An endangered Egyptian vulture at @ParcoNaturaViva in Bussolengo, Italy.
These birds can be found from southwestern europe and northern Africa to India. They are opportunistic, feeding mainly on carrion, but also preying on small mammals, birds, reptiles and eggs. Incredibly, the Egyptian vulture has been known to use stones as tools to crack open eggs, a very sophisticated method of dining.
The opportunity to photograph this animal was made possible by @greenteenteam, an organization promoting youth involvement in nature and wildlife conservation.
To see a video of this bird, check out @natgeo!
A baby critically endangered Bornean orangutan named Aurora, with her adoptive mother, Cheyenne, a Bornean/Sumatran cross at the @HoustonZoo. (Swipe for more)
The Bornean orangutan is the largest arboreal (tree dwelling) animal alive, with mature males reaching up to 220 pounds and growing to four and a half feet tall.
Orangutans depend on high-quality forests to live in. Unfortunately, many orangutan populations are located in unprotected areas where humans have begun to develop palm oil plantations and other agricultural farmland. Palm oil is the most widely consumed vegetable oil on Earth and is used in 50% of all packaged products (including shampoo, lipstick, and ice cream), so the demand to continue developing these plantations is high. Deliberate fires set to clear land, as well as killing upon sight by developers, are a significant threats to orangutans. Taking young orangutans from the wild and exporting them into the pet trade is also devastating the species.
Since females give birth every eight or nine years to just one infant at a time, even a 1% decrease in female orangutans per year could put this species on a permanent path to extinction.
To see portraits of a Sumatran orangutan, check out @natgeo.
A Bobcat named Keta at the @MillerParkZoo.
Keta was a former pet before her owners realized how unwise it is to keep a wild animal in one’s own home. Keta came to the Zoo to be cared for in 1999. She has become very close with her keepers and enjoys climbing and playing with anything that has a scent.
Bobcats are the most abundant wild cat in the United States. They are elusive and nocturnal, so it might be hard to believe that an estimated 2 to 3 million individuals live in the US alone. They’ve been reported to occur in every contiguous state in the US except Delaware. They also exist in Canada as well as Mexico. Bobcats are excellent hunters and have the ability to kill prey much larger than themselves, but mainly feed on small birds and mammals like mice and rabbits.
An eastern blue-tongued skink at the Lincoln Children's Zoo in Nebraska.
This lizard can be found in bushlands and suburban areas throughout eastern Australia. They give birth to live young who immediately consume the egg sac upon arrival. When disturbed, they often hiss loudly and display their tongues, which can range in color from dark to light blue.
To see a video of this skink, check out @natgeo!
A beech marten at Centro Fauna Selvatica "Il Pettirosso" near Modena, Italy.
This beech marten was found in Turin, Italy with a broken paw, however the treatment from a vet and convalescence resulted in imprinting, which meant he became too tame to release. This is when he arrived at Il Pettitrosso rehabilitation centre in Modena, which acts as a halfway house for creatures like this. They house another marten at the rehab center, also too tame to live in the wild, so the two live together.
Since 2000, the recovery centre “Il Pettitrosso” has rescued and rehabilitated more than 50,000 wild animals near Modena in Italy. This means up to 4,000 per year, of which 70% are placed back into their natural habitats. In addition to this, another 800 wild animals have been brought in for care by the Italian Police from accidents or after being found in distress. In recent years the economic crisis has forced other local rehab centres to close, therefore the number of animals being sent to Il Pettitrosso is increasing even more.
A very special thank you to @greenteenteam, an organization promoting youth involvement in nature and wildlife conservation.
Lord Howe Island stick insects at the @Melbourne_Zoo, a part of @zoosvictoria.
This insect once lived on an island called Lord Howe, and were famous there for growing as large as a human hand and serving as excellent fishing bait. They existed on the island until 1918, when rats from a broken down supply ship evacuated onto the island and realized how delicious these enormous bugs were. Two years later, the rats had devoured each and every known Lord Howe stick insect. They were presumed extinct.
Then, in the 1960’s, a rumor began to circulate that “recently dead” corpses of this bug had been spotted on the rocks of an incredibly tall, narrow, volcanic island located off the coast of Australia. Since these insects were nocturnal, the only way to see them would have been at night-- not the ideal time to climb an eighteen-hundred foot cliff in the middle of the ocean. But in 2001, an Australian scientist and local ranger took that risk. They scaled the rock wall and discovered a tiny bush poking out from the cracks. Underneath were twenty-four huge, shiny, black bodies-- all alive. These were the last living Lord Howe Island stick insects in existence.
Two of these bugs, named “Adam” and “Eve” were delivered to the Melbourne Zoo, part of Zoos VIctoria, where a breeding program was established. Today, more than 700 of these bugs currently reside at the zoo, and the program continues.
An endangered Hispaniolan solenodon at Parque Zoológico Nacional in the Dominican Republic.
This is one of the only venomous mammals on Earth. The second lower incisor tooth of this animal is grooved and can be used to deliver a venomous saliva. Hispaniolan solenodons have patches of skin full of apocrine glands on their thighs that are used to communicate with other individuals through scent. Like many species in the Dominican Republic, the most significant threat to this animal is the destruction of its habitat.
To see a video of this solenodon, check out @natgeo!
A nine-week-old clouded leopard cub at the @ColumbusZoo. Swipe to see all images.
Clouded leopards are widely considered the most impressive climbers of all cats. They can climb straight trees head first with the help of their sharp claws, hang by their hind paws bent around branches, and can even climb down tree trunks head first like a squirrel. In the wild, clouded leopards are very mysterious. They are solitary with the exception of cubs, who stay with their mother for about ten months until they’re ready to wander the world on their own. Sadly, clouded leopards are hunted for their pelts and are losing their forest home at an alarming rate. They are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN red list.
We’re happy to announce the release of our children’s photo/poetry book “Animal Ark” featuring images of over 100 species photographed by @joelsartore for the Photo Ark project and poetry by @kwamealexander. Through this book we learn how each of us, no matter how big or small, is important, miraculous, and vital to this planet. (Click the link in my bio for a signed copy!)
To see an image of three-month-old red panda twins who are featured alongside this leopard cub in our new children’s book, check out @natgeo!
A violet-spotted reef lobster from @GulfSpecimen Marine Lab in Florida.
These lobsters usually have brightly colored lavender, orange and violet bodies. Their long claws are used as defense when threatened. Reef lobsters are usually quite territorial and like having sufficient hiding places to stay in during the day, as they are nocturnal animals.
Gulf Specimen Marine Lab’s education center has been telling the true story of marine life to adults and children for years. Specializing in marine invertebrates, they believe that it’s the little things that drive Earth’s ecosystems, which in turn allow humans to survive.
In other words, when we save nature, we save ourselves.
A Mexican hairy dwarf porcupine named Simon at @philadelphiazoo.
This porcupine’s body grows to between 12 and 18 inches long and its tail can reach up to 14 inches. Its short yellow spikes are almost completely concealed by its long hair covering its entire body, with the exception of its head. This porcupine uses its long tail to grasp onto branches, as it spends most of its time in trees. Being a nocturnal animal, this species uses the same exact hiding spot every day and then reveals itself at night in order to forage for food like fruit, leaves and seeds.
A partial albino red-tailed hawk at @MNZoo.
Normally, this species’ feathers are not white like this one--usually they're brown with a reddish tail. Red-tailed hawks can be found scattered widely all the way from Alaska to Central America. They have very few natural predators, and generally hunt by scanning for prey from a perched location or during flight before swooping down to catch it with their talons. Red-tailed hawks are monogamous, mating with the same individual for many years. Generally, the only time they’ll take a new mate is if their original mate dies.
To see more images of this hawk, check out @natgeo!
A critically endangered Philippine crocodile at the @GladysPorterZoo.
This is one of the most threatened crocodilian species in the world. Due to persecution from humans, development of its natural environment, and entanglement in fishing nets, there has been a reported 85%-94% decline in the population of this species within the last three generations. Today, fewer than 200 Philippine crocodiles exist in the wild.
As of 2001, the Philippine Crocodile is nationally protected by law. In the Philippines, killing this animal will result in a minimum sentence of six years in prison and/or a fine of 100,000 pesos ($2,500 USD). Thanks to legal protections, the future of the Philippine crocodile looks brighter than it did 20 years ago, but there is still a long road of conservation and protection ahead in order to keep this species alive.
A short-beaked echidna at the @melbourne_zoo.
This little Australian mammal is covered in spines and has a unique, specialized tongue that is used to catch insects at a very high speed. Echidnas are solitary creatures, living in isolation except to mate. Unlike most mammals, a female echidna will lay a single egg directly into a pouch on her abdomen where it is incubated, hatches and the baby echidna, called a ‘puggle’, develops. During Australia’s winter (April until July) echidnas hibernate, their body temperature lowering to 3.7 degrees celsius (38.7 degrees fahrenheit).
A female white-spotted boxfish at Pure Aquariums in Lincoln, Nebraska.
These fish can be found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, near reefs as deep as 30 meters. They are sexually dimorphic, meaning males and females of this species are colored differently. The male in this case is more colorful. When startled or threatened, this fish can excrete toxins from their cells into the water, poisoning marine life in close range.
To see an video of a male boxfish, check out @natgeo!
An Andean cock-of-the-rock at the National Aviary breeding center in Palmar, Colombia.
This bird is native to the Andean cloud forests in South America and is widely regarded as the national bird of Peru. Male cocks-of-the-rock perform intricate group rituals in order to entice females to mate. They often break into pairs to perform confrontation displays during which they face each other while jumping, flapping their wings, and squawking. These displays are very rare for humans to see because these birds startle incredibly easily.
To see a video of this Andean cock-of-the-rock, check out @natgeo!
A male Attwater’s prairie chicken (APC) at the Caldwell Zoo in Tyler, TX. The males of this species go all out when it comes to attracting a mate; they inflate huge neck pouches with air, flashing color while stomping their feet and moaning loudly, or 'booming'. Females breed with the most vigorous males who have the best displays. (Swipe to see this Attwater's prairie chicken's bright orange air sac inflate)
This remarkable bird is endangered, with just two remaining wild populations (a total of only 130 jndividuals). A major cause of their decline has been invasive fire ants, which devour both hatching chicks and the insects they need as a primary food source. One key to survival is to kill fire ants in the areas where the birds still exist, like the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge, which has been treating for fire ants since 2009.
The fact that this bird species isn't extinct today is largely thanks to the captive breeding efforts being done at the Caldwell Zoo, the @houstonzoo, Abilene Zoo, @fossilrim Wildlife Center, and very soon at a large facility run by the Sutton Avian Research Center near Bartlesville, OK.
A Eurasian scops owl at Alpenzoo in Innsbruck, Austria. This little guy is very sweet, and likely sleepy. Owls’ eyes are fixed in one position so, unlike humans, they can only look a certain direction by moving their entire head. By bobbing their head, an owl is gauging his surroundings, triangulating the distance to objects, and building a composite picture of his environment.
To see a video of this owl really checking things out, visit, @natgeo!
Join me tomorrow night, March 14th, at Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College in Colombia South Carolina where I'll be discussing some behind the scenes stories about photographing animals for the Photo Ark, my experiences as a National Geographic photographer, and the importance of biodiversity. Click the link in my bio for tickets!
Pictured here is a two-headed yellow bellied slider and two Panamanian golden frogs (swipe to see both images). Each of these animals were photographed at @riverbankszoo in South Carolina, just a few miles away from where I'll be speaking tomorrow night. The Riverbanks Zoo was part of a captive breeding effort to bring the incredible Panamanian golden frog species back from the brink of extinction.
Great crested newts at Alpenzoo in Innsbruck, Austria. These are cold water specialists that thrive in the mountain streams of the Alps.
Special thanks to @greenteenteam, an organization dedicated to working with youth who are passionate about conservation of biodiversity.
A female Indochinese green peafowl at the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB), Siem Reap, Cambodia. Due to hunting, poaching, and reduction of habitat, this bird has been listed as endangered on the IUCN red list. Luckily, @ACCB_Cambodia serves as a temporary home, rehabilitation center, and breeding site for animals like this one whose environments are destroyed and lives threatened by humans.
A jungle cat at the @ConservatorsCenter in Burlington, North Carolina.
This large, slender feline is likely the most common cat species in south and southeast Asia, but it can also be found in the Middle East and China. Unlike most felines, this cat is diurnal (most active during the day). Despite it’s name, the jungle cat usually resides near swamps, wetlands and rivers. When threatened, they will vocalize with a small roar-like sound, which is uncommon for other small cats in the Felis family.
A southern three-banded armadillo at the @LincolnChildrensZoo in Nebraska. (Swipe to see him uncurl from a ball!)
This is one of only two species of armadillo with the ability to roll up into a complete ball as a defense mechanism. The southern three-banded armadillo is listed as near threatened on the IUCN red list, meaning although it doesn’t qualify for a threatened status right now, it is close to qualifying for, or is likely to qualify for one in the near future. One major factor in the decline of to the southern three-banded armadillo is hunting. Since they are not fossorial (adapted to living underground), this species is easier to hunt than other armadillos. Habitat loss as well as the high mortality rate during exportation into the pet trade are also significant threats to this species.
To see a video of this armadillo, check out @natgeo!
A pair of critically endangered blue-eyed black lemurs named Presley and Poots at the Duke Lemur Center. (swipe to see all images)
These lemurs are sexually dimorphic, meaning males and females are colored differently. The black lemur pictured is male, the orange one is female. In the wild, these lemurs typically live in groups of 7 to 10 individuals, the sex ratio often biased toward males. However, females are dominant in the species, which means they always have their choice of mating partners, and first access to food.
The @DukeLemurCenter has the world’s largest and most diverse collection of lemurs outside of Madagascar. In fact, the only breeding blue-eyed black lemurs in North America live there, making this facility very valuable to the preservation of this species in captivity and in the wild.
An endangered Rio Azuela glass frog photographed near Pilalo, Ecuador. This frog is about the size of a fingernail and lacks pigmentation in its skin, allowing its internal organs to be seen from the outside. This frog can be found in lower Amazonian and Andean mountain slopes in Ecuador and Peru.
A mother and son jaguar at @brevardzoo. Jaguars are solitary animals and live alone with the exceptions of mating and raising cubs, who usually stay with their mother for 1-2 years. Jaguars mostly hunt from the ground, stalking their prey quietly before attacking. However, they have also been known to climb trees and pounce from above. Unlike most big cats, jaguars are quite skilled swimmers. They even hunt for fish, turtles and caiman (small alligator-like animals) in rivers and streams.
Unfortunately, deforestation and hunting are becoming more and more significant threats to jaguars. As humans move into jaguars’ habitat, they often shoot the animals on sight to protect their livestock and children. Commercial hunting of jaguars has decreased drastically, but sadly there is still a market for their paws, teeth and other parts. Thankfully, legal actions have been taken and breeding programs in zoos and other facilities have been established to help this species survive.
To see another image of these two, check out @natgeo!
We're excited to announce the official release of the new book “The Photo Ark” today! Featuring more than 400 portraits of animals from across the globe, this book is not only a collection of incredibly diverse and captivating species, but a call to act now to protect each of them before they’re gone forever. By ordering directly from joelsartore.com you will be guaranteed a signed copy, as well as the assurance that all profits will go toward funding the Photo Ark.
Click the link in the bio to order yours!
A male king eider at the @sylvanheights_birdpark in North Carolina.
These large sea ducks can be found living throughout the Arctic in places like Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Russia. They forage mostly underwater, diving sometimes as deep as 150 feet below the chilly water in search of molluscs and other invertebrates to snack on.
Sylvan Heights Bird Park seeks to advance conservation of waterfowl and wetlands, to act as a local educational resource for avian biology and wetlands ecology, and to serve as an international center for avicultural training and research.
To see a video of this duck, check out @natgeo!
A stick insect at @parconaturaviva in Bussolengo, Italy. These insects are mostly active at night when they search for plants like ivy to feed on. During the day they remain completely still in order to stay camouflaged and blend with their surroundings. If disturbed or threatened, stick insects most commonly defend themselves by playing dead.
For more info on this facility, check out @greenteenteam, an organization promoting youth involvement in nature and wildlife conservation!
To see a video of this insect, check out @natgeo!
Happy World Wildlife Day!
In 1995 only about 30 Florida panthers were left in the wild. Then, in hopes of a healthier and more diverse population, scientists released eight breeding female panthers into southern Florida. Today, an estimated 100-180 adult panthers live in southern Florida. This is a huge leap for Florida panthers, but there is still a long road ahead.
Habitat loss due to development, collisions with motor vehicles, and a lack of human tolerance are the largest threats to this beautiful species. Thanks to the help of people like @carltonward, a conservationist working to preserve hundreds of thousands of acres of land across Florida, panthers and other animals are free to seek food and mates within a large section of the state.
There are many ways to contribute to the conservation of Florida panthers and other endangered species, but perhaps the most important is to actively stay informed and use your voice to advocate for wildlife.
To see more images of this Florida panther check out @natgeo!
This week I had the chance to speak with NPR Fresh Air’s Terry Gross about the Photo Ark and what it takes to build it. We discussed these images of a 24-day-old bengal slow loris, named ‘Captain Hook’ because he is missing a hand, taken at the Endangered Primate Rescue Center in Vietnam. This species, and more than 400 others, can be found in my new book “Photo Ark” available for pre-order now!
Check out the radio interview to learn more about this loris, the behind the scenes work it takes to photograph animals for the Ark, and my journey as a National Geographic photographer.
To see another image of this Bengal slow loris, check out @natgeo!
A juvenile and mother white bellied tree pangolin at the Pangolin Conservation in St. Augustine, FL.
This juvenile is only 70 days old and is the first of her species to be bred in captivity. Frustratingly, certain cultures, including that of traditional Chinese medicine, falsely believe the pangolin’s unique protective keratin scales (made of the same material as your fingernails) have curative properties. Because of this, it’s estimated that over one million pangolins have been hunted and killed in the last decade, meaning they are likely the most illegally-trafficked animal in the world. Now that the four species of Asian pangolins are becoming endangered, smugglers are turning their attention to the four found in Africa, including this species.
Thankfully, in September CITIES (Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species) unanimously voted for a complete trade ban of all eight pangolin species, giving this animal the highest level of protection possible from this organization.
For more images of this pangolin pair, check out @natgeo!
We're excited to announce that the Joel's new book "Photo Ark" is available for pre-order today! Featuring more than 400 portraits of animals from across the globe, this book is not only a collection of incredibly diverse and captivating species, but a call to act now to protect each of them before they’re gone forever. By ordering directly from joelsartore.com you will be guaranteed a signed copy, as well as the assurance that all profits will go toward funding the Photo Ark. Click the link in the bio to order yours!
A badger named Alice at Centro Fauna Selvatica "Il Pettirosso" near Modena, Italy.
Alice was a young cub when found alone in the woods, yet she was very tame. Biologists speculate she had been taken from the wild as a baby by someone who hand reared her, thinking they could keep her as a pet. However, as Alice grew, it likely became more difficult to look after her and so she was abandoned again, left alone in the woods.
Today Alice is fully grown, but she is so imprinted on humans it is impossible for her to be released into her natural habitat- she doesn't know how to find food for herself or how to interact with other badgers. For these reasons, Alice will now stay as a permanent resident at Il Pettitrosso, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Italy, where she has a good life and is surrounded by people who care for her deeply. They will look after all her needs for the rest of her life.
For more info about Il Pettitrosso check out @greenteenteam!
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