Animals in Temporary Captivity

I’ve had a similar situation. I run a conservation NGO in SE Asia and local laws require us and the park to keep any confiscated animals for a time to evaluate their health before releasing them back into the wild.

I’ve clearly stated that the animals in the photos are wild and are temporarily held before release back into the wild, but people ignore the description and just mark as captive.

Many people make an ID or mark something a certain way and never respond to other comments on the post or direct communication.

It’s annoying as hell.

Fortunately, it’s not a situation we face all that often.

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Sounds like you’re doing everything right, but in this volunteer organization people are always going to be making mistakes. I’m sorry. It’s really frustrating. Perhaps you can tag or message other observers to vote “wild” for your observations and get past the erroneous “captive” votes.

(I could easily vote “captive” in a case like this; if I do this on your observations, tag me or message me and I will change my vote.)

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this kind of thing is common on iNat and apparently one reason, based on watching friends use the site, is that many people use the app to do IDs and comments (!) and the app does not send notifications the way the website does. Though, i am not sure it is possible to mark an observation as captive using the app so that may not be the case here.

Broadly, we need to get better engagement and retention in people using the site especially those adding IDs or doing data quality analysis.

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If you can actually provide the original sighting data (location, time, date) then there is no pressing reason why these couldn’t work as regular observations, i.e. not captive/casual. Photos of the individual in captivity don’t discount the observation itself from being “wild” – you just need the circumstances of it when it was still wild.

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Right, i don’t see how it’s any different (in terms of iNat protocol) than the common occurrence of me taking plant samples or being given plant samples to identify. Yes they are often dried, or pressed, and are ‘captive’ in my hand or under a scope but… I map them with the date and location they are collected, and they are totally valid. If you are somewhat uncertain where the animal came from you can use a large uncertainty circle. If it’s totally unknown, like an illegal species intercepted at an airport from smugglers, yeah, that may need to be captive, i guess.

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No, there isn’t a way to vote on DQA items when just viewing the thumbnail. When you click a thumbnail image, the pop-up/modal shows the larger images, date/time, map, description, IDs, and comments. Then there is a separate tab on the pop-up, after viewing the above, for the DQA.

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We can pretty much always identify within a few hundred meters, of where the animals were taken from in the wild and confiscations in this case are not from pet trade, they’re from poachers and generally take place a few hours after the poaching event. Often as the poachers are returning from the forest, or when they are attempting to transfer them off the island.

In any case, we are on an island and all the of the animals come from this island, so the exact location isn’t all that important considering that the island is only 27 km by 23 km (roughly) and the wildlife is more-or-less evenly distributed across it.

We keep the animals for at most 2 days, generally far less, often only a few hours. Whenever possible I insist on a field evaluation and an immediate release as the holding facilities are poor.

In our situation, in my opinion, there is no justification for marking the animals captive.

Of course, we are in something of a unique position and many others are not in this same situation. That said, for on-the-ground conservation organizations and wildlife rescue operations this is not an uncommon position to be in.

While I approve of a vote system in general, there are times where I feel that obviously wrong votes (or identifications) should be over-ruled by the initial observer, especially when the other party refuses to respond to communication.

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?
On the Identify page, I have to be in the popup to actually make an ID or click the “captive/cultivated” checkbox, and I see the description in the popup.

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My apologies, I thought it could be done on the thumbnails.

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You’re right. These animals shouldn’t be marked “captive.” However, this kind of error is one of the costs of a volunteer organization, where people don’t necessarily understand the system. Hopefully this cost is outweighed by the good (lots of data at low cost) but it can be frustrating.

You and others can vote “wild” and I think (I may be wrong) that can eventually outvote the “captive” votes.

I don’t know – Is it possible to flag the observation for curation and ask for an override? Should the possibility be added? Are curators already overwhelmed with work?

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Curators can not ‘override’ the input of another user. We have no ability to edit or delete DQA votes or any other input from a user. All we can do is vote as well, and our vote counts the same as every other vote. The user adding an offsetting vote has the same impact we can have.

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I thought so. A good thing overall, though occasionally a problem.

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Maybe the problem is that “wild” <-> “captive” is a false dichotomy, and that can be confusing. The options should probably be “wild” or “domestic” and “free” or “captive”. The typical zoo animal would be (wild, captive). A feral cat would be (domestic, free), it would help in this case to have an “introduce species” flag. Pets like cats and dogs would be (domestic, captive). While free/captive seems to be a clear choice most of the time, wild/domestic can be ambiguous.

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there is an introduced species flag, but it goes by place not by individual observation. And yeah, it’s all grey areas, but we just have to draw a line somewhere and what we do works as well as anything. There are lots of other threads that get into this too.

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This sounds promising but I don’t think it would change much. People seeing a cat will tick captive + domestic anyway, if they normally mark them captive/cultivated.

So if mammals at a rehabilitation center that were wild, and will be released into the wild again, can be marked “wild” instead of “captive,” then what about reared caterpillars/pupae/moths? Seems like essentially the same situation—the individual(s) were wild and will be wild again (for those of us who release the adult moths and butterflies). I’ve seen some users marking these observations captive, and some not. I’d be in favor of considering them wild myself, since this wouldn’t harm the data in any way I can see, assuming the location of the obs is where the specimens were gathered. Also, it would have the significant benefit of causing more larvae and pupae (usually the ones with the most conclusive IDs) to show up in Explore, thus helping others identify their own. Thoughts?

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An animal temporarily in captivity, however you define temporary, is wild if it was taken from the wild. This could include animals in rehab, or being reared to an adult stage, or being held for photos. I think the key factor is that the animal originated in the wild and has location data from where it was taken.

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In the case of rearing caterpillars to adult, there is no way of knowing if that organism would have survived to that stage had it not been for captivity and exclusion of predators. The observation “at the point in time of capture” can be marked or treated as wild, but by the time it pupates it has benefited from the protection of the captor, so is no longer wild. Once released, at the moment and place of release I would consider it captive, but if seen subsequent to that then I would consider it wild.

I think it is the same for animals too, but this is just my understanding of what wild/captive means. I think as long as you have read the iNat guidelines, put thought into what others have said, and act in good faith, however you choose to set the captive/wild flag is fine as we all get a vote and the system determines an aggregate position from those votes.

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What also comes along with raising short lived invertebrates is that their developmental time might be changed in captivity, so that they might be e.g. ahead of their natural time of hatching

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Hmm. I can see some merit to the argument about reared caterpillars developing at different rates, but I’m not sure it’s significant enough in most cases; caterpillars in the wild develop at varying rates, too, depending on them as individuals, the quality of the host plant, and maybe whether they’ve found natural/artificial warm spots. I would make an exception for species being reared during freezing temperatures, since those are times when their development schedule could be thrown off significantly—they should probably be marked captive.

As for whether the particular individuals reared would have survived in the wild or not, that doesn’t seem to me to matter, as long as some member of their species could have survived there at that time–which seems highly likely, if there were adults laying eggs then. (For those following the comparison, note that rehabilitated animals might not have survived either without intervention.) It’s not like we’re trying to track each individual moth on iNat–just the presence of populations.

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