Thousands of wire snares, removed from areas of Kenya's Mara Triangle, stacked at a ranger station. Individuals from adjacent communities set the snares with the aim of trapping wildebeests and other animals for consumption as bushmeat. Occasionally, rhinos and other endangered species become tangled in them. I struggle at times with the definitions of "poacher." Sure, bushmeat hunting is problematic, but to me it is a different category than commercial ivory poaching. Unfortunately, the two are often conflated. #kenya#masaimara#maasaimara#conservation#wildlife#africa#animals#nature
Kenyan rangers from the Mara Conservency set out on a foot patrol just before dawn. Each night, ranger units set up ambush points where the aim to disrupt & arrest potential poachers. Kenyan and Tanzanian rangers often work collaboratively and across borders in order to address shared concerns in the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem. This picture appears as it does because of the use of infrared technology. #conservation#kenya#maasaimara#masaimara#poaching#antipoaching#Africa#wildlife
A vet from the Mara Conservency readies a stimulant injection to wake a female rhino after he attached a tracking device to her ear in Kenya's Maasai Mara National Park.This rhino has been ranging farther afield in recent months, making her more vulnerable to poachers. Conservationists wanted to implant the device in order to gain a better and more consistent sense of her whereabouts. Rangers from the Mara Conservency work day and night to deter poaching threats to wildlife in the park. #wildlife#conservation#rhino#MaasaiMara#Kenya#nature #
An elephant grazes on the savanna in Kenya's Maasai Mara National Park. The Mara is a vast and complex eco system along the Tanzanian border that faces an array of natural and manmade threats. During the coming days I'll join anti-poaching ranger teams tasked with combating the threat of poaching and illegal hunting, most of which happens in the darkest hours of the night. I'll be posting here and @natgeo. Follow along! #Kenya#conservation#wildlife#poaching#antipoaching#Africa#elephants#maasaimaranationalpark
A quick video dispatch about my new @natgeo fellowship project. Been in Australia laying groundwork. I've run the full gambit of emotions on this trip, from near-paralyzingly anxiety to total elation. You know, how all projects start . #Australia#photography
Yup. Australia .
"Of course, now I am too old to be much of a fisherman, and now of course I usually fish the big waters alone, although some friends think I shouldn’t. Like many fly fishermen in western Montana where the summer days are almost Arctic in length, I often do not start fishing until the cool of the evening. Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise.
Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters." -Norman McClean. #Norway#driva#river#fishing#flyfishing#scandinavia#adventure#outdoors#nature
As I wander the valleys of southern Norway, I consider the residual influence of Scandinavian culture in my own life. Seeking upward mobility, my paternal grandfather emigrated from Sweden in the 1920’s. As a matter of priority, he joined with other relatives to purchase a small cabin in the foothills of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. The cabin became a refuge for the family over several generations. As a boy, my father spent portions of his summer at the camp, where his father imparted a love for hiking and exploration of the outdoors. My father, in turn, shared that world with my sister and me. On my first visit to Scandinavia, I now realize how characteristic my grandfather’s relationship to the outdoors was. Norway is defined by cabin culture and a voracious engagement with nature. Unexpected discovery of connection. #Norway#Scandinavia#adventure#outdoors#mountains#hiking#nature#Sunndalsora#innerdalen
Smoke break, Trondheim. An interesting week working with Norwegian and refugee youth in this small, subdued city. We embarked on a verbal and photographic exploration regarding notions of home and belonging. I've long been interested in the anatomy of national identity and this has certainly been an inquiry on that question. Grateful to those with whom I shared the journey. #norway#trondheim@ngphotocamp@ngpcnorway#Scandinavia#Norwegian
I wander into churches because I have an abiding yet inexplicable draw to them. I am not religious and my views on the subject can, at times, be disapproving. But I often sense something powerful in places of worship; the energy that believers emit within them. Today, in the Nidaros Cathedral in the Norwegian city of Trondheim, I discovered a performance and conversation with @daniellanois, the legendary music producer who brought to fruition some of the most notable tunes by U2, Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris and many others. When asked which U2 song he was most proud of, he selected "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." "I think most of us never really find what we're looking for," he explained in a poignant tone. "The song was really born from that humble premise." He spoke at length about his musical philosophies, often borrowing the photographic term "depth of field" to explain musical layering and complexity. It was nice to get my kind of religion inside a church. #Trondheim#norway#senendipity
A moment of decompression on the shores of Lake Kivu, eastern Democratic Republic of #Congo.
My good friend, @giaxomo, submits to cheek-squeezing by his aunts in the southern Italian village of Bovino. Giacomo's mother, Dina, grew up here before emigrating to the United States. While he has visited Bovino most summers since his childhood, his presence remains novel and welcomed. Friends and relatives react with pleasant surprise when they recognize him, often approaching with an endearing warmth stoked by elapsed time. They bite their lips, kiss his cheeks and playfully slap his face. It is a pleasure to watch every single time. #family#Italy#Italia#Bovino#Puglia
The set sets over the agricultural fields of Bovino, Italy. The summer days are hot here and the fading sun offers some respite. The fields beyond this small, mountaintop village continue to sustain many of its inhabitants. While farmers and shepherds reside in Bovino, their work exists in the surrounding lands. I'm interested in communities that retain pace and rhythm with their respective environments. In Bovino, it feels as though most people understand the intricacies of connection between season and sustenance. #bovino#italy#italia#travel
Bovino residents take an evening stroll through the villa, a park in the center of this mountaintop, southern Italian village. Each evening, when the summer heat breaks, residents flock to the streets to relax and socialize. Given Bovino's position at the crest of a mountain, the constructed villa forms the town's only significant piece of flat ground. The rest of its streets are steep and made of ancient cobblestones. As sunsets over the villa, children chase and shout at one another in unruly games of football and tag. Teens look for opportunities to flirt and impress members of the opposite sex. Elegantly dressed lovers walk arm in arm as older residents talk of life in the town. As a person that moves often and consequently develops few roots, I am deeply moved by the profound sense of community that exists in here. People know and care for one another and, in many cases, share a family history that dates back hundreds of years. #Italy#Italia#Bovino#Puglia#travel#village#town
Carlo, a retired barber, looks out over the agricultural fields of #Bovino, Italy. To occupy his time, he makes wine, cheese and other traditional foods and runs a small space devoted to the preservation of history and culture in this tiny mountain village. Expecting no payment, he took us on a guided tour of Bovino's historic districts, telling stories going back to the pre-Roman period--tales of bandits, agricultural development, counterfeit money, and illicit romances. I wonder who in my generation is taking it upon themselves to learn these tales. Bovino is beautiful. #Italy#history#puglia
One of my oldest and dearest friends, @giaxomo, looks out over the #Adriatic. Few have taught me more about love, outlook and the human condition. After many years of hearing tales about his family's home, I'm grateful to finally be here with him.
A young boy dashes through tall grass on his way to fish in the Cubango River in Angola. The Cubango, which is a critical tributary to the pristine Okavango Delta, starts as a meandering stream in central Angola. There, rural communities rely on it for a variety of daily needs including water and food. Angola's civil war--which lasted from 1975 until 2002--and the mass displacement it caused, decimated the country's once bountiful agricultural sector. Today, the country relies largely on expensive agricultural imports from neighboring countries. Boys in rural communities fish as a means of supplementing their diet--which is largely derived from subsistence farming and imports--as well as way to make some additional money by selling fish to other members of the community. #intotheokavango#cubango2017#Angola#Cubango#River#Africa#expedition#science#biodiversity#conservation#fishing
Members of the @intotheokavango Wilderness Project look through samples of insects in an entomology institute outside the Angolan city of #Huambo. The collection is vast and exceptionally well organized. More remarkable, still, is that it remained perfectly intact throughout Angola's vicious civil war. The facility has only intermittent electricity and lacks the capacity to undertake much contemporary research. Expedition team members, many of whom are regional field biologists, marveled at the samples and lamented the fact that such a collection remains largely out of reach of the broader scientific community. "I did my masters research on a particular type of regional butterfly," said Goetz Neef, the expedition's chief researcher. "I knew that the species also lived in Angola but I had no access to such specimens. We didn't even know that such an amazing collection existed. My research would have been much richer had I had access to this place." As we prepared to leave, Dr. Paul Skelton, a South African fish biologist approached me. "Pete, you're not a biologist so perhaps you might not immediately appreciate how much time and effort went into building this collection," he said. "This took decades of the lives of many people." I've covered a lot of conflict but it is often these moments, when I see how war's residue continues to undermine potential, that I find most poignant. #intotheokavango#cubango2017#conservation#Africa#biodiversity#expedition#Angola
Photo and caption by @petekmuller. A hearty congratulations to @adjanycosta, Assistant Director of Nat Geo's @intotheokavango project, who was named a 2017 #EmergingExplorer at the National Geographic Explorer's Festival in Washington, DC. In this picture we see Adjany moving through the grass as she collects fish samples along the upper reaches of the #Cubango River in her home country of #Angola. Beyond being an extraordinary ichthyologist (fish biologist), Adjany is, in many ways, the beating heart of the Okavango Wilderness Project. Her intensely human, emotional connection to her work underlies her focus and devotion. Even when she was sick with malaria, Adjany found encouraging words for the rest of the team. Few are more deserving than she of this important honor. Follow the @intotheokavango team as they survey the headwaters of the Okavango Delta with the aim of protecting them for future generations. #Africa#conservation#biology#biodiversity#science#exploration#expedition
Once in a while, grunts get to feel like rock stars. Grateful for an incredible and deeply inspiring week at the National Geographic Explorers Festival. #natgeofest
Each day, as the @intotheokavango river team arrives at their campsite, data collection specialist Abhi Ravivarma sends up a drone to make aerial images of the surrounding area. As the team moves down the Cubango River in Angola, they collect water samples, note various flora and fauna and create exhaustive visual records of the river system. Throughout every paddle stroke, Abhi oversees a camera rig that collects 360 degree images from the boat level. The Okanvango Wilderness Project aims to create exhaustive surveys of the main tributaries that support the #Okavango Delta, a pristine and biodiversity-rich wilderness in northern #Botswana. In order to ensure the ecological health of the Delta, the project leaders aim to protect critical swaths of the tributaries. #intotheokavango#cubango2017#Angola#science#biodiversity#conservation#river#Cubango#Africa#expedition
Approaching a destroyed and abandoned #hydroelectric plant on the outskirts of the town of #Cuvango in #Angola. According to local authorities, the plant was sabotaged with dynamite by one of the fighting factions during Angola's brutal civil war. While the ostensible purpose for the sabotage was strategic, it seems like a cruel form of collective punishment for the entire community, much of which lives without regular access to electricity today. Local authorities express hope that they'll one day be able to repair the facility. The land-based science team of the @intotheokavango Cubango River expedition will camp here while they sample biodiversity in the area. #intotheokavango#cubango2017#angola#science#conservation#africa#biodiversity
"I feel much more at home here than I ever do in the city," says Chris Boyes (@christurtleboyes), the leader of the Cubango River expedition. "I tend to feel a bit lost in cities." Eager to understand the mentality that pushes people like Chris into this incredibly taxing work, I refine my questions. What about the lousy coffee? Do you long for a nice cup of coffee? He laughs. "Funny enough, the coffee is one of my favorite things about being out here," he says. "It's jet fuel. And sure, it's not the best, but I'm always drinking it around a fire, usually someplace beautiful and always with people I care about. Sometimes we talk about the day. Sometimes we don't. But we're always together when we drink the lousy coffee." It's true that the grueling nature of these expeditions creates a strong bond among the members. I've been increasingly interested in the evolutionary social dynamics of homo sapiens and our deep desire to be part of groups in which we feel essential. We've come so far from our experiential roots as a species, but there are some desires that simply don't fade. #intotheokavango#cubango2017#Angola#science#conservation#environment#biodiversity#Africa#adventure#river
Tedious progress down the Cubango River. Here we see @drsteveboyes and other members of the @intotheokavango expedition team struggling to navigate a heavily entangled portion of the river. The trees that have grown together and obstructed passage are not naturally-occurring, indigenous species, according to Dr. Boyes. They were planted here decades, if not centuries ago, by colonial farmers. Over the ensuing years, they collapsed into the river basin and created the tedious blockages that the expedition team must now fight through. "This river does not want us here," Steve tells me over a cup of evening coffee, his arms a patchwork of scratches from the thorny tangles. "The difficulty we're encountering on this part of the Cubango is a consequence of human activity and its impact on the river system." Steve and his team aim to protect the Okavango Delta, a pristine wilderness and haven of biodiversity in northern Botswana. In order to ensure the health of the Delta, the team carries out an exhaustive survey of each major tributary. It's a profound undertaking. #intotheokavango#cubango2017#Angola#conservation#science#biodiversity#environment#Africa#expedition#adventure#river
Members of the @intotheokavango expedition team swim at dusk in the Cubango River in Angola. The team works tirelessly throughout the day, mostly in extremely remote and difficult conditions. As they progress down the Cubango, recording the topography and assessing biodiversity, the river finally widens and starts flowing more easily. This particular stretch is among the most beautiful we've seen o far.The Okavango Wilderness Project aims to protect the pristine ecosystem of the Okavango Delta in northern Bostwana. The Cubgano River is a key tributary into the Delta and the team aims to better understand the ecosystem that surrounds it. #Angola#Cubango#intotheokavango#cubango2017#Africa#conservation#wilderness#wildlife#biodiversity#adventure#expedition