The Smithsonian Institution has launched Smithsonian WILD, a new web site that lets you search through its collection of over 202,000 images culled from seven ongoing wildlife studies. Researchers in remote locations across the globe have set up "camera traps" – automated cameras triggered by motion sensors – and left them to record whatever wildlife passes by. The resulting images, be they of giant pandas in China, barking deer in Thailand, or roughed grouse on the Appalachian Trail, aren't nearly as pretty or clear as those we've grown accustomed to seeing in nature magazines and HD primetime specials. But their rawness is part of their appeal: Clicking through these galleries imparts a sense of real-time excitement, as if we too have been crouched in the jungle for hours, waiting to catch a glimpse of something wild.
Sheerly Avni is a San Francisco-based arts and culture writer. Her work has appeared in Salon, LA Weekly, Variety, Mother Jones, and many other publications. You can follow her on twitter at @sheerly.