If a tree in the forest gets a visit from Europe's most iconic wildlife and no one is there to see it, well, we'll settle for camera-trap footage! On a mission to capture animals in “ways that the public don’t normally get to see,” photographers Bruno D'Amicis and Umberto Esposito aimed a motion-triggered camera trap at a beech tree in Italy's National Park of Abruzzo in June 2016 and left it there for a year.

In the words of D'Amicis, the camera trap is a concealed "eye that never closes" - and over the course of a year, that eye recorded the secret lives and intimate moment of wolves, boars, bears, deer, and a wealth of other species that wandered into the camera's path. 

For wildlife photographers, picking the best vantage point from which to capture the action is often crucial, and that was also true for D'Amicis and Esposito. The beech tree was specially selected as it marks an important ecological crossroads in the forest. It’s a popular territorial marker for a diverse group of wild visitors that use the arboreal "noticeboard" to leave olfactory messages for rivals or potential mates.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that not much happens to a tree over the course of a year, save for a few leaves being shed and the tree inching a touch closer to the clouds, but you’d be wrong. This Italian beech got peed on, snowed on, sniffed, scratched, and even rubbed up by a bear while the camera trap recorded all the action.

A highlight for D'Amicis was capturing footage of Marsican brown bears. This critically endangered subspecies of the brown bear is only found in a restricted range in and around the National Park of Abruzzo, so capturing them in the wild was a special treat for the photographers. The reserve is the oldest protected area in Italy's Apennine mountains and is an important sanctuary for species like the Abruzzo chamois, Italian wolf and, of course, the rare brown bears. 

“I am glad that many people can understand the importance of those unique forests and realize that even in a country like Italy, so densely populated, there is still an abundance of wildlife worth preserving,” says D'Amicis.


Top header image: guidosky/Flickr