BBC Wildlife Magazine’s camera-trap competition reveals hidden gems SEARCH NEWS

Fabulous pictures of rare and endangered species are revealed in this year’s BBC Wildlife Magazine Magazine Camera-Trap Photo of the Year competition, in association with WLT and Paramo.

An almost magical photograph of a young leopard in the forest reserves of Shanxi Province, China, is this year’s overall winner of the BBC Wildlife Magazine Camera-trap Photo of the Year 2012 competition, in association with the World Land Trust (WLT) and Páramo.

The top prize of £3,000 goes to Shanxi Wocheng Institute of Ecology and Environment for Zhou Zhefeng’s portrait of a young leopard in the Shuishui River Reserve.

WLT is one of the sponsors of the competition. John Burton, WLT chief executive explains: “Camera-traps are now a key part of nature conservation work. The evidence they produce provides essential data for monitoring rare and endangered species worldwide, and camera-traps are widely used by our overseas project partners. This year’s competition attracted more than 1,500 entries from around the world, and the quality and range of images was staggering.”

The winning picture in the New Discoveries category, sponsored by WLT and Paramo, is of a Bolivian Oncilla taken by Rob Wallace, Landscape Program Director of the Greater Madidi-Tambopata Landscape Conservation Program, funded by the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Oncilla cat in Bolivia

Captured on camera in Bolivia, the winner of the New Discoveries category of the 2012 Camera-trap competition

Oncillas, also known as Little Spotted Cats and Tiger Cats, occur across the Amazon and tropical Andes, at high altitudes. Nowhere are they common and photographs of these elusive creatures are rare, which makes this picture all the more exciting.

Madidi National Park, in a remote part of northwest Bolivia, is considered one of the most biologically diverse places on earth. The park is part of a larger protected region known as the Madidi-Tambopata Landscape, one of the largest such complexes in the world.

Much remains unknown about the park – particularly in the tropical montane or cloud forests between 1,000 and 3,000 meters (3,280 and 9,842 feet) – and Robert and his team plan to spend some of the £1,000 prize money to buy additional camera traps for further studies in the park. Remaining funds will support education programmes with local Bolivian schools to raise awareness of the amazing biodiversity in Madidi and Bolivia.

As well as sponsoring the BBC Wildlife Magazine Camera-Trap Photo of the Year competition, WLT also provides camera-traps to partner organisations that request them to help with wildlife monitoring. For example, camera-traps are being used to great effect in the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge.

The winning images are published in the December issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine, on sale now. The winners, runners-up and commended images, along with an editor’s choice gallery, feature on BBC Wildlife Magazine’s website.