Season 8 Release!

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for …  Can I present to you:



I’m particularly proud of this, the first season that I’ve helped to bring all the way from the field to your computers. We’ve got a lot of data here, and I can’t wait for you guys to discover a whole host of exciting things in this new season.

This season is accompanied by IMPORTANT changes to our interface!

There’s a few more bits of data we think we can pull out of the camera trap photos this time around, in addition to all the great information we already get. One thing we’re particularly interested in is the occurrence of fire. Now, fire is no fun for camera traps (because they tend to melt), but these wildfires are incredibly important to the cycle of ecosystem functioning in Serengeti. Burns refresh the soil and encourage new grass growth, which attracts herbivores and may in turn draw in the predators. We have added a fire checkbox for you to tick if things look hot. Now, because we’re looking for things other than just animals, we replaced your option to click on “nothing there” with “no animals visible“, just to avoid confusion.

Some of the more savvy creature-identifiers among you may have noticed that there are a few Serengeti animals that wander into our pictures that we didn’t have options for. For this new season, we’ve added six new animal choices: duiker, steenbok, cattle, bat, insect/spider, and vultures. Keep an eye out for the following:



This season runs all the way from September 2013 until July 2014, when I retrieved them this summer, my first field season. Our field assistants, Norbert and Daniel, were invaluable (and inhumanly patient) in helping me learn to navigate the plains, ford dry river beds, and avoid, as much as possible, driving the truck into too many holes. Together, we set out new cameras, patched up some holes in our camera trap grid, and spent some amazing nights camped out in the bush.

Once I got the hang of the field, I spend my mornings running around to a subset of the cameras conducting a pilot playback experiment to see if I could artificially “elevate” the predation risk in an area by making it seem as though it were frequented by lions (I’m interested in the reactions of the lion’s prey, and to see whether they change their behaviors in these areas and how long it takes them to go back to normal). I’m more than a bit camera-shy (and put a lot of effort into carefully sneaking up around the cameras’ blind spots) but perhaps you’ll catch a rare glimpse of me waving my bullhorn around blaring lion roars…

Back in the lab, there’s been a multi-continental collaboration to get these data cleaned up and ready for identification. We’ve been making some changes to the way we store our data, and the restructuring, sorting, and preparing process has been possible only through the substantial efforts of Margaret, over here with me in the States, and Ali, all the way across the pond, running things from the Zooniverse itself!

But for now, our hard work on this season is over – it’s your turn! Dig in!

P.S. Our awesome developers have added some fancy code, so the site looks great even on small phone and tablet screens. Check it out!


17 responses to “Season 8 Release!”

  1. leeece2014 says :

    Woohoo! Looking forward to it!

  2. zooz says :

    It would save time if the user could move between the 3 frames by interacting with the little selection circles via the scroll wheel, so that you don’t have to take your eyes from the frames, especially when looking for animals in the bushes or in the distance. Maybe something can be done with an AutoHotkey script.

    • Margaret Kosmala says :

      That’s a cool idea. Not sure our developers will have time to implement it, but I’ll put it on the ‘desired features’ list. Thanks!

    • Margaret Kosmala says :

      The developers say: “Frames can be selected via the keyboard by pressing 1,2 and 3 to select a frame, or space-bar to toggle play/pause.”

      Hope that’s a little bit helpful.

  3. DrNick says :

    The “Often confused with” element is great, but on having found that I was confused it is not possible to select directly the correct suggested animal. Instead I had to find my way back to the original list (by pressing the scary Cancel button) and start from the begging.

  4. pmetcalfe2014 says :

    I hope this is not silly, but sometimes I see pictures with an animal so close that it is rather difficult to see what it is (it might just be a leg). I hate saying there is nothing there rather than making a wrong guess, so could there be a checkbox for say – Unable to identify.


  5. Janine says :

    how long will this season be available for? I am a teacher and want to do it with my class, but can’t start straight away.

    • Margaret Kosmala says :

      Hi Janine,

      We never know how long the seasons will be fully up for, because it’s based on how fast all our wonderful volunteer classify. Right now a bit more than a quarter of the images have been identified. So I would guess that we’ve got another three or four weeks before the season is fully classified.

      After that there will still be images, though. What we’ve done in the past is that when a season is “complete,” we put back in all the images that have animals in them (but not those without animals) for additional classifications. These additional classifications help us figure out the really hard images. And it allows interested volunteers and teachers to continue using the site. So you will be able to use the site anytime!

      Please let me know if you do decide to use Snapshot Serengeti in your class. We love hearing about how it’s being used for education, but since it’s a public site, we don’t always hear about its use. You can post to any blog or send me a message in Talk or email me — just do a Google search on my name for my web page and my email address is on my CV.


  6. abby says :

    I look forward to doing it!

  7. Aleksandra says :

    You should add something about the “fire” checkbox in the tutorial. It’s very mysterious and I had to search for quite a bit before I found this post!

  8. Freyja says :

    Should I mark “fire” if I only see smoke coming out of the ground or recently burned grass?

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