TRACKING feral mountain goats up the craggy cliffs of the Llŷn Peninsula is no easy challenge, as the BBC’s Matt Baker found out when he visited a new project that is monitoring the local population.
Lee Oliver, project manager for the national conservation charity Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust Cymru (GWCT), invited the former One Show host to set up the first trail camera to capture the wild goats as they use the natural features to hurdle fences. Thankfully, the project is partnering with Liverpool John Moores University, which is using its advanced ‘deep learning’ software to identify goats in the photos collected. “You get thousands of shots” explains Lee, “capturing mice and rabbits and things. This saves a lot of time analysing photographs!”.
The study site surrounds the Nant Gwrtheyrn Welsh language centre and is utilising the expertise of local landowners, farmers and the Llŷn Peninsula Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty along with a host of other monitoring methods, as Lee Oliver explains: “We’re doing all we can to get an accurate picture. In addition to the trail cameras, we’ll be undertaking drone surveys, fitting tracking collars and engaging the local community to count them together”.
Funded by the AONB Sustainable Development Fund, the short project runs until November, but those involved are keen to make it part of a longer research initiative. Sue Evans, Director Cymru at the GWCT, outlined their desire to keep working in the area: “There is so much we would like to do, but as ever it comes down to funding. Analysing faecal pellets would give us a real insight, as the GWCT has proven with its leading research into fox populations. Hopefully, a TV audience of 4 million people will only help our cause.”
The project was broadcast on Sunday 30 May and you can watch the episode here – https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000wn8z/countryfile-lln-peninsula