This was the last photo I took in 2016 and it has remained one of my favorites ever since. We were standing on a bridge in the remote Northern part of Kruger NP, watching elephants drinking and bathing in the Luvuvhu river below us. Suddenly, we heard loud cracking on our left and, as we turned, this beautiful bull broke out of the thick bush and emerged onto the road. For a brief moment he just stood there, as if he too was struck by the enchantment of the scene that he found himself in: with the warm evening light breaking through the canopy, the liana vines hanging from above seemed to frame the elephant into a masterfully crafted Renaissance painting. I took a breath, pressed the shutter, and the elephant disappeared back into the bush - as quickly and gracefully as he had emerged. Happy to have shared this moment with @daniichen @v_andonova and my Dad ❤️ during our time at @theoutpostlodge
In the Great East African Rift Valley the Earth and skies coalesce and form a sort of transient land, leaving the viewer as if suspended between 2 realms.
Today is World Ranger Day. Every day, these brave men and women pour their hearts and souls into protecting some of the last true wildernesses that remain on Earth. In doing so, they are risking their lives so that in the future we may live on a planet where elephants, lions, and other awe-inspiring creatures still roam wild. Take a moment today to reflect on the work of these fearless soldiers, fighting in the name of Mother Nature, and think about how you can support the amazing work of organizations like @conservation_lower_zambezi and Zambia’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife.
“Our ancestors led their people beyond their farthest horizons.” Less land for an ever growing Kenyan population means less land for the Maasai, their livestock, and wildlife. Until European settlers arrived, the Maasai roamed some of Africa’s most fertile lands. Sadly, the noble Maasai have not fared well in modern Africa. The warriors fought and struggled to defend their lands, but their spears were no match for armed British troops. Today, as pressures continue to grow, it’s becoming more important than ever to build holistic conservation programs that protect the sacred lands of Maasai communities and the fragile ecosystems that surround them. For hundreds of years, the Maasai have lived in balance with the wilderness, to which they feel a deep connection. One of the organizations working to maintain this delicate balance is the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust @mwct_kenya, through (among others) compensation programs that reimburse livestock killed by lions and other predators. The program is supported by Campi Ya Kanzi conservation fees and employs warriors as lion scouts. Solutions like these will assure that future generations may live in a world where Maasai, lions, and other wildlife can continue to thrive in their majestic, mysterious ways.
According to a traditional Zulu legend, the cheetah’s tear marks stem from a mother cheetah who lost all 3 of her cubs to a hunter. The hunter was so amazed at the mother’s hunting abilities, that he stole her cubs to raise them as his hunting animals. When the mother returned from the water hole and saw that her cubs had been taken, she cried for hours, days, until her endless tears left permanent marks down her cheeks, never to be erased.
No one who looks into the eyes of a baby gorilla can remain unchanged.
Who goes there?
Lions, cheetahs, leopards - Africa’s 3 Big Cats have been thoroughly documented by wildlife photographers. And rightfully so. However, we often forget about the caracal. While the other major cats rely on stalking, speed, and ambushing techniques to make a kill, caracals easily take the cake for being Africa’s most stunning acrobats: they are capable of jumping up to 3 meters (10 ft.) into the air and taking out multiple (!!) birds with one single strike. Here’s one in the zone, eyes locked on its prey, about to launch its next attack.
After 5 years of successfully maintaining a ban on elephant hunting, Botswana’s government has decided that trophy hunting of elephants will be legal again going forward. Botswana, long seen as a conservation success story, has the largest elephant population in Africa, about one-third of the continent’s total. This success story is now over - and the situation shows us just how complex these issues can be. The Committee found that “there is a negative impact of the hunting suspension on livelihoods, particularly for community-based organizations” that previously benefited from hunting them. Opponents claim that the current President is merely trying to dismantle former President Khama’s legacy of successfully protecting these beautiful giants. Khama has criticized the move as purely political, noting that President Masisi’s party is “losing votes rapidly and wants to increase its votes in the rural areas by allowing the hunting of elephants.” There is indeed little evidence that local community members ever benefited from the hunting quota and the associated fees. Whether or not the elephants have merely become collateral damage in the build-up to elections, it saddens me to realize that whether elephants live or die no longer has anything to do with elephants. We’ve built a world in which we can’t seem to keep anything alive, unless it provides economic value. To help reverse this decision, please consider signing the petition in my bio.
I’ve rarely seen a more striking transition from urban chaos to pristine mountain scenery as that in Arusha National Park.
No one knows. - Each year, the Great Plains of the Serengeti play host to one of the greatest animal migrations on Earth. Over 1.5 million wildebeest set out on a trip that will take them over 2,000 miles (3,200 km). This Great Migration has been taking place for over a million years. At the beginning of each year, the wildebeest gather on the fringes of the Serengeti, all giving birth in the same month. Then they wait. To this day, no one knows what exactly triggers the beginning of the migration. No discernible signals have been observed. All it takes is for one or two wildebeest to smell the air and decide that the time has come. And just like that, hundreds of thousands will follow…
I dare you to take a closer look. We share 98.4% of our DNA with this creature. Yet somehow here we are, planning missions to Mars while they are struggling for survival. I wonder what we may find in this difference of 1.6 percent. Are we 1.6% better? More advanced? More intelligent? And who’s keeping score? What if we’re the ones who got left behind some 10 million years ago when we diverged from our common ancestor? We’re splitting atoms, creating new forms of intelligence, and mining invisible money. But what did we give up along the way?
I caught this beautiful giraffe basking in the evening light on the great plains of Botswana. - With their distinctively long necks, it may come as a surprise that a giraffe’s neck is actually too short to reach the ground. This is why they have to awkwardly spread their front legs to reach down for a drink of water. - I loved watching this one as it stood perfectly still and seemed to do little more than to simply enjoy watching the sun go down, quietly celebrating another day of survival in the wild.
“We are not alone. 👽 With the front cover of their March 2019 issue, @natgeo pretty much paraphrases the mind-boggling results from the famous Drake equation. - Derived in 1961, the Drake equation is a probabilistic argument used to estimate the number of active, communicative extra-terrestrial civilizations in our Milky Way galaxy. Recently, building on Frank Drake’s work, 2 scientists have suggested that the odds that we are the only advanced species in the galaxy are 1 in 60 billion… (!) At this point, it’s mere hubris to believe that we’re the only ones out here. - This photo, taken in Zion National Park, takes a look at just a small portion of our galaxy. Every little white blip you see is a star, the areas that look more cloud-like are millions or billions of stars, each likely to have planets orbiting around them. Earth supports life in part because its terrain is solid and solar radiation levels are moderate. Our distance from the sun allows water to be in a liquid state. So far, we’ve already discovered 47 planets that fit that profile - and that’s just right here in our backyard... - I took this shot in the warm presence of the wonderful @v_andonova ❤️
Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter - African Proverb.
Meet Guhonda - the largest silverback mountain gorilla in the world. After we’d spent some time observing Guhonda eat and play peacefully with his family, he walked off, away from the group, and sat down quietly on the leaf-covered forest floor. It seemed that he wanted to be on his own. As I watched him through my viewfinder, I couldn’t help but notice a saddened, nervous air in the expression of this noble King. Guhonda’s eyes stared off into space and I realized that the must know, that he must feel what’s happening to his species, how his family and friends continue to be slaughtered for bushmeat in the midst of armed conflict, how their habitats are shrinking rapidly, and how the future of his entire species is hanging in the balance. Like so much in this world, what will become of these gentle giants is now largely up to us…
This is one my favourite photos from anywhere in Africa. It’s not a photo of an elephant, lion, or of a breathtaking landscape. It’s a photo of Moruti, who showed us the pristine beauty of the place he calls home: Botswana. Every morning we’d wake up and Moruti would already be out by the water, “talking to the birds” as he called it. I’d walk up to greet him as he continued to listen to what the birds had to say and the news they brought from the night. Then, keeping his gaze up at the trees, he’d smile and say: “Today will be a good day.”
Conservation is in our hands. The California-native Tule Elk almost went extinct in the mid-1800s, primarily due to uncontrolled market hunting and displacement by cattle. By some accounts, fewer than 30 remained in a single herd in the mid-1870s. A conservation-minded cattle rancher named Henry Miller had the foresight to preserve this last isolated group discovered on his ranch in 1874. Until this discovery, tule elk were actually thought to be extinct. Today, all of the estimated 5,700 tule elk present in 22 herds across California (as of 2016) were derived from this small remnant herd, thanks to his initial efforts. • This story, like many other stories today, shows that unfortunately it’s entirely up to us humans to preserve and protect the fragile ecosystems around us, and the beautiful animals that thrive in them. Like the Tule Elk in the 1800s, thousands of species today are on the brink of extinction. It’s the choices that we make today that will determine whether future generations will continue to marvel at wild encounters like these, or whether they’ll be myths of a distant past, to be found only in stories and textbooks...