The BBC Wildlife Magazine Camera-trap Photo of the Year Awards 2012 prove that—in the field of conservation—the most fascinating photo opportunities often happen when no one is around to capture them.
The top images from the automated machines include pictures of a horned guan in Guatamala, a sloth bear in India and a family of tigers in Russia.
The top award for the animal portraits category went to Zhou Zhefend, who worked on a project funded by the Shanxi Wocheng Institute of Ecology and Environment and whose camera captured a beautiful image of an endangered leopard in China.
The two other category winners were Sandesh Kadur and Robert Wallace. Kadur captured a photo of a tiger feeding on a rhino carcass during an ATREE biodiversity survey in Kaziranga National Park in India, while Wallace captured a rare oncilla on camera while working with the Greater Madidi-Tambopata Landscape Conservation Program in Bolivia.
The BBC’s camera-trap competition was created in 2010 to recognize the most significant or visually interesting camera-trap images of the year from conservationists around the globe. The goal is to help the greater community share in the discoveries and triumphs of field researchers and the organizations they represent.
Camera traps are an important new tool for field researchers, who use the technology to keep watch on key areas of habitat and help document wildlife movement, populations and distribution.
To see all of the winning photos, visit the BBC Wildlife website.