Help find the wild things: citizen scientists needed to spot wildlife caught on camera

ABC projects, National Science Week


Australian wildlife scientists need your eyeballs this August to help them study where Australia’s wild things are for Wildlife Spotter—the ABC’s citizen science project for National Science Week.

Australia is a vast country. Researchers have set up automatic cameras that are snapping wildlife day and night. Now they need your help to analyse the millions of photographs they’ve captured in tropical rainforests, the dry rangelands, and around our cities.

From superb lyrebirds to common wombats, from bettongs to bandicoots, from brush turkeys to Tassie devils, and even feral cats and foxes—scientists want to know which species are roaming both in the wild and in urban areas. Participants will help answer questions including: how many endangered bettongs are left; how well native predators like quolls and devils are competing with cats for food; and how common are common wombats.

You can join in by heading to the Wildlife Spotter website at

Click on images for high-res versions

You can spot wildlife for ten minutes or ten hours—every animal identified will help our scientists. Should you need extra help, you can click through a short online tutorial.

As well as helping us understand living Australia, you could win one of two Go Pro Hero 4 cameras. School participants could win a visit from Dr Karl. Register to enter the competition, which is open until Monday 5 September.

Wildlife Spotter runs from Monday 1 August onwards.

Wildlife Spotter is the online citizen science project for National Science Week 2016, undertaken by ABC Science in conjunction with the Australian Museum, Deakin University, Charles Darwin University, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Tasmanian Land Conservancy, and WWF Australia. It is supported by funding through the Australian Government Inspiring Australia strategy.

Fifteen ecologists, zoologists, scientists and science communicators from around the country are available for interviews about Wildlife Spotter.

Read on for information about their projects. Media kit, images, and other resources at

To organise interviews, contact:

More about the project

Sign up at the Wildlife Spotter website at

There you’ll find instructions for classifying the different species in the images. You’ll be allocated photographs to study.

Your first batch should take no more than a few minutes to analyse. But you can do as many as you like. Each image will be classified by five different people to see if the results agree.

Everyone with regular vision and a computer or tablet with access to the internet can get involved and help our scientists find out who lives in our wild and urban areas.

Participants can get started straight away, and they can register for a chance win a Go Pro Hero 4 camera. And schools have the chance to win a visit from Dr Karl Kruszelnicki to their school.

Our vast country represents a huge area for field scientists to cover if they’re to monitor numbers and health of wildlife species in our changing environment.

Automated cameras, or ‘camera traps’, help scientists cover a lot of ground and observe animals in their natural environment by sensing movement, which triggers a photo to be taken. And they work through the night, with infrared or heat-sensing cameras.

With cameras like these set up all over Australia, millions of photos are generated, creating a huge picture of the different species that live around us. But scientists need help to go through all of the photos.

The projects you’ll be supporting

  • Bandicoots in south-central Victoria – a pocket of threatened bandicoots are thriving on Victoria’s urban fringes – how are they doing this? And what happens when they start living in drains and eating out of cat food bowls? Help monitor their population and keep an eye on their predators.
  • Marsupials in Tasmania – Tasmanian Land Conservancy manages about 15 biodiversity reserves to protect these unique species. Help their conservation scientists keep an eye on bandicoots, bettongs and potoroos—and the threats to them, such as feral cats and deer—so they can better manage these sanctuaries for wildlife.
  • Northern bettongs in Far North Queensland – Australia’s rat-kangaroo is a rare marsupial. Help scientists work out how many of this threatened species are left.
  • Animals in NSW – How many wombats, pademelons, kangaroos, foxes and other animals are out there? We simply don’t know. Help the ‘WildCount’ scientists find out.
  • Northern Territory’s arid zone – What wild things—such as dingos, emus, lizards, spinifex pigeons, kangaroos and mice—are living in the arid lands? Counting animals at waterholes in Watarrka National Park and the desert in Kata Tjuta National Park will help scientists manage these biodiversity hotspots.
  • Managing malleefowl – How often are foxes visiting the native malleefowl’s large mound nest of earth and decomposing leaf litter? And how can we help keep them safe?

Read more about these projects at