Will Burrard-Lucas/WWF-US

Last August, photographer Will Burrard-Lucas undertook an assignment for the World Wildlife Fund in the Zambezi Region of Namibia. Over the course of the next three months, his high definition camera traps snapped remarkable images of the region’s most elusive wildlife. Here are the very best photos of the lot.

Unlike traditional nature photography, camera traps have the benefit that they remove humans from the situation, allowing photographers and conservationists to observe animals in their natural setting. What’s more, they operate 24/7, lying in wait for an animal to pass by. For the project, Burrard-Lucas—inventor of the BeeleCam—used five DSLR cameras triggered by a motion sensor. This short video shows one of his camera traps being set-up.

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“One of the things that made this project so unique for me was that these animals were so shy that I did not actually see any of them with my own eyes,” Burrard-Lucas told Gizmodo. “I never knew what my camera traps had captured until I checked the memory cards. This was always very exciting—a bit like opening presents on Christmas day.”

A wildebeest. Credit: Will Burrard-Lucas/WWF-US.

Burrard-Lucas said he was “completely blown away” by what his cameras had captured.

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Working with Lise Hanssen of the Kwando Carnivore Project, Burrard-Lucas managed to capture thousands of photos over the course of the project. These images will help conservationists understand animal behavior and migration patterns, but they’ll also help to establish additional protected zones for these animals.

Elephants at a watering hole. Credit: Will Burrard-Lucas/WWF-US.

“The abundance of animals was startling, particularly as I had hardly seen any of them and that they were outside national parks, in and around areas where people live,” he said. “I hope these images can be used to show people how much wildlife is living in these unprotected areas and hopefully inspire people to protect it, before it is too late.”

Credit: Will Burrard-Lucas/WWF-US.

Under the guidance of Hanssen, Burrard-Lucas was able to place the camera traps in strategic locations, such as around water holes. Carnivores photographed included leopards (above), hyenas, African wild dogs, and even a serval cat.

“Of course, my traps also photographed many other creatures,” noted Burrard-Lucas at his website. “One trap in particular, positioned near a waterhole in the Mashi Conservancy, captured an incredible number of animals including elephants, giraffes, eland, wildebeest, warthogs and bushpigs. It also took thousands of photos of guineafowls. In fact, I estimate that I had ten images of guineafowls for every other animal photographed. Sorting through them all took a quite a while!”

A pair of warthogs. Credit: Will Burrard-Lucas/WWF-US.
A hyena at night. Credit: Will Burrard-Lucas/WWF-US.
Many animals were active at night. Here, giraffes and antelope visit a watering hole. Credit: Will Burrard-Lucas/WWF-US.
A rare serval cat. Credit: Will Burrard-Lucas/WWF-US.
Credit: Will Burrard-Lucas/WWF-US.
A porcupine. Credit: Will Burrard-Lucas/WWF-US.
Credit: Will Burrard-Lucas/WWF-US.
Credit: Will Burrard-Lucas/WWF-US.

You can read more about this project at the World Wildlife Fund.

All images used with permission.

Email the author at george@gizmodo.com and follow him @dvorsky.