Last week I stumbled across a neat new web site from the Smithsonian Institution called Smithsonian WILD. It features a collection of more than 200,000 photos taken by researches using trail cameras to study wildlife populations in nine different locations around the world. The site is the brainchild of William McShea, a senior research science at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., who designed it to “showcase the exciting research conducted by the Smithsonian Institution and its collaborators around the world, and to highlight the incredible diversity of wildlife that exists in a range of habitats across the globe.” When I called him up to ask if we could run a selection of the photos on our site, he was more than happy to oblige. “Hunters are driving the market for trail cam technology, and and that has translated into direct benefits for our research,” he said. “You can run as many as you like.” What follows are our picks for the 100 best shots from their collection. Enjoy! -- Nate Matthews, Online Editor, fieldandstream.com
Location: Amazon Rainforest
Arabela River, Peru
Cameras Used: Reconyx RC55
Number of Camera Stations: 23
Objectives: This camera survey had two objectives: 1) To inventory medium to large-sized mammal species in a previously unstudied region of the Peruvian Amazon, and 2) To investigate the impact of oil exploration on carnivore movement and activity, with a particular focus on the ocelot (Leopardus pardalis).
Species: Ocelot & Armadillo
Species Description: The ocelot, also known as the Dwarf Leopard, McKenney's Wildcat, Jaguatirica (in Brazil), Jaguarete (in Paraguay and Argentina), Tigrillo (in Ecuador, Colombia and Peru), Cunaguaro (in Venezuela), or Manigordo (in Costa Rica and Panama) is a wild cat distributed over South and Central America and Mexico, but has been reported as far north as Texas and in Trinidad, in the Caribbean. North of Mexico, it is found regularly only in the extreme southern part of Texas, although there are rare sightings in Southern Arizona.
The ocelot is similar in appearance to a domestic cat. Its fur resembles that of a Clouded Leopard or Jaguar and was once regarded as particularly valuable. As a result, hundreds of thousands of ocelots were once killed for their fur.
The ocelot ranges from 27 to 39 inches in length, plus 10 to 18 inches of tail length, and typically weighs 18 to 22 pounds, although much larger individuals have occasionally been recorded, making it the largest of the generally dainty Leopardus wild cat genus. It has the lowest resting body temperature of any feline.
The ocelot is mostly nocturnal and very territorial. It will fight fiercely, sometimes to the death, in territorial disputes. In addition, the cat marks its territory with especially pungent urine. Like most felines, it is solitary, usually meeting only to mate. However, during the day it rests in trees or other dense foliage, and will occasionally share its spot with another ocelot of the same sex.
Source: Wikipedia/Encyclopedia of Life
These 100 photos were taken by Smithsonian Institute-affiliated wildlife researchers in China, South America, Southeast Asia, and six other study locations around the globe. “Our hope is that while you are being entertained by the amazing photographs, you will also learn about the animals, their diverse habitats, and what is being done to conserve them,” says the Institute. Visit the Smithsonian WILD web site for more information about the photos, the studies they were taken for, and the Smithsonian Institute’s wildlife conservation efforts.