A giant panda in the Chinese wilderness comes upon a camera attached
to a tree. Curious, it approaches the instrument and attempts to put it into its
mouth. Through the lens remotely, we catch a glimpse of the secret lives of these
Motion-triggered “camera traps” are increasingly used
by researchers to study wildlife. Their sensors register an animal’s body
heat and movement and take a picture or video clip. The cameras often are attached
to trees or posts along animal trails – placed to study ground-based animals
or birds and other creatures that inhabit the forest canopies.
A tayra in Peru near a camera that captures candid images of wildlife.
The Smithsonian Institution has launched a website for viewing photos of animals
in their natural habitats. Photos courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution.
The Washington-based Smithsonian Institution recently established
a website that brings us photographs – up close, candid and untouched –
of various elusive and rare creatures in the wild. The site allows us to see a jaguar,
clouded leopard or a golden snub-nosed monkey in its own territory. Interestingly,
visitors can scroll through photos taken at a single watering hole to view the series
of animals that have passed by.
A giant panda looks toward a camera in the Chinese wilderness.
The Smithsonian WILD! website provides more than 200,000 “candid
critter” photos of more than 200 species of mammals and birds acquired through
monitoring projects worldwide. The online collections represent seven projects conducted
by Smithsonian researchers and their colleagues, spanning the globe from the Laikipia
District in Kenya to the Appalachian Trail in Virginia, from the Panama Canal to
the Adirondacks in New York, and from the Amazon Rainforest in Peru to wilderness
tracts in Malaysia and Thailand.
A giant panda looks into the lens of a “camera trap”
positioned in the Chinese wilderness to take pictures of animals in their natural
The project at the Giant Panda Reserves in China involved a network
of more than 700 strategically placed film and digital cameras, including models
made by CamTrakker. The goal was to determine the distribution of large-mammal species
within the reserves and to help local residents monitor the animals.
At the Smithsonian’s Barro Colorado Island Nature Monument
in the Panama Canal, Republic of Panama, a survey was conducted to determine the
community of mammals occupying the region’s island/peninsulas. The project
consisted of 210 camera stations using Reconyx Inc.’s RC55 model.
The Smithsonian WILD! experience at http://siwild.si.edu can be
shared through social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. Links also are
provided from each photo to corresponding species pages in reference sources such
as the Encyclopedia of Life and the International Union for Conservation of Nature,
and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s “North American
Mammals” web pages.
Relax and enjoy nature’s diversity.
On the Web
We have a lot more critter closeups – visit Photonics.com/PhotoGallery.aspx
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