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'Camera traps' in wild capture millionth image: an elusive jaguar

TEAM Network

This image of a jaguar from a site in Manu National Park, Peru, is the 1 millionth taken with a system of camera traps.

A system of cameras set up to monitor unseen wildlife in tropical rainforests has snapped its 1 millionth image, an elusive jaguar in Peru’s Manu National Park.

Motion triggers the cameras to take a picture, allowing researchers to find out whenever elephants, wild boars, macaques and other hard-to-track tropical wildlife come into view. As the animals move, multiple images are taken, which are turned into mini movies (in the form of the beloved animated GIF).

The system, called the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network, is managed by Conservation International, an environmental group. The images collected provide real-time information on how wildlife and their habitat is affected by changes in climate and land use over time.

The cameras have been deployed over the past 5 years in 16 protected areas in 14 countries throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America. 

Researchers set up the cameras during the dry season in a grid pattern. Each is left alone for 30 days. Over the course of a year, each study site — containing 60 cameras — collects between 10,000 and 30,000 images. 

"Looking at the sum of these data gives us a picture of how we affect these ecosystems and the ecosystem services critical to our survival, such as carbon sequestration, a stable climate, soils, and so much more," Jorge Ahumada, TEAM’s technical director, said in a news release

Note: Animated GIFs courtesy TEAM Network.

John Roach is a contributing writer to NBC News. To learn more about him, check out his website