In the 'first-ever' global camera-trap study of mammals, scientists have documented nearly 52,000 photos of 105 species from seven protected areas across the Americas, Africa and Asia.
The photographs have revealed an amazing variety of animals, including African elephants, gorillas, cougars, giant anteaters, jaguars and rare tapir, in their most "candid moments."
The cameras even captured tourists and poachers.
"What a great study," said Stanford University biologist Terry Root, who was not involved. "Mammals are very hard to census because they are afraid of humans, and they have better ways of hiding than we have of finding them."
Scientists have analyzed the photographic data and come to the conclusion that habitat loss and smaller reserves directly affect the diversity and survival of mammal population.
The results of the $500,000 study were published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.
The study was led by Dr. Jorge Ahumada, ecologist with the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network at Conservation International.
Scientists stuck 420 cameras in seven different wildlife preserves in Suriname, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Tanzania, Brazil, Uganda and Laos, with 60 camera traps in each site at a density of one camera per every two square kilometers for a period of one month.
They collected the photos from 2008 to 2010 and categorized animals based different criteria like species, body size and diet.
"The results of the study are important in that they confirm what we suspected: habitat destruction is slowly but surely killing our planet's mammal diversity," said Ahumada in a statement.
Some mammals, particularly insect-eating mammals like anteaters, armadillos and primates are more vulnerable to habitat loss than others.
Mammal groups like herbivores seem to be less sensitive, Ahumada added.
Click above to see the rare photos of the animals from Earth's most remote jungles.
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