“It’s one thing to know the planet is in crisis. It’s another to see what that looks like.”
I am proud to be a member of WeTransfer’s Union of Concerned Photographers along with Lucy Pike, Mandy Barker, Frans Lanting, Luca Locatelli, & Joel Redman. We are a group of photographers dedicated to using the power of imagery to underline the urgency of environmental concerns. Learn more and get involved at we.tl/UCP
You can read my story on WeTransfer’s Union of Concerned Photographers website here.
I am very excited to share an important and hopeful story in Northern Kenya. At the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, the local Samburu community is helping to save what is left of Kenya’s wildlife. What’s happening here at Reteti, without fanfare, is nothing less than the beginnings of a transformation in the way Samburus relate to wild animals they have long feared. This oasis where orphaned elephants grow up, learning to be wild so that one day they can rejoin their herds, is as much about the people as it is about elephants. Read more about Reteti in my National Geographic story and please consider donating to Reteti.
The giraffe population has plummeted more than 40 percent over the past 30 years. To make matters worse, scientists know relatively little about giraffe behavior. But a group of scientists and wildlife experts is working to untangle the mystery behind these animals’ rapid decline. In early June, I followed a group from the San Diego Zoo Global and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation working with communities within the Northern Rangelands Trust to collar and tag 11 giraffe in the Loisaba and Leparua Conservancies in Northern Kenya. Learn more about efforts to discover patterns in giraffe behavior from my World Giraffe Day National Geographic post.
I am excited to continue touring as one of the featured National Geographic photographers at the National Geographic Live series in Portland, Victoria B.C., Omaha, Ontario, Buffalo, San Jose, and Los Angeles. My talk, titled “Rhinos, Rickshaws & Revolutions,” is about my exploration of the world from temples to war zones and rhinos to pandas. Tickets and information are available online. In the mornings, I will speak to local schools, and later in the evenings t0 adult audiences. See you out there!
Ami’s panda images for National Geographic earned third prize for science and natural history picture story in Pictures of the Year International, second prize for stories in the Nature category in this year’s World Press Photo Contest, and are shortlisted for the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards.
The contests were covered by dozens of media including the BBC, The Atlantic, Yahoo News, Smithsonian Magazine, National Geographic Australia, The Express Tribune, the Daily Mail, and DigifotoPro, where she also gave interviews.
Incredible news for one of conservation’s greatest ambassadors. As of September 4th, the giant panda is no longer on the endangered species list. It’s a testament, in part, to the incredible team I had the honor of documenting. It’s no easy task raising captive born pandas and releasing them into the wild. Scientists and conservationists have had to crack the code for breeding pandas and create habitat and space for them to roam. There is still so much to do to protect the panda, but for now we can celebrate the people behind this incredible effort. It is heart-warming to see these magical bears, an icon both to China and to conservation, returning to the wild.
I was thrilled to give interviews about my National Geographic story, including CCTV, NPR’s Weekend Edition, UPROXX, Vice, Huffington Post, the How to Do Everything podcast, Mother Nature Network, Global Times, L’Illustre, Tech Insider, and Business Insider.
After my National Geographic cover story appeared in August, many were fascinated by the scented panda suits! I talked with a number of media personnel, such as The Creators Project (part of Vice), NPR’s How To Do Everything podcast, Business Insider, and My Modern Met, about what it takes to get candid shots of these elusive animals.
As a photographer, I often try to look as little like a photographer as I can and this costume was definitely an extraordinary example. The disguise prevents pandas from getting accustomed to their human caregivers and allows me to get close to my subjects. The suits are scented with panda urine and feces, which is not as gross as it sounds. It smells like bamboo and something similar to wet puppies. But I have to say, when you wake up every morning and put on an outfit somewhere between a mascot and a bank robber, you know you’re really living the story.
I am excited to share our panda story, now on newsstands in the August issue of National Geographic Magazine. Tremendous gratitude to the incredible team in China working to protect these magical bears and to my colleagues at National Geographic for giving me the opportunity to share this incredible story.
This journey turned out to be one of the most unimaginable explorations I’ve ever had. It is not that anyone hasn’t seen a panda; we all have. But after going to China multiple times, getting to know the people, getting to understand the pandas and learning to really think like a panda, it kind of blew my mind.
In a region where bad environmental news is common, the giant panda might prove to be the exception and is a testament to the perseverance and efforts of Chinese scientists and conservationists. By breeding and releasing pandas, augmenting existing populations and protecting habitat, they may be on their way to successfully saving their most famous ambassador and in the process put the wild back into an icon. Pandas’ irresistible power make them important ambassadors for ALL endangered species.
The images and the behind-the-scenes story of my work documenting pandas over three years were also covered by UPROXX, Vice, Huffington Post, Mother Nature Network, Tech Insider, and Business Insider.
I spoke recently to The Weekly Wrap, the audio home of National Geographic’s Your Shot blog, about my panda story, which will be published in National Geographic Magazine in August. I talked about the origins of this story in 2013, how I pitched it to National Geographic, what the shooting process was like, and what I found in China that surprised me.