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Wild candid cameras capture animals at home

Cameras triggered by motion control sensors are a great way to capture photos of wild animals without being too intrusive in their habitat.

The Smithsonian Institution has brought together “animal-cam” images from around the world, in a gallery that features wild animals exactly as they were photographed, sometimes looking quite surprised, in the wild.

Wild animals are shy by nature and would prefer to have nothing to do with us in the wild. This makes it especially challenging to monitor rare species like snow leopards and pandas, to name two. Camera traps are being increasingly used as a tool to study animal diversity and behavior.

A snow leopard (Uncia uncia) in China. The camera was located in a giant panda nature preserve to determine the distribution of large mammal species. Photo Credit: Smithsonian

A golden snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana) in China. The camera was located in a giant panda nature preserve to determine the distribution of large mammal species. Photo credit: Smithsonian

Wiliam McShea, a research wildlife biologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, said in a press release,

Not every photo is beautiful but every photo provides information that can be used to conserve wild animals. It is addictive to scroll through the photos at a single site and see the diversity that walks by a single camera in the forest.

Motion-triggered camera traps are usually secured to trees or posts, in a variety of locations ranging from forest trails to near sources of water like ponds. Sensors detect an animal’s body heat and movement, which sets off anywhere from one to a series of photographs to capture the animal in its view. A video about how it’s done, courtesy of the New York State Museum, is available below.

So check out the Smithsonian wild animal cam gallery, and enjoy the many images of these amazing creatures during unguarded moments in the wild taken by motion-triggered cameras. It’s a great way to learn about the breathtaking biodiversity of our planet, and is a rare chance to observe natural behaviors in the wild.

A jaguar (Panthera onca) photographed in the Peruvian Amazon. The camera was used to survey medium- and large-sized mammals in a previously unstudied part of the Amazon, and to learn more about how oil exploration in the region affects carnivore activity. Photo Credit: Smithsonian

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