Sometimes, monkeying around can be a good thing. While spending time following a group of endangered crested black macaques in an Indonesian national park on the island of Sulawesi, wildlife photographer David J. Slater of Gloucestershire, UK had his camera snatched by a very curious crested black macaque. The creature became enthralled with the reflection in the camera lens and seemed to enjoy the sound of the shutter, so he began shooting photos.


Slater shoots wildlife with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Canon EOS 40D, thus the DSLR lens was large enough for a clear reflection.

The macaque shot a couple hundred pictures by the time that Slater was able to recover the equipment. While many of the shots were out of focus, the majority of the pictures showed the monkeys showing off their teeth as it’s likely the first time they had seen their reflections. Slater said that the group of monkeys was initially frightened by the clicking sounds of the camera, but they all eventually returned to check out the gear.

Coming across a group of the crested black macaques was a rare occurrence, as they are an endangered species and are found only on two islands local to Indonesia. They spend about half their time on the ground and half in the trees, looking for food, socializing and sleeping. They mostly eat fruit, but also enjoy a diet of flowers, insects and eggs. To communicate, the macaque becomes vocal and also has the ability to move their tufts of hair to invoke emotion. The typical life span of the macaque is around 18 years.

Slater said that he followed the monkeys for three days with the help of a local guide without disturbing the group. Slater has worked with a variety of clients on a professional level including BBC Wildlife and many national newspapers.

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