Ocelot on the Highway

Charlie Hamilton James's Image

The fallen tree, bridging a small river, shouted ‘wildlife highway’ to Charlie. He spent weeks perfecting the set-up of his camera trap so that it would reveal elusive species in daylight as they emerged from the forest and crossed the bridge. Over several months, he captured images of many animals, including this handsome ocelot, the early morning light brightening its face.

Osa is one of the few places in Central America that can still boast five species of wild cat – among them the ocelot, puma and jaguar. Yet these animals are under pressure from habitat fragmentation and loss of prey. A special network of camera traps is monitoring the cats’ habits and behaviour in order to better understand their conservation needs.

Behind the lens

Charlie Hamilton James


Charlie Hamilton James is a wildlife and conservation photographer for National Geographic Magazine. He specialises in stories and issues in South America and East Africa. He has shot 14 stories for National Geographic.

Image details

  • Nikon D7100
  • 10–24mm f3.5–4.5 lens at 20mm
  • 1/80 sec at f9  •   ISO 1000  •   SB700 strobes  •   camera-trap system
  • Osa Peninsula, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
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