Thinking about end of year contributions? One powerful way to make a difference is to support the work of The Nature Conservancy in Africa. Last summer, I visited the 56,000 acres of Loisaba Wildlife Conservancy in northern Kenya and learned about the variety of ways TNC is working with local communities to protect elephants and their vital ecosystems.
Bloodhounds like Warrior and Machine, 200 plus pounds of slobbery goodness, are the unlikely best friends of elephants. More than 25,000 elephants are killed each year for their ivory, and the tracker dogs are an important part of anti-poaching security forces working to protect these gentle giants.
In addition to being an integral part of this landscape, elephants keep forests and grasslands healthy for other species, including humans. They are a cornerstone of the tourism industry, which provides jobs and income for thousands of Kenyans. See my photos and writing in National Geographic’s A Voice for Elephants.
I am excited to announce my first ever edition of a special book this week with some of my most favorite images! Hurry because there are only 150 copies of Co-Exist, curated by the amazing Sara Terry. All the profits will go to Conservation International to support the work they are doing in Northern Kenya. This is a small, micro-press book and there will only be 100 books for sale at $25 per book. An additional 50 books will be available for $50 and will include a signed 4×6 print of my panda work. Please add $5 shipping U.S., $10 shipping outside the U.S.
You can purchase the book via PayPal (be sure to include a note about which book you are purchasing and your address) or contact Sara directly to pay by check.
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.
I am excited to continue my tour as one of the featured National Geographic photographers at the National Geographic Live series in Kansas City May 10, 2016. 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 more than 2,000 local school children, and later in the evenings for adult audiences. I will continue to give this talk in several other locations for National Geographic Live in 2016 and 2017. The full list of locations can be found here. See you out there!
If you are passing through the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, check out my World Press Photo rhino image on a billboard there. The image features the conservation work of Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and the Northern Rangelands Trust. Please follow their work on social media and consider a visit to Kenya to see them in action. Your support goes directly toward preserving wildlife and the communities protecting them.
Congratulations to: photo of the year winner Warren Richardson, Daniel Berehulak, Christian Bobst, Nancy Borowick, Mary F. Calvert, Mario Cruz, Abd Doumany, Sameer Al-Doumy, Anuar Patjane Floriuk, Corentin Fohlen, Kevin Frayer, David Guttenfelder, Niclas Hammarstrom, Paul Hansen, Chen Jie, Rohan Kelly, Bulent Kilic, John J. Kim, Matjaz Krivic, Tim Laman, Zhang Lei, Sara Naomi Lewkowicz, Jonas Lindkvist, Mauricio Lima, Sebastian Liste, Dario Mitidieri, Greg Nelson, Kazuma Obara, Adriane Ohanesian, Daniel Ochoa de Olza, Vladimir Pesnya, Sergey Ponomarev, Warren Richardson, Zohreh Saberi, Roberto Schmidt, Brent Stirton, Sergio Tapiro, Tara Todras-Whitehill, Christian Walgram, Magnus Wennman, Christian Ziegler, Francesco Zizola, and Matic Zorman.