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Wild cats captured by hidden cameras

Leopardus pardalis (Ocelot). Volcan Barva, Costa Rica.
(This image is one of nearly 52,000 photos of 105 mammal species, taken as part of the first global camera trap mammal study done by The Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring Network (TEAM) )


Wild animals don't like humans and donít act naturally while humans are around. So if you really want a glimpse of how they really live you have to do it while the animals donít know you are looking. And this is where hidden cameras come into play. This is the thinking behind what Conservation International set out to do. The project started in 2008 with 480 hidden automatic cameras placed in seven different countries in some of the most remote areas in the world.

The cameras are camouflaged and do not use flashphotography. They, are heat sensitive, so when they detect something warm nearby they snap a picture. So far the cameras have captured about 52,000 images and snapshots of 105 species including many wild cats. The study is headed by Jorge Ahumada, technical director of the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring Network. he explains it is a vital tool for the study of animals in their true native environment. Many of the animals photographed are very shy of humans and are much better at hiding from us than we are at finding them.

The cameras can spy on animals during the night just as well as they can during the day. This allows fascinating insights into the life of rare cats, because many of these cats are most active at night and it is often very difficult to study them with conventional methods.

Some of the images from the hidden cameras including the one shown here, were released this August . The first results from the study itself are just about to be published (see reference below).


Jorge A. Ahumada1, Carlos E. F. Silva, Krisna Gajapersad, Chris Hallam, Johanna Hurtado, Emanuel Martin, Alex McWilliam, Badru Mugerwa, Tim O'Brien, Francesco Rovero, Douglas Sheil, Wilson R. Spironello, Nurul Winarni and Sandy J. Andelman. Community structure and diversity of tropical forest mammals: data from a global camera trap network. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, (2011), vol. 366, 2703-2711.

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