Camera Trap Photos of Wild Cats

This is a series of camera trap photographs of several species of wild cat. There is also a picture of a domestic cat in this series. The photographs of the jaguar, jaguarundi and ocelot were taken in Peru. The leopard cat and snow leopard were photographed in China. The domestic cat was photographed in New York. The African golden cat was photographed in Africa but I am not sure which country but it will be one of the countries that are just below the Sahara desert that cut across the middle of Africa.

All the photos bar one were taken by siwild (Smithsonian Wild). The photo of the African golden cat was taken by Phil Henschel in 2002 (Panthera Cats on Flickr).

I spent a bit of time improving the photographic quality and framing of these photographs as allowed under the creative commons license. Of course visitors are free to download the adjusted images for their own use provided the original license is adhered to.  That is, they are free to be used under the existing license which you can see when you click on the above links.

The pictures below are thumbnails. If you click them you are taken to a large format version and some more text and a link.

Camera traps capture the cat in a way that conventional photography cannot. You have a sense of the what it is really like for the wild cats.

There is little or no composition. The photographs are not about making a beautiful photograph. However, they can have a certain sort of beauty due to the raw wild feel of these photographs. Most photos of wild cats are of captive cats. Often these cats look bored. The brain has been dulled. When you look at the expressions on these cats you see a very alert cat. Wild cats are considered to be smarter and more alert than domestic cats because they have to use their brain more to survive.

Camera traps are used to record movements of wildcats and as part of a counting process. It is difficult to count the numbers of wild cats. For rare endangered species it is important to track population sizes. Mistakes have been made, usually on the optimistic side.

PoC has made charitable grants to the Smithsonian Institute.

6 thoughts on “Camera Trap Photos of Wild Cats”

  1. These cats are beautiful. Even the domestic one looks lovely in this series of photos. I’m so sad to hear about the Margay’s mum. Thats just so cruel and mean. Who still buys fur like that? You certainly can’t wear it in the West. I started a discussion about this at my workplace. Two people had furs, one from a Jaguar and one from a Mink. Both were very old and passed down through the family. Both people said they would never wear them, nor would they sell them. Useless but beautiful and yet horrible things. Anyway, we came to the conclusion that it must be nouveau uber riche Russians or people from non western countries who stil want to buy this stuff and create a market for it. There are many extremely rich Russians in Switzerland and they have the worst and most expensive taste you could ever imagine. It’s a joke. And they sure like to show off about it too. There are people out there who I could imagine wanting and paying for the fur of an endangered cat. The punishment for being involved in that should be so severe that people don’t want to risk it.

    Divorce law in England is very special and like no other as I understand it Michael. I know a few people caught up in some silly situations because the spouse is using overseas residence and offshore banks to cut the other one out totally using the quirls of English divorce law to get away with it. I sit behind a desk for my job and sometimes I think I should be outside. I love the nature too and went through periods of my life where I stuck to good and well paid gardening jobs. This made me very happy and satisfied at the end of the day but its seasonal so thats was a down point. I would love to be working for an organisation out there in the field trying to help animals for example. Or if I lived in a place with a feral cat problem I would for sure be helping with that during all my spare time and even make a job of it somehow and be able to survive. I have realised now that helping cats is something I could wake up and do every day and never get tired of it. I guess its taken me 35 years to get to this realisation. Ironically I find myself in a place where I can’t even volunteer at the shelter because there is a waiting list to volunteer! I am going to find my way with this. I will find something I can do to help. There are stray cats here and its not perfect so I will find my way to help. I was thinking to at least foster. But I work so I wouldn’t be around enough for it to be ideal. One day I will move south to the seaside probably and there I will set up a cat sanctuary for cats people don’t want or who have health issues. 5 years ago I did not know this of myself. So I guess I’m lucky to know and have a lot of time ahead of me. I must just work and get the funds and find a good moment perhaps based on an initial job offer in the right place, and I will do it. I will move away from cold northern Europe to somewhere more mild. In the nature. And then I can start work on my cat sanctuary. This is what I want to do in the long run and its as clear in my mind as the light of day. Hopefully in 15 years I’ll be able to report on it! I don’t have enough money to be able to donate in the way you have Michael. So I have never looked into the details of the projects I’d want to donate to. I don’t know the systems they are using to try and help endangered cats.

    Perhaps this is why its abstract to me and I feel so sad and hopeless when an article appears on POC about the end of the Scottish Wildcat or the doom of the Margay. Sometimes I think if people knew that there are systems in place or theory that could save these animals. Then they might not feel helpless and be motivated to donate. If somebody knew that 100 grand would pay off all the people shooting at snow leopards in Mongolia because it woud pay for their cattle killed by the leopards then people might think ‘gosh, thats what it comes down to – we can really help this situation for a period of time and its not much money if you have enough people to join in’.

    These photos are great. For once, as you say, they show expressions of animals not in captivity, but in the wild. To see such an animal in the wild must be a rare and magical experience.

    • You make a lot of good points here, Marc. It can hard to find and stay in work you like but a lot effort to do that is worth it. We have one life. And, yes, it doesn’t take that much money to change conservation and yet the super rich prefer to buy another yacht costing hundreds of millions. There are some very rich Indian people and yet the tiger is dying out in India. Mind you that is also a political matter. The market is still there for cat furs even though it is illegal or banned by CITES. I agree that Russians are a major problem. They have a different sense of morality. Look at Syria. And they always stick with China. The Chinese government has a dubious morality. You know what I mean. I am not being racist just honest. There is also a market in pet Margays. Local people steal kittens to sell as pets. They probably kill mum to get at the kittens. The whole thing is callous and cold. And so human.

      I thought about opening a boarding cattery to which you could add a small shelter. One funding the other.

  2. Great shots. If I could have my dream job, it would be with the Smithsonian National Zoo system here in the states. They do such amazing, innovative work in conservation and propagation. Great article.

    I love the domestic cat out there with the big boys. Just read about a Margay kitten that was rescued from the wild. It’s mother was poached. They are going to try and get him into a breeding program here in the states. Nice to have someone work so hard to save one kitten. He is very, very hostile toward his handlers. Makes me sad he had to be taken up by humans at all. Stupid poaching is stealing away our precious wildlife!

    • Me too. I think I screwed up on finding the right career. I love being outside and love nature. I was a divorce lawyer (horrible job!) and now I am stuck behind an Apple Mac… 🙂

    • It surprises me that so much effort by some people goes into saving one Margay kitten while at the same time a similar effort goes into killing the mother. The world seems highly disjointed to me. I love the effort to save these cats. Margays are sweet looking cats and can be domesticated but they are wild and as you say they should be left alone to be wild.


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