Award winning photographer David Slater was in the wild outdoors visiting a national park in North Sulawesi, Indonesia and hoping to get some good shots. But little did he know that a misplaced camera would lead to one of the best self portraits ever – that of a rare Black Macaque.
Slater was in the park when he left one of his cameras unattended for a while. The shiny new object captured the attention of an inquisitive female black macaque. The species is known for its intelligence and dexterity.
Soon the female managed to start the camera and even began taking pictures! The results were a fascinating set of self- portraits where she even smiled in front of the lens. She also took pictures of the photographer with other macaques.
Slater recalls, “’One of them must have accidentally knocked the camera and set it off because the sound caused a bit of a frenzy.”
He believes the grimace must have been because it was probably the first time the animals saw their own reflection.
‘At first there was a lot of grimacing with their teeth showing because it was probably the first time they had ever seen a reflection.They were quite mischievous jumping all over my equipment, and it looked like they were already posing for the camera when one hit the button.The sound got his attention and he kept pressing it. At first it scared the rest of them away but they soon came back – it was amazing to watch.
He also says the mischievous primate managed to take at least a hundred images before the camera was taken.
‘He must have taken hundreds of pictures by the time I got my camera back, but not very many were in focus. He obviously hadn’t worked that out yet. I wish I could have stayed longer as he probably would have taken a full family album.’
The photographer also informed that the group of critically endangered monkeys were part of a study group of a science base in the region of scientists from Holland.
‘I teamed up with a local guide because I knew about the apes and wanted to photograph them,’ said Slater. “I walked with them for about three days in a row. They befriended us and showed absolutely no aggression – they were just interested in the things I was carrying. They aren’t known for being particularly clever like chimps, just inquisitive. Despite probably never having any contact with humans before they didn’t feel threatened by our presence, and that’s why I could walk with them during the day.’
Looks like this was one lucky day for the photographer or should we say photographers!