No matter how hard conservationists try, some animals just don’t want to be found. Perhaps this isn’t surprising since rare species, by their nature, are very hard to find. But capturing even a few minutes of them on camera can help transform our understanding of the rarest and most endangered creatures on Earth.
The more footage scientists capture, the more they can improve their understanding of their needs and work to conserve the habitat they rely on. But for the public, a fleeting image is often enough to appreciate these animals just a little bit more. There’s something magical about knowing that no human has ever laid eyes on a rare seadragon or a rhino scientists go their entire careers never having seen in person. Thanks to camera traps and other technology, we can catch a glimpse of the lives of creatures from the deep forest to the deep sea.
Here are six images of some of the rarest animals caught on camera. Not all of these species are endangered; some are just so mysterious that we have no idea how many there are in the wild.