Humans aren’t the only creatures who’ve mastered the art of the “selfie,” as a recently released collection of candid African animal photos proves. The images, captured in Tanzania’s famed Serengeti National Park, were taken using motion-triggered cameras that automatically snap pictures when something crosses into view, meaning the animals were tripping the shutters themselves (there's really no other way to take a selfie in the wild without opposable thumbs.)
The project was called Snapshot Serengeti and began in 2010. Researchers posted the photos online and asked viewers to help name the animals in the images. Forty mammalian species were identified.
The purpose of the photo project was to document the daily lives of dozens of mammal species as they ate, slept, groomed and hunted on the savanna. Researchers said the images would help ecologists piece together a detailed portrait of life on the Serengeti and allow them to study how animals interact with the environment around them.
Scientists involved with the project said it was the largest camera tracking survey ever conducted. “We wanted to study how predators and their prey coexisted across a dynamic landscape,” said Alexandra Swanson, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oxford in the U.K. and lead researcher on the project, in a statement Tuesday. “We needed to answer different questions than camera traps had answered previously.”
Researchers used 225 cameras spread across more than 380 square miles of grasslands and woodlands. The cameras were set up to take a picture any time an object whose temperature was warmer than the surrounding area moved into view. Most of the cameras were located near or in trees and worked 24-7 for several years.
The cameras took millions of photos of wild animals. Some of the beasts were more curious, approaching the cameras and staring directly into the lens, as if to say, “What are you looking at?” Others didn’t seem the slightest bit aware of the cameras’ presence.
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