Wildlife photographer David Slater today played down newspaper reports that suggest a bunch of Indonesian monkeys grabbed his camera and began taking self-portraits.

And he revealed that the shots, featuring the endangered crested black macaque monkey, were taken three years ago.

Speaking to AP, David explained that his camera had been mounted on a tripod when the primates began playing around with a remote ‘cable release’ as he was trying to fend off other monkeys.

The photographer is keen to stress that the monkeys ‘didn’t run off with the camera or anything like that’.

Commenting on today’s media coverage of the pictures David said: ‘There has been a slight exaggeration.’ Though he added: ‘They haven’t been Photoshopped or anything like that… The monkeys were grabbing the camera. They accidentally took the shots.’

David, from Gloucestershire, explained that he had been using a Canon EOS 5D DSLR camera with a wideangle zoom lens.

The 5D was set on aperture priority mode (at an aperture of f/8).

David, 46, said the story emerged only recently when a news agency stumbled across images from a trip he had made to Sulawesi, an island in Indonesia.