“Pics, or it didn’t happen!” This is a challenge commonly heard during skeptical times. And scientists representing a global conservation collaboration called the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring Network (TEAM) have shared photographic evidence of thriving biodiversity in 15 tropical forests across three continents, according to Live Science. In some of the pics that were captured, however, seem almost as if the wildlife were taking “selfies.”
Captured by a network array of more than 1,000 camera traps, 2.5 million images of birds and ground-dwelling mammals – a mere handful of which are shown below – revealed highly diverse ecosystems in protected forest areas. By analyzing images across the network of cameras, scientists discovered that many of the observed animal populations were stable and even multiplying, a strong indicator that protected areas play a critical role in preserving threatened and endangered species.
Over the past few years, the white-lipped peccaries were out-competed by collard peccaries in this part of the Cocha Cashu Manu National Park in Peru. (Credit: TEAM Network and Duke University).
African forest elephant:
African forest elephant from TEAM’s site in Nouabale Ndoki National Park, Republic of Congo. This species is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). (Credit: TEAM Network and Wildlife Conservation Society)
Jaguar with prey:
A jaguar – the largest cat of the Americas – with it’s prey, in Caxiuana National Forest, Brazil. (Credit: TEAM Network and Conservation International).
A giant anteater, the larges species of living anteaters, in Yasuni National Park, Ecuador. (Credit: TEAM Network and Missouri Botanical Garden).
African bush elephants:
African bush elephants in Nouabale Ndoki National Park, Republic of Congo. This species is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN. (Credit: TEAM Network and Wildlife Conservation Society).
A leopard in Nouabale Ndoki National Park, Republic of Congo. This widespread, adaptable species survives in parts of sub-Saharan Africa where other big cats have vanished. (Credit: TEAM Network and Wildlife Conservation Society).
Nocturnal Curassow in Yasuni National Park, Ecuador. (Credit: TEAM Network and Missouri Botanical Garden).
Two rarely-seen bush dogs are captured for the first time in Yanachaga-Chemillen National Park, Peru. (Credit: TEAM Network and Missouri Botanical Garden).
A male drill close-up in Cameroon, with a female and juvenile in the background. Drills are native to Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and Nigeria, though the IUCN currently describes their distribution as “uncertain.” (Credit: TEAM Network and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute).
Camera trap, Tanzania:
TEAM’s Terrestrial Vertebrate Protocol utilizes the world’s largest system of camera trap arrays to monitor bird and mammal diversity. (Credit: Benjamin Drummond).
Read the full story behind these wildlife “selfies.”
All images are part of the first “Global Camera Trap Mammal” study by the Organization for Tropical Studies as part of the TEAM Network Partnership.