02 October 2005

This is Wild!

Really! National Geographic has set up a webcam at "Pete's Pond," a watering hole in Botswana, that captures wildlife... well, in the wild. It makes for fascinating viewing as critters large and small stop by for a drink. Or a bath. Or whatever.
Linking the live WildCam Africa Internet video camera from one of the most remote locations in southern Africa to a satellite hovering 22,500 miles (36,200 kilometers) above the Earth’s equator was the easy part. The challenge was how to keep baboons from messing with the camera, prevent insects from slithering inside the computer, and protect the whole setup from curious elephants. National Geographic spent weeks looking for someone who had done it before. Trouble was, nobody had. But Cameron Murie came close enough.

Murie, who calls himself a “geek in the bush,” operates a computer and information system business in Musina, South Africa. He is also responsible for designing a radio-based computer network linking the various camps at Mashatu Game Reserve. “Things that are commonplace in an urban environment are difficult to achieve in the bush,” says Murie. “A project like WildCam—with a satellite hook-up that provides streaming video—has never been done in this area. Getting a good quality connection here is expensive and challenging at best.”

“You have to animal- and insect-proof everything,” says Murie. “Otherwise, it’s a real problem. In this place if you get a bug in the system, it really is a bug.”
(Seen at BoingBoing. Note: RealPlayer browser plug-in required.)
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