See what the researchers see

snow leopard

Have you ever watched a documentary featuring a wildlife scientist and wished you had access to the photos they get to see courtesy of their camera traps?

Thanks to the Smithsonian, now you can. The Smithsonian Wild site currently holds over 200,000 photos from camera traps all over the world, and invites everyone to explore.

The use of motion-triggered ‘camera traps’ has become an incredibly useful tool for scientists to answer an enormous range of conservation and ecological questions. Researchers attach these unique cameras to posts or trees, often along forest trails, and when a camera’s sensor registers an animal’s body heat and movement, a photograph is taken. The studies highlighted here demonstrate the range of applications of this method, and how these cameras give us a glimpse into an animal world that is rarely seen by anyone. You can search the site by following the trail of interesting animals or the lure of diverse sites around the world.

As the site notes, the images vary considerably in aesthetic quality depending on what type of camera is used and what the researcher is attempting to record. And of course there are plenty of images of just a tail, or a hind leg.

It’s a definite time killer, and a great way to lure impressionable young minds into the wonders of science. Look at the tail on that snow leopard! Just the sort of thing an animal might need if it were making great leaps…

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About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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