How to Save the World’s Tallest Animal

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.

National Geographic Live 2018

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!

Recognition for Pandas Gone Wild

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 AtlanticYahoo News, Smithsonian Magazine, National Geographic Australia, The Express Tribune, the Daily Mail, and DigifotoPro, where she also gave interviews.

Fine Art Prints by National Geographic

BHUTAN:THE LAST SHANGRI LA 2: A Buddhist monk enters the formidable doors of Trongsa Dzong, the Ancestral home of BhutanÕs monarchy. The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has sat in isolation for thousands of years and only recently has been thrust into the glare of modern times after centuries of solitude. Bhutan is a tiny, remote, and impoverished country wedged precariously between two powerful neighbors, India and China. Violent storms coming off the Himalaya gave the country its name, meaning "Land of the Thunder Dragon." This conservative Buddhist kingdom high in the Himalaya had no paved roads until the 1960s, was off-limits to foreigners until 1974, and launched television only in 1999 .

I am honored to have my work represented as exclusive limited editions by National Geographic | Fine Art Galleries. The galleries are places of learning where conservation of natural resources, the importance of natural places and the wildlife that inhabit the world come to life with every photographic creation. Behind every one of the iconic images is an amazing story.

“I took this photo at the end of the day in a tiny village in the far east of Bhutan. My motto is: I’m the first there and last to leave. I am up before sunrise and I’m the last one to go to bed. My key to success is patience. Ninety-nine percent of the time I’m not taking pictures. I’m asking questions, listening, exploring, waiting and watching, and getting to know people so they will let me into their world. 
On that particular day, I was walking around this village with a gaggle of kids, who all spoke perfect English. Normally when I travel around the world, people are always asking for things like candy or money. Tourism leaves a mark, and it’s not always a good one. These kids just wanted to show me around, though. I was about to call it quits when I passed this temple and saw this young monk closing the door to the monastery.
Later that night, when night had fallen, I heard a tapping on the door of the room I was staying in. It was those same children bringing me a lovingly, hand-knitted textile, along with a photo of themselves and a sweet note saying, “We don’t want you to forget us.” I still have that note and the gift and will never forget them.”

Tracker Dogs Are an Elephant’s Best Friend

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.

 

New Book: Co-Exist

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.

Pandamania Part II

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 CCTVNPR’s Weekend EditionUPROXX, Vice, Huffington Post, the How to Do Everything podcastMother Nature Network, Global Times, L’IllustreTech Insider, and Business Insider.

Why Photos Should Be ‘So Much More Than Beautiful’

I was honored to speak to National Geographic’s Through the Lens blog about my work and the power of photography to connect people.  I wanted to convey the truth about places beyond the dramatic headlines and spend my life working to highlight our commonalities rather than our differences.

The power of photography is that you can look at an image and instantly feel something.  I’ve been on this mission to tell stories that connect and inspire people and at the core of that is empathy.  Empathy is more valuable than any piece of gear or beautifully crafted image.

A technically perfect image, beautiful in every way, is not a perfect image. To me an image has to have soul.  It has to work together with other images to tell a story that make me think.

How Do You Get Close to a Panda? Surprise Answer: Panda Suits

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.

Pandas Gone Wild

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.