crested-black-Macaque-David-slater-self-portraitGiven the chance, some animals are eager to take a selfie, like this playful lemur and a camera-stealing macaque (pictured right).

Another kind of animal self-portrait is created by a camera trap – hidden cameras that take pictures whenever animals get near them. “Snapshot Serengeti” has collected 5.7 million of those animal selfies.

A carnivore researcher named Alexandra Swanson led a team that placed 200 camera traps across 1,100 square miles of the Serengeti in Africa. Now they’ve set up up a website where you can help identify the animals in the pictures. Think of it as tagging your friends.

Like many Facebook photos, there were pictures of wild times…


Swanson sometimes had trouble keeping the cameras working. Elephants would rip them off trees and toss them into the brush.


Hyenas would chew on them…


…until there was nothing left.


Big cats, apparently sniffing a human scent on the cameras, would spray them to mark their territory.


“I’ve seen very intimate photos of cheetahs and servals,” Swanson told the New Yorker.

Her team has published the results of their photo-gathering research in the journal Scientific Data this week.

The millions of pictures her team captured using camera traps between 2010 and 2013 are now online, with some of the best posted to their Facebook page. The photos are stored at the University of Minnesota and you can help “tag” the animal selfies at Serengeti Snapshot’s Zooniverse page.

(READ more at the New Yorker) – Photos by Snapshot Serengeti


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