Photographer Project: Saving Serengeti, Story and photographs by Boyd Norton

NortonSerengeti-1331Serengeti—it’s one of the most famous names in the world, an icon of wild places.

The Serengeti ecosystem, almost 10,000 square miles in area, includes Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, and adjacent reserves such as Loliondo, Maswa, Ikorongo, Grumeti and Kenya’s Masai Mara. It is one of the few large, protected ecosystems left on earth. Each year, more than two million animals—wildebeest, zebras and other herbivores—migrate from the eastern plains through central Serengeti and northward to Masai Mara and back, in a search for water and fresh grasses. It is the largest land mammal migration on earth.

NortonSerengeti-1333I’ve been traveling to the Serengeti ecosystem annually for 30 years, leading photo tours, and working on book and magazine assignments. I always assumed that national park and World Heritage Site designations would protect this ecosystem. I was wrong.

In May 2010 I learned from Masai friends that the Tanzanian government planned a major commercial highway that would cut across the northern part of the park like a knife wound. Hundreds of trucks would speed daily from Lake Victoria in the west to the Indian Ocean coast. In addition to cutting off the migration route, the highway would become an avenue for poachers.

Zebras in Ngorongoro Crater, TanzaniaWithin days of my discovery, I contacted a handful of other frequent Serengeti travelers and we started a Facebook page, Stop the Serengeti Highway. Word spread, and today that page has more than 60,000 followers worldwide. In addition, ecotourism consultant Dave Blanton and I started a tax-deductible non-profit called Serengeti Watch to rally support to save Serengeti and to inform select news media around the globe about the threat. Click the link to join and/or make a donation.

In December 2010, Richard Engel of NBC News traveled to Serengeti. He uncovered the culprit funding the highway: China. Engel asserted that China was after coltan, an important mineral in cell phones, and certain rare-earth minerals.

NortonSerengeti-1339The situation has grown more complex because of oil in Uganda and South Sudan. Plans are now being discussed by the Tanzanian government for a “transportation corridor” that might include a railroad as well as a highway. Either would mark the end of the migration and the total unravelling of the Serengeti ecosystem.

Serengeti Watch has proposed an alternate southern route, one that bypasses Serengeti entirely. Parts of this road already exist and are being upgraded for major transport. The Tanzanian government has ignored funding offers for a southern route, and to date the Serengeti Highway remains a threat.

Dawn, wildebeest and acacia tree, Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya.Building local support is vital. Through donations, Serengeti Watch has made educational grants locally to raise awareness about the importance of preserving Serengeti. The overall aim is to fund projects in media and education that encourage young Tanzanians to become involved in conservation. Through photography, journalism, video and social media, Serengeti Watch will give local people the ability to communicate the importance of protecting their reserves and parks.

This may be the best way to protect Serengeti for the future.

Boyd Norton is the author/photographer of 16 books. His most recent, Serengeti: The Eternal Beginning, has received accolades from primatologist and researcher Jane Goodall and Richard Engel of NBC News, among others. For more than 45 years Boyd has used his photography and writing to save and protect wilderness and wildlife worldwide, testifying at numerous congressional hearings. He has served on the Board of Trustees for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. He is a Fellow of NANPA, a former NANPA board member, charter Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers, and founder and Fellow of the International League of Conservation Writers. His next photo safari to Serengeti will be in February, 2015. www.boydnorton.com; www.wildernessphotography.com. See a recent legal development: http://newsle.com/article/0/162431923/

Revealing and Reveling in the Beauty of Native North American Bees and Wasps – Story and Photographs © Clay Bolt

Metallic Green Bee (Augochloropsis metallica) visits a Black-eye

A Metallic Green Bee (Augochloropsis metallica) visits a Black-eyed Susan.

Since Niall Benvie and I first developed Meet Your Neighbours in 2009 I’ve seen my fair share of amazing, beautiful and sometimes bizarre creatures. From the beginning, I’ve worked almost exclusively in the land that surrounds my home near the Southern Appalachians in upstate South Carolina, USA. Rather naïvely, I suspected that after a short period of time I would begin to run out of subjects to photograph but nothing could be further from the truth. Seldom does a day go by that I don’t see a creature or plant that I’ve never seen before in the wild, anywhere! As Piotr Naskrecki points out in his fantastic book The Smaller Majority, “Over 99% of life on Earth is smaller than your finger.” It’s little wonder then that the careful observer will be awarded with a lifetime of discovery.

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PHOTOGRAPHER PROJECT: For Every Fallen Wolf by Weldon Lee

(Canis lupus) captive animal; Kalispell, Montana (c) Weldon Lee

(Canis lupus) captive animal; Kalispell, Montana (c) Weldon Lee

Story and photograph by Weldon Lee

Prejudice is not limited to religion and racial ethnicity. It also finds targets among our wild brothers and sisters, not the least being the gray wolf. Wolf eradication can be traced back to the Middle Ages in Europe. It’s not surprising that it lifted its ugly head again as Europeans began arriving in the New World.

According to PBS, “By the middle of the twentieth century, government-sponsored extermination had wiped out nearly all gray wolves in the Lower 48 states. Only a small population remained in northeastern Minnesota and Michigan.” This came about as a result of wealthy livestock owners wielding their influence over policymakers in Washington, D.C., and demanding a wider grazing range.

In spite of Congress providing protection for wolves under the Endangered Species Act in 1973, wolves are still being killed.

The endangered species protection for gray wolves was repealed in six states. What followed over the last two years was the killing of more than 2,600 wolves. Now the government wants to delist gray wolves in practically the entire Lower 48. Continue reading

Metamorphosis by Robin Moore

 

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Story and Photographs by Robin Moore

Metamorphosis spawned out of a conversation I had one day in early 2012 with conservationist Gabby Wild. We were discussing the difficulties of raising concern for the plight of the most threatened group of all vertebrates, the amphibians, and committed to concocting a publicity campaign. We wanted to do something different, something that would make people look twice, or see amphibians in a new light. A few months later, we were in a studio in Los Angeles decorating a body-painted Gabby with live frogs and newts.

In my time as an amphibian biologist and a photographer I have shot (with a camera) a lot of frogs, but this shoot was different. Rather than wading mosquito-riddled swamps or hacking through thick jungle to find and photograph elusive frogs in their natural habitat, I was bringing them into the controlled environment of a studio and shooting them against the canvas of the human body. In doing so, I had to learn a whole new way of shooting. Instead of finding or waiting for the right light, I had to craft my own, and instead of patiently waiting for the action to unfold in front of me, I had to conceptualize and create compositions around a theme. It was both testing and creatively invigorating.  Continue reading

An Editor’s Perspective: Photography by Kevin Schafer

 

Amazon River Dolphins (Inia geoffrensis) WILD, Mother and baby swimming through flooded forest, Rio Negro, Amazonia, Brazil

Amazon River Dolphins (Inia geoffrensis) WILD, Mother and baby swimming through flooded forest, Rio Negro, Amazonia, Brazil

Images by Kevin Schafer

Story and Gallery Edit By Miriam Stein

Let’s face it – Kevin Schafer has proved himself in the world of nature photography. His patience and dedication allows him to catch the moments in photography that we all dream of. Over the last few years, Kevin has circled the globe for his “Empty Ark” project, the goal of which is to photograph endangered species whose stories have never been told. I find it most important that Kevin is photographing these species, firstly because they are not the iconic polar bears, tigers, etc. Secondly, he is photographing them in their natural habitats and this is important because there may come a day when photographs are all we have left to remember these species.

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About Kevin Schafer:

Kevin Schafer is an award-winning natural history photographer, whose photographs appear in all of the major science and nature publications in the US, including National Geographic, Smithsonian, Natural History and National Wildlife. He also works regularly with conservation organizations such as the Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund, and is a founding Fellow of the Int’l League of Conservation Photographers.

PHOTOGRAPHER PROJECT: Climate Change

Text and photos by Gary Braasch

 

R/V Nathaniel Palmer, largest research icebreaker of the US National Science Foundation, cruises through small ice in pre-dawn light near the Palmer Station, Antarctic Peninsula, April 1999.

R/V Nathaniel Palmer, the largest research icebreaker of the US National Science Foundation, cruises through small ice in pre-dawn light near the Palmer Station, Antarctic Peninsula, April 1999. Braasch’s first trip to Antarctica yielded this image, which became the opening spread in Discover magazine.

It’s been sixteen years since I was sitting in a tent on the foggy Alaska tundra with fellow photographer Gerry Ellis and had the idea to photograph climate change science. It might have been just an idle idea borne of boredom.  But, using my connections from previous assignments documenting nature science and after a review of what scientists were learning about global warming but which was not being well photographed, I broached the idea with some editors.  Continue reading

WILD 10: Conference Report

 

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Story and Photographs by Avery Locklear

From Alaska to North Carolina, Mexico to South Africa, and everywhere in between, government leaders, indigenous peoples, scientists, oceanographers, writers, artists, and youth convened together in Salamanca, Spain for the 10th World Wilderness Congress (WILD10). The conference was held from the 4th – 10th of October and I was lucky enough to attend.

Launched by The Wild Foundation in 1977, the World Wilderness Congress is the world’s longest-running, international public conservation program and forum. Conservationists and environmentalists from around the world come together every four years to educate, train, network and share ideas on how to create a wilder world.

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Is a Mirrorless Camera in Your Future?

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Story and Photographs by Rob Sheppard

A few years ago, I was in Costa Rica hiking a trail in a Cloud Forest preserve. I quite enjoyed the location – lush vegetation, wonderful big trees with their buttress roots. I did not enjoy carrying my backpack of gear, which at the time was Canon 7D and 60D plus lenses (APS-C format, not even 35mm-full-frame). Plus, travel abroad with that big bag was getting to be challenging.

So when I got back to the states I started looking into mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras (Panasonic calls them DSLM cameras for digital single lens mirrorless, which is as good a name as any). I knew I could get a Sony NEX APS-C camera that had a similar size sensor to the Canon gear but the camera and lenses were a fraction the size, weight and cost. So I started down the mirrorless road.

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PHOTOGRAPHER PROJECTS: Orangutan Orphans

by Suzi Eszterhas

Bornean Orangutan, Pongo pygmaeus, Caretaker with infant at bath time, Orangutan Care Center, Borneo, Indonesia *Model release available

Bornean Orangutan, Pongo pygmaeus, Caretaker with infant at bath time, Orangutan Care Center, Borneo, Indonesia, (c) Suzi Eszterhas

For years I have specialized in documenting the family lives of endangered species. This work has taken me around the globe, spending long hours with wild animal families for weeks, months or even years at a time. In all of my projects I try to incorporate the conservation issues that surround my subject or the latest research presenting fascinating discoveries about that animal and its environment.

Some of my most recent work has taken me out of the wild and into animal orphanages. In the past, I have spent a lot of time with both Bornean and Sumatran orangutans, photographing them in protected areas where they have the ability to live wild and free. But the truth of the matter is that these protected areas on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra are too small to save the species. More and more forest is lost every single day to bulldozing for palm oil plantations. Orangutans cannot live in a palm oil plantation; they need the diversity of the rainforest to survive. What’s worse is that plantation workers routinely kill adult orangutans and sell the babies as pets on the black market. The lucky orphans are found and confiscated by government officials. There are thousands of baby orangutans in various orphanages on these islands. Continue reading

PHILIP HYDE GRANT: San Pedro Mezquital Project

Story and Photography by Jaime Rojo

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Applications for the 2014 Philip Hyde Grant are due on November 30th, 2013. This $2,500 grant, provided by Fine Print Imaging through its Art for Conservation program, the NANPA Environment Committee and individual donations, is awarded annually by the NANPA Foundation to an individual NANPA member who is actively pursuing completion of a peer-reviewed environmental project that is consistent with the missions of NANPA and the NANPA Foundation. Click here to apply

Project Update from Jaime Rojo: 2012 Recipient of the Philip Hyde Grant

The San Pedro Mezquital project is an ongoing communications effort to protect the last free-flowing river in the Western Sierra Madre, Mexico. The river is under threat by several development projects, including a dam in the middle basin and a huge tourist resource in the upper basin.

The Philip Hyde Grant that I obtained in May 2012 was used to continue the documentation of this huge river basin, but also to give public presentations in the upper and lower basin to involve the local communities in the actions to protect the river.

In May 2012, we inaugurated a large format exhibit of the San Pedro Mezquital that was hosted by the three main cities of the basin, following the course of the river on its way to the sea. I gave presentations on Durango and Tepic on the day of the exhibit launch, and had meetings with regional authorities involved in the management of the river basin:

– Durango, upper basin, May 2012

– Presidio, middle basin, Oct 2012

– Tepic, lower basin, Jan 2013

Also, in January 2013, I did a 2-week expedition with my colleague Octavio Aburto, co-financed by National Geographic Explorers Fund, to document some of the most remote parts of the upper basin (Chachacuaxtle canyon and the Tres Molinos basin), with some surprising results, and a field blog was published in National Geographic Newswatch.  The Philip Hyde Grant represented a great opportunity to continue the conservation photography work in the San Pedro Mezquital river and I will always be thankful for NANPA’s support.

Please take a moment to check out the San Pedro Mezquital website, and this multimedia piece that I produced for NANPA Foundation called San Pedro Mezquital.

 

Children at a project exhibit in Durango, Mexico

Children at a project exhibit in Durango, Mexico