Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Susy VarugheseVivek Puliyeri, Indian Institute of Technology Madras

The campus of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras in Chennai stretches over 2.5 square kilometres, and many of the students and university employees live on it. They share the space with lots of wild animals that move around freely. Here, Susy Varughese and Vivek Puliyeri installed two cameras for Triggered by Motion.

Large areas of the campus were originally part of the rigorously protected Guindy National Park. Now that the land belongs to the university, IIT Madras is working to preserve its unique biodiversity. Besides antelopes, deer, mongooses, macaques, and numerous bird species, there are also pangolins and star tortoises living there, which are endangered. 

There are multiple steps taken to protect the biodiversity at IIT Madras. For example, an environment monitoring committee oversees any construction activity that happens inside the campus to ensure the corridors used by wild animals such as blackbuck and spotted deer are not cut off and their habitats are not disturbed. Dead trees are allowed to stand for bird nesting purposes, and all wild fruits growing on the campus are left for wildlife. Additionally, students, employees and residents are given orientation and awareness programmes through lectures and nature walks to generate interest in protecting the biodiversity on campus.

The two camera traps that Susy Varughese and Vivek Puliyeri installed and maintained here for Triggered by Motion captured this biodiversity beautifully. The footage shows many Spotted deer (Axis axis), Blackbuck (Antelope cervicapra), Indian jackals (Canis aureus), and Indian grey mongoose (Urva edwardsii). One of the cameras recorded bonnet macaques (Macaca radiata), which are common on campus. There also are many wild birds: In the winter months, migratory birds visit the campus from places quite far like the Himalayas, the North Western regions of the Indian Subcontinent, Europe, and North and Central Asian countries.

Pangolins and star tortoises were never observed during the whole year, nor were snakes recorded by the cameras.