ARKive has recently received a collection of intriguing images from the Smithsonian Institutions WILD project, showcasing an incredible diversity of species in their natural habitats via camera trap images. The use of motion-triggered camera traps are a useful research tool for scientists, providing insight into species’ natural behaviours and are being used across the globe to help learn more about particular species, the habitats in which they live and to help design and implement conservation action.
Dr William McShea, a research ecologist for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, and one of the incredible scientists behind this project, told ARKive, “Putting these images together from different Smithsonian projects has been a lot of fun and a valuable conservation activity. I am always amazed at the seeming poses that we catch animals in as they are going through their lives and the newer video clips give many insights into behaviour and ‘attitude’. The site is intended as a searchable collection of what animals were present at a specific site and time, and to supplement the museum specimens that have proved so valuable in conservation.”
We have highlighted some of our favourite Smithsonian WILD camera trap images below.
This image of the majestic jaguar walking through the forest is one of the most stunning images found in the Smithsonian WILD collection. As the largest cat in the Americas, the jaguar is a ferocious predator. Sadly, however, it is being threatened by human activities such as hunting for pelts.
Little is known about the natural behaviour of the elusive Asiatic black bear, something which the Smithsonian WILD project aims to improve. This species of bear has a crescent shaped marking on the chest, which has led to it being called the ‘moon bear’ in some areas.
The collection features images showing interesting behaviours, such as this ocelot caught sneaking up an armadillo. The ocelot is most active at night, and has a wide ranging diet, from small mammals, birds, and reptiles, to larger animals such as agoutis, deer, and, of course, armadillos.
Caught on Camera
Another behaviour caught on camera, was the mating behaviour of the white-lipped peccary. This species is known to live in groups of as many as 200 individuals, and is a wide-ranging species that requires large areas for survival. This was obviously a well placed camera trap!
This incredible black and white image captured the moment a line of African elephants walked past a well-placed camera trap. As the largest living terrestrial animal, this gigantic species has a highly complex social structure centred around family units of females and their calves. Groups of elephants will spend the day wondering their home range in search of food and water, just like the animals in this picture.
The giraffe in this image almost seems to be looking into the camera. You can see what Dr McShea meant about these images conveying ‘attitude’, as this picture portrays real character. Giraffes are fascinating creatures that start life with a two metre drop, as they give birth standing up! This doesn’t seem to affect the calf too much, as it is able to stand within 20 minutes of being born, and can grow over 2 metres in its first year.
Beautiful bird scenery
This wonderful image shows the beautiful scenery in the blue rock-thrush’s habitat. This image was captured in China but this species has a large range as it is also present in Europe, Africa, as well as large parts of Asia. This small bird must see a lot of amazing scenery!
This just shows a snippet of the Smithsonian WILD camera trap images you can find on ARKive. And this isn’t the end for the project, says Dr McShea, “The projects and photos presented are the start of a bigger project where we hope in the next year to expand the number of Smithsonian projects and to recruit citizen scientists to add their own photos with sufficient data to be useful to conservation science.”
To find out more about the project and to see all of the camera trap images, visit the Smithsonian WILD website.
Rebecca Taylor, ARKive Media Researcher