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Zoo Captures Rare Antelope on Film Using 'Camera Trap'

Scientists from a Westcountry zoo using revolutionary "camera traps" have become the first in the world to capture a rare species of antelope on film.

The elusive "Aders' duiker" antelope is so shy and its population is so low that it has escaped every attempt by experts to record it in the wild.

But British researchers working in Kenya have now taken what are thought to be the first photographs of the critically endangered species.

All the pictures were taken by special camera traps which are set up on forest tracks and triggered by any heat or movement - allowing scientists to photograph nocturnal, shy or rare animals.

The images were recorded in the Arabuko-Sokoke forest by scientists from Paignton Zoo.

Dr. Amy Plowman, the zoo's head of science, said: "We believe these pictures are the first photos of wild Aders' duiker ever taken. I have seen a few others but only in captivity.

"It is a very exciting breakthrough. The more we learn about these animals the more we can do to conserve them."

Zoo conservation officer Natasha De Vere said: "We are very excited about these photos. Aders' duiker are very difficult to study as they are so elusive.

"But these photos show that we can use camera traps to find out more about their numbers, distribution and what habitat they prefer to live in."

Two volunteers from the zoo - Amrita Neelakantan and Catherine Jackson - spent three months in Kenya attempting to catch the antelope on camera.

The Aders' duiker, which has the Latin name Cephalophus adersi, is found in Kenya and Tanzania. The animals were recently upgraded from "endangered" to "critically endangered" by the IUCN World Conservation Union.

In Zanzibar, the population declined from 5,000 in 1983 to 2,000 in 1996, before falling to an estimated 640 in 1999.

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