement. Please contact Dr Rob Davies if you have any enquiries s226043789 [at]


This course is designed to give participants a complete understanding of how to use camera traps for research and conservation management of wildlife, particularly terrestrial mammals. We will cover the most important theoretical and practical aspects of camera trapping, with an emphasis on ecological questions and monitoring. Modules range from a general introduction to camera traps and their increasing use in ecological research, to sampling design considerations and applying a suite of ecological modelling techniques to camera trap data. Instructors will teach common models that are put to widespread use in ecology and conservation biology and can be applied to a range of data types and research questions.

Participants are encouraged to bring their own datasets, on which expert course lecturers will provide feedback and assistance. Uniquely, this course also offers the opportunity to deploy camera traps in Kruger National Park, collect the data, and use it during the course to provide hands-on experience in managing and processing camera trap data. Some of the ecological tools that will be taught include biodiversity analyses (inventories, species richness), occupancy, and density/abundance estimation, with a special focus on the use of camera traps for monitoring purposes based on the Snapshot Safari project, Africa’s largest camera trap network.

Photo by Jos Louw

What’s Included?

The total cost for professional training covers:

  • All lecture materials, demonstration code and data, field equipment
  • Time with expert researchers to discuss your own research study and questions
  • Game drive in Kruger National Park
  • Accommodation, all meals, tea and coffee
  • A field guide to African mammals (included)
  • Shirt and hat (optional extra)


This intensive 12-day training course will take place in the stunning surroundings of Kruger National Park, South Africa. As the course is based inside a National Park containing the Big Five, participants are given the opportunity to study and gain field experience surrounded by African wildlife. Attendees will get the opportunity to deploy camera traps in the National Park and spend their evenings and free time connecting with other camera trappers and researchers surrounded by the sounds of the African bush. Participants must bring their own laptop.

Course Tutors

This course is taught by experienced camera trappers from South African and international institutions, including Nelson Mandela University, University of Fort Hare, University of Minnesota and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Course tutors have experience camera trapping over multiple continents and applying ecological models to a wide range of taxa.

Prof Jan A Venter. Associate Professor & HOD, Department of Conservation Management, Nelson Mandela University. Research focus in Wildlife Conservation Ecology. Lead investigator for SnapshotSafari since inception.

Role: Course leader.

Dr Lain E. Pardo. Research Associate, Nelson Mandela University. Biodiversity and Ecology Specialist, 10 years of experience in Camera Trapping (Colombia, Costa Rica, Australia, South Africa).

Role: Tutor

Dr Rob Davis. Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Nelson Mandela University. Ten years of camera trap experience across Africa and the UK, with a focus on large carnivore ecology and population estimation methods.

Role: Tutor

Course enquiries: s226043789 [at]

Dr Craig J. Tambling. Senior Lecturer and Head of Department, University of Fort Hare. Over ten years of camera trap experience with a research focus on large carnivore ecology and large mammal predator-prey interactions. 

Role: Tutor

Dr Sarah E. Huebner. Research Manager of Snapshot Safari and Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Nelson Mandela University. Expertise in machine learning, citizen science, and data curation plus six years of camera trap experience.

Role: Tutor

Dr Tim R. Hofmeester. Researcher at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå, Sweden. Specialist on Digital Wildlife Monitoring (incl. 12 years of camera-trap methods development), Quantitative Ecology and Small Carnivore Biology.

Role: Tutor

Dr Nicholas Osner. TrapTagger project lead, WildEye Conservation. Four years of experience heading the development of TrapTagger – software that is at the forefront of using AI to process camera-trap images.

Role: Tutor

Dr Lucie Thel. Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Nelson Mandela University. Expertise in R and statistical modelling to answer ecological questions.

Role: Tutor

The Skukuza Science Leadership Initiative Campus