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Special cameras help scientists look at wild animals

An Australian Koala looks at a camera as it sits atop a branch in its enclosure at Wild Life Sydney Zoo in Australia, April 3, 2014.
An Australian Koala looks at a camera as it sits atop a branch in its enclosure at Wild Life Sydney Zoo in Australia, April 3, 2014. Reuters/David Gray

For a long time, it was hard to answer some questions about wildlife. Where do wild animals live? How many are there? What do they eat?

These questions are now easier to answer. New digital cameras are helping scientists look at animals. The cameras can snap pictures without being seen. A person might scare the animal. The cameras know when an animal is nearby. When it moves, the camera takes a picture. This is called a "camera trap."

The cameras have changed how scientists are able to see animals.

Pictures From All Over

Roland Kays is a scientist. He has many pictures from camera traps. The pictures came from all over the world. Now the pictures are in a book. The book is about animals that have been photographed using camera traps.

George Shiras used camera traps more than 100 years ago. He took pictures of deer and other animals. But his cameras were very big and heavy. They could only take one picture at a time. Technology got better over the years. But there were still problems.

The new digital cameras are much better. They can take many pictures. The cameras even work when it is very hot or raining. Pictures from these cameras have helped scientists. They showed that wild animals are living in a dangerous place in Ukraine.   It is in Europe, by Russia. People are not allowed to live there. The air is poisoned. People who go there get sick. Scientists did not know animals were living there. The cameras showed them. The scientists could not see the animals with their own eyes.

A picture tells us a lot, Mr. Kays said.

Cameras Are Important For Scientists

Pictures can also help scientists study tigers. The scientists can see the tigers up close. They can count them. They can find out how much food the tigers need.

Cameras help scientists follow animals. Some animals are in danger. They might disappear. Pictures from the cameras are important. They tell scientists if the animals are doing Ok, Mr. Kays said.

Mr. Kays studied wild cats with other scientists. They found that wild cats are rare. There are not many pictures of them. Other animals eat the cats, Mr. Kays said.

Their cameras sometimes found animals in the middle of eating. Mr. Kays thinks that is "pretty cool."

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Anchor 3: People, Events & Ideas

What is one way today's camera traps are different from the ones George Shiras used?


Today's camera traps can take more pictures.


Today's camera traps are larger and heavier.


Today's camera traps take pictures of animals in the wild.


Today's camera traps can tell scientists if a country's air is unsafe.

Anchor 3: People, Events & Ideas

According to the section "Pictures From All Over," how were camera traps useful in Ukraine?


The cameras took one picture at a time.


The cameras proved the air is poisonous.


The cameras showed where animals get their food.


The cameras could go where people could not go.

Anchor 4: Word Meaning & Choice

Read the first sentence of the article.

For a long time, it was hard to answer some questions about wildlife.

Based on the rest of the article, what does the author mean by "wildlife"?


wild plants


wild animals


wild deer


wild places

Anchor 4: Word Meaning & Choice

Read the following sentence from the section "Cameras Are Important For Scientists."

They found that wild cats are rare.

In this sentence, what does "rare" mean?






not fully cooked


hard to find


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