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India’s Top Wild-Animal Selfies

Krithi Karanth is a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and in 2011 received the Society’s 10,000th grant for research and exploration. She is a conservation biologist working to save India’s increasingly fragile ecosystems and threatened animals. Her research utilizes many forms of data, including camera traps, to monitor and conserve a wide variety of Subcontinental creatures.

By Krithi K. Karanth and Arjun Srivathsa

For more than twenty years, camera traps have helped record the otherwise unseen populations of India’s wildlife. Now, with more than a million pictures in the record, we have uncovered spectacular “selfies” from the reserves.

This is just the latest fringe benefit to come from the scientific work with camera traps pioneered by my father, K. Ullas Karanth. The population data and individual animal identification that has resulted through the work of the Wildlife Conservation Society-India enables us to continue to protect these magnificent animals facing ever greater threats and challenges.

But it’s not all serious business for India’s wildlife. In a world besieged by humans constantly snapping selfies … other animals are not far behind.

Some Are Fancy

India is home to the largest population of wild tigers and tiger cubs are typically very secretive.
India is home to the largest population of wild tigers in the world, but even here, tiger cubs are typically very secretive. This camera trapping work has helped reveal that individual tigers can be identified and tracked by recognizing their unique striping. (Photo by Ullas Karanth/WCS)
Striped hyenas are usually found in dry scrub and ravines, and often prey on domestic livestock.
Less massive than their spotted African relatives, striped hyenas are usually found in dry scrub and ravines, and often prey on domestic livestock. (Photo by Ullas Karanth/WCS)

Others Are Flighty

Green bee-eaters feed on bees, wasps and ants and they remove stings of the prey by repeatedly beating them.
Green bee-eaters feed on bees, wasps, and ants and they remove the stingers of their prey by repeatedly beating them. (Photo by Ullas Karanth/WCS)
Hoopoes protect their eggs by secreting a fluid to make their eggs smell like rotting meat.
The fancifully head-dressed hoopoes protect their eggs by secreting a fluid to make the eggs smell like rotting meat. (Photo by Ullas Karanth/WCS)

Some Are Bold

Leopards are perhaps the most adaptable and versatile large cats in the world and have been found to live in sugarcane field in India.
Leopards are perhaps the most adaptable and versatile large cats in the world and have been found to live in sugarcane fields in India. (Photo by Ullas Karanth/WCS)
The Crested Porcupine is the largest rodent in India.
Even without its quills standing up, the crested porcupine is the largest rodent in India. (Photo by Ullas Karanth/WCS)

Others Are Bashful

Chital (or spotted deer) is the most abundant cervid species in India and a favorite tiger food.
Chital (or spotted deer) is the most abundant cervid species in India and a favorite food of tigers. (Photo by Ullas Karanth/WCS)
The four-horned antelope is the smallest bovid in India and the males are unique because they have two-pairs of horns.
The four-horned antelope is the smallest bovid in India. Only the males bear the namesake two pairs of horns. (Photo by Ullas Karanth/WCS)

Some Are Picture Perfect

Sloth bears feed largely on termites and seasonally on fruits, and mothers carry cubs on their backs for up to nine months.
Sloth bears feed largely on termites and seasonally on fruits, and mothers carry cubs on their backs for up to nine months.  Their fleshy nostrils and lips are used to blow away dirt and vacuum up their insect prey. (Photo by Ullas Karanth/WCS)
The Hanuman langur commonly lives amongst people and as species has recently been split into seven distinct species.
Hanuman langurs commonly live among people, and though once considered to be a single species, have recently been split into seven distinct species. (Photo by Ullas Karanth/WCS)

Others Are Edgy

Asian elephants are smaller than African elephants and their trunks are thought to be comprised of 60,000 muscles.
Asian elephants are smaller than African elephants, but just as curious and intelligent. Their powerful and dexterous trunks are thought to be comprised of 60,000 muscles. (Photo by Ullas Karanth/WCS)
Karanth_6-23-14_12.Sambar
During the rut, sore spots are seen on these sambar deer where the hair and skin sloughs off and exudes a fluid. (Photo by Ullas Karanth/WCS)

Some Are Curious

Is also called a 'barking' deer, for it's characteristic loud dog-like barking when alarmed
This wide-eyed visitor is a muntjak, also called a “barking deer” for the loud dog-like vocalizations it makes when alarmed. (Photo by Ullas Karanth/WCS)
Although they are called civet 'cats' for their cat-like appearance, palm civets are not really cats
Although they are called “civet cats” for their cat-like appearance, palm civets are veverrids, not felines, and more closely resemble more primitive carnivores. (Photo by Ullas Karanth/WCS)

Others Are Mischievous

These monkeys are often commensal with people and endemic to southern India.
These bonnet monkeys are often commensal and communal with people and are endemic to southern India. (Photo by Ullas Karanth/WCS)
Karanth_6-23-14_2.Human
And of course, even in the wildest parts of India, you’re never far from other curious humans! (Photo by Ullas Karanth/WCS)

All in all it’s a selfie-filled world!

Read More by Krithi Karanth

Comments

  1. Kshitij Degaonkar
    United States
    September 30, 10:53 pm

    Haha.. amazing collection!
    Animals are such adorable creatures :)

  2. Duane
    United States
    August 5, 12:08 pm

    Keep up the great work Krithi. I enjoyed your concluding photo. We humans have the power to shape our environment to suit our needs; but seem to lack the foresight that we are but renters from a future generation. We need reminders from people such as yourself that the earth is a beautiful yet fragile home to many.

  3. JERRY JALEEL
    Canada
    July 22, 2:50 pm

    Fantastic trap-camera shots. Reminds me of the pictures taken by F.W. Champion with a trip-wire camera in 1920s in Northern Indian jungles.

  4. Alex
    USA
    July 22, 8:59 am

    behtareen..macha

  5. Priya
    Atlanta
    July 20, 12:36 am

    Great photos but they are not “selfies”. The animals didn’t take them by themselves.

  6. Trish
    Redding California
    July 19, 10:58 pm

    Fantastic idea and wonderful photos. Love the captions so we know what we are looking at as well. National Geographic is not only a protector of nature but an educator to all. Thanks so much

  7. meri rodby
    bend, oregon
    July 18, 2:09 pm

    What a beautiful world!

  8. Shirley Whitehead
    South Africa
    July 18, 1:53 am

    Really Beautiful!!!! Well done.

  9. S.Mohan
    Singapore
    July 17, 11:34 pm

    Thanks Kirthi

    Awesome shots ! Real treat for animal lovers.

    I hope more of such places remains intact on earth.

  10. Saibaba
    Secunderabad, India.
    July 17, 10:10 pm

    Excellent selfies, so curious of camera.

  11. NGenthusiast
    United States
    July 17, 8:53 pm

    Thank you National Geographic for sharing these wonderful photographs and articles.
    I share them with my son!

  12. Mark Avery
    July 17, 8:51 pm

    Next time, can we also see a photograph of what the animals are looking at? If it’s just a camera, why does it inspire such curiosity? If it’s more than a camera, what is it?

  13. karen t
    las vegas NV, USA
    July 17, 8:09 pm

    AWESOME!!! Living vicariously thru the eyes of NG’s photos takes me all over the world into the natural habitat of creatures I would never otherwise see. Great work!

  14. Tim
    California
    July 17, 8:00 pm

    I agree great photos. I wish the trap was shown. Especially the human who was photographed. What drew her to look at the camera? What drew the animals? Was it food?

  15. P Noneman
    Ohio, United States
    July 17, 5:31 pm

    We have a sloth bear at our zoo but this picture shows them so much more realistically.

  16. jmuhj
    July 17, 4:14 pm

    Thanks to everyone involved for these amazing, funny, beautiful pix. May we all learn very quickly that we are all animals and that we mammals are hardwired to be compassionate and connected. That means we need to “get it” very fast that we are the stewards — the protectors — of the planet and that we live here with other living beings whose right to this planet is just as sacrosanct as ours.

  17. Hao Tang
    China
    July 17, 3:58 pm

    I am love the whole photos. The monkey is best favorite.

  18. Donggyu
    Seoul. Korea
    July 16, 1:38 am

    What nice photos! These are great photos about wild animals.
    Thanks for your job!
    잘 보았습니다. 사진이 참 재미있고 멋집니다.

  19. shridhar
    mangalore
    July 15, 10:32 am

    Wow..never knew hoopoes trick..such an evolutionary adaption..If I am right….:P

  20. Dipanjan Mitra
    India
    July 15, 12:05 am

    India’s Top Wild-Animal Selfies says the title of the article and the last image includes a human. Quite apt actually going by the current global situation. We, human beings are probably worse than those poor wild animals.

  21. Dipanjan Mitra
    India
    July 14, 11:49 am

    The best of the series is the last image with the caption. I have not seen a camera trap of a human being before, in the wild. great record shot.

  22. Paul
    Canada
    July 14, 11:24 am

    Great photos

  23. Bimla Kochhar.
    Chandigarh
    July 13, 9:28 am

    Wonderful idea to share these beautiful pictures taken by your father over a long time with captions giving details.it is really good.

  24. Juan
    buenos Aires, Argentina
    July 11, 3:25 pm

    Love the animals selfi´s. We have the duty to protect all de animal´s..!!

  25. Steven Holloway
    United States
    July 11, 6:55 am

    Very interesting ! I have also seen “selfie” videos on motion detection cameras that proved there were animals in certain parts of the USA that everyone thought was near extinction near populations.

  26. Jenny
    Chongqing, China
    July 11, 5:05 am

    I love the LOVELY leopard!

  27. Kiranurs
    Bangalore
    July 11, 3:46 am

    Amazing … Been on long wait. To. voulnteer. For camera trap. Activities… Till then pls keep sharing. Keep inspiring…. Thx

  28. Charles R.
    USA. Oklahoma
    July 10, 8:58 pm

    I love nature!!

  29. Grace Nugi
    Papua New Guinea
    July 10, 7:28 pm

    Awww!! All gorgeous! Well done! Just beautiful!

  30. Jay Kumar
    India
    July 10, 6:54 pm

    Krithi the black panther is missing from Wild-Animal Selfies. It would have been the best of the best. :)

  31. Rocky chaudhry
    USA
    July 10, 6:04 pm

    nature;s beauty .Lets save all wild animals

  32. Rick Lloyd
    Panama
    July 10, 6:01 pm

    Amazing #wildfies, but the last one is a K.O. LOL

  33. Angela
    Sacramento, California
    July 10, 2:51 pm

    Awesome

  34. Bexaida
    Puerto Rico
    July 10, 1:51 pm

    I love it!!! Awesome!

  35. martine
    Canada
    July 10, 1:13 pm

    LOL the sloth bear!

  36. Jorge Galrito
    Almada, Portugal
    July 10, 12:33 pm

    Loved all selfies, but the last one was so unexpected it made me laugh.

  37. aline
    London
    July 10, 3:30 am

    Great idea! More beautiful than human selfies. Spread it!

  38. Mushtak Pasha
    Shimoga India
    July 10, 3:29 am

    Every has curiosity – nice auto captures. I like most

  39. Gaea
    Bangalore
    July 10, 2:19 am

    Brought a smile to my face, this did.

  40. Darren Gimber
    UK
    July 10, 1:08 am

    Brilliant captures. A real insights.

  41. Darpan Maheshgauri
    India
    July 10, 12:37 am

    The last one was the best !!

  42. rooa
    jordan
    July 10, 12:29 am

    Omg that’s kinda funny.. Great animals:**

  43. donny
    Bangalore
    July 10, 12:27 am

    Best wildlife selfies

  44. Lou Anne
    washington, usa
    July 10, 12:23 am

    Awee theyre so cute!!

  45. Erin
    PA, USA
    July 10, 12:05 am

    Amazing! Loved them!

  46. Rob Hafner
    NYC
    July 9, 9:15 pm

    Great photos, especially the leopard. That’s just begging to be made into a comical meme. I visit the WCS’s Bronx Zoo with my camera, but there’s no comparison to animals living in their natural habitats. One day, maybe I’ll get to visit them there, too. Until then, thanks so much for sharing, and for the work you do.

  47. Jacqui
    United Kingdom
    July 9, 9:05 pm

    Brilliant..absolutely love it :-)

  48. nafiz
    Bangkok
    July 9, 8:22 pm

    This made my day.

  49. Atul
    Cali
    July 9, 8:20 pm

    Beautiful :)

  50. Adey
    Trinidad &Tobago
    July 9, 8:18 pm

    Wow, really cool pics. They are all great.

  51. Ashly A K
    Bangalore
    July 9, 6:54 am

    aaahh…LOVED IT !!!!

  52. Jeevesha
    Bangalore
    July 9, 6:32 am

    Beautiful selfies :)

  53. Arul Badusha
    waynad
    July 9, 2:18 am

    Fantastic clicks…

  54. Anupama
    Bangalore
    July 8, 10:05 am

    BEAUTIFUL!!! Innocence is a common feature across!!
    :-)