Dec 5

Here at ARKive, we are in a truly unique position in that we get to work with the world’s very best wildlife and environmental filmmakers and photographers. At this year’s Wildphotos we had the chance to catch up with a few of our most famous and respected ARKive media donors to learn what inspires them to do what they do and discover the stories behind their awe-inspiring images.

Wildlife photographs can take months of planning and extraordinary amounts of patience in order to capture the perfect instant on film. Often working in hostile environments with unpredictable subjects, being a wildlife photographer is no easy life.

Discover what (or who) inspired some of the world’s best wildlife photographers to pick up a camera and start taking photographs of the natural world.

Tui De Roy

Galapagos hawk (Buteo galapagoensis) photo

Galapagos hawk (Buteo galapagoensis)

“Growing up in the Galapagos Islands I was surrounded by fascinating wild animals on a daily basis, many of whom were literally my closest friends. My father was also a keen naturalist and very interested in photography, so by the time I was 12-13 I was borrowing his camera regularly to record animal behaviour that I observed. I sold cured goat skins to save up for an SLR, and when I was 18 had my first article (text and photos) published in Pacific Discovery, the magazine of the California Academy of Sciences, and a cover feature in Audubon magazine the following year.  After that, there was no looking back for me.  Photography became my way of seeing and my way of living, and remains every bit as gratifying today as it was when I saw my first black-and-white images emerge from the processing bath nearly half a century ago. My spiritual home will always be in the wildest of wild places, and my mission to give a voice through imagery to the plight of the world’s multitude of threatened species.”

See all of Tui de Roys images on ARKive.

Patricio Robles Gil

Moose (Alces americanus)

Moose (Alces americanus)

“I’m addicted to wild animal encounters, those precious moments are what keeps me alive in this planet. There is something deep inside that push me to share those experiences, for that purpose the camera helps a great deal.

The camera is a tool that helps me bring home glimpses of wild encounters sow I can share and touch audiences to care for those pristine worlds.”

See over 150 photographs taken by Patricio Robles Gil on ARKive.

Next time: learn who or what inspired photographers Mark Hamblin, Charlie Hamilton James and Laurie Campbell to pick up the camera.

Nov 30

Happy St. Andrews Day! It’s Scotland’s national day, and as we celebrate with shortbread, oatcakes, and clootie dumplings, we thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to appreciate some of the greatest wilderness areas in the United Kingdom. From the Shetland Islands to the Scottish Borders, Scotland is home to some incredible species, many of which are found nowhere else in the UK.

Pine marten (Martes martes)

Pine marten (Martes martes)

One of Scotland’s most elusive species, the pine marten was once persecuted to the edge of extinction in the UK. Although it remains one of our rarest mammals, the pine marten is becoming more widespread in Scotland, and sightings are being investigated in Wales.

Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus)

Male capercaillie displaying photo

These unexpectedly large birds are famed for the male’s spectacular spring display, during which they produce a series of odd calls, including sounds like the popping of corks. Wide-scale forest clearance and hunting caused the capercaillie to become extinct in Britain in the 18th century. Birds from Sweden were reintroduced in the 19th century, and this bird now survives in the Cairngorm region of Scotland.

Mountain hare (Lepus timidus)

Mountain hare in winter coat eating berries

The mountain hare is another mammal native to the Scottish Highlands, and the only species in the Leporidae family (hares and rabbits) native to the UK. Populations have been released elsewhere in the UK, mainly for shooting, and mountain hares can now be found in the Scottish Borders, south-west Scotland, the Peak District and the Isle of Man.

Ptarmigan (Lagopus muta)

Ptarmigan female camouflaged on rock

The ptarmigan is possibly Britain’s hardiest bird, living high on Scottish mountainsides in rocky terrain with very little vegetation. The ptarmigan is the only bird in Britain to turn white during winter, enabling this bird to blend in perfectly with a snowy winter’s landscape.

Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar)

Female Atlantic salmon leaping up waterfall

The Atlantic salmon run is a spectacular sight in Scotland. As the fish head upstream against the current to spawn, they display spectacular feats of strength to leap up waterfalls and many other obstacles. Sadly for this charismatic species, Atlantic salmon numbers are only reasonably healthy in four countries: Norway, Ireland, Iceland and Scotland.

Heather (Calluna vulgaris)

Flowering heather on heathland

With heather dominating Scottish heaths, bogs and moorland, it’s no wonder this resilient shrub is an iconic symbol of Scotland. Heather has been used as fodder, fuel, thatch, bedding for livestock and humans, a packing material, and to make ropes, brooms and even beer.

Unfortunately, a lack of reliable pictures and footage means that the most renowned Scottish species has yet to be profiled on ARKive. We couldn’t write a blog about Scotland’s wildlife without mentioning the Loch Ness Monster though!

Happy St. Andrews Day!

Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Researcher

Oct 5

Happy World Smile Day! Did you know that today is dedicated to smiles and kind acts throughout the world? Smiling is a universal sign of affection instinctive to us all. But have you ever wondered where our grins come from?

Cheeky monkey

Smiling may have originated from the bared teeth expression made by monkeys when frightened. But in higher primates, teeth bearing is often a sign of submission and non-hostility from a subordinate member of a group towards a dominant member.

Picture of Grey-footed chacma baboon showing submissive behaviour

Grey-footed chacma baboon showing submissive behaviour

From signalling non-hostility and appeasement, teeth bearing is thought to have developed into showing affection and affiliation between equals.

Adult chimpanzee baring teeth

Adult chimpanzee baring teeth

Laughter is the best medicine

It’s also likely that our laughter evolved from another primate expression: the ‘play face’. This facial expression can be seen during playful encounters. For instance, a flash of teeth reassures a gorilla’s playmate that they do not intend to harm them. This appears to be a foundation of human laughter

Young chimpanzee showing prototypical 'play face'

Young chimpanzee showing prototypical 'play face'

It’s easy to imagine that all animals smile and show happiness just like us. Today, they can! For when you’re smiling, the whole (natural) world smiles with you…

Painted turtle (Chrysemys picta)

Belize crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii)

Snake-eyed lizard (Ophisops elegans)  

Photo of bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy World Smile Day!

May 18

ARKive has been going for 9 years now, and our quest to profile every threatened species is still going strong. But the list of species seems to be ever growing – there have been some incredible species discovered during ARKive’s lifetime. It’s a privilege to be able to showcase some of these on the ARKive website. So just what has been found over the last 9 years?  

2003: Kipunji discovered

Kipunji  (Rungwecebus kipunji)

Kipunji (Rungwecebus kipunji)

A remarkable find in 2003, the kipunji was Africa’s first new monkey discovery in 20 years. Originally named the highland mangabey, the kipunji actually belongs to a whole new genus and is far more closely related to baboons than to mangabeys. The kipunji is endemic to southern Tanzania, and its population is thought to number a mere 1,117 individuals.

 2004: Hawaiian cyanea tree discovered

Hawaiian cyanea tree (Cyanea magnicalyx)

Hawaiian cyanea tree (Cyanea magnicalyx)

This large, tree-like shrub is endemic to Hawaiian island of Maui. Sadly, there were fewer than ten Hawaiian cyanea trees remaining by 2008. In Hawaii it is listed as a “Species of Greatest Conservation Need”, and significant efforts are being made to preserve the remaining individuals.

 2005: Goodman’s mouse lemur discovered

Goodman's mouse lemur (Microcebus lehilahytsara)

Goodman's mouse lemur (Microcebus lehilahytsara)

While ARKive was just getting off its feet, another primate was being added to the species tally. Goodman’s mouse lemur, named after primatologist Steve Goodman, can be found in Madagascan rainforests. Its arboreal and nocturnal nature along with its remote location may explain how this primate managed to keep out of the scientists spotlight for so long.

2006: Kaempfer’s woodpecker rediscovered

Kaempfer’s woodpecker (Celeus obrieni)

Kaempfer’s woodpecker (Celeus obrieni)

Originally known from a specimen collected in 1926, Kaempfer’s woodpecker was rediscovered 80 years later. One of Brazil’s most enigmatic birds, Kaempfer’s woodpecker is only found in Cerrado, a unique tropical woodland-savanna ecosystem. Kaempfer’s woodpecker is suspected to have a highly patchy distribution and a small population size. Its habitat is under threat as around three million hectares of Cerrado are destroyed each year.

2007:  Banggai crow rediscovered

Banggai crow  (Corvus unicolor)

Banggai crow (Corvus unicolor)

Known from only two specimens collected in the 19th Century and with numerous expeditions failing to find it in the 1990’s, the Banggai crow was long presumed extinct. Unconfirmed sightings of the crow gave hope to its continued survival, and in 2007 two Banggai crows were recorded, bringing this species ‘back’ from extinction. However, it remains Critically Endangered – the small numbers recorded indicate a very small population in an area experiencing high rates of habitat loss.

2008: Ayres black uakari discovered

Ayres black uakari  (Cacajao ayresi)

Ayres black uakari (Cacajao ayresi)

Another primate discovered in the 21st Century and our second hidden gem of Brazil is Ayres black uakari. It has been seen only twice in the wild and so very little is known about this elusive species. Its short tail has baffled scientists, as long tails normally help arboreal species like the uakari to keep balance in the treetops.

2009: The David Bowie spider discovered

David Bowie spider  (Heteropoda davidbowie)

David Bowie spider (Heteropoda davidbowie)

The David Bowie spider is a large spider with yellow hair, and is found only in Malaysia. It was discovered and named by German spider expert Peter Jäger. Its celebrity common name has helped draw attention to the spider and the often-overlooked threats to this and many other species of invertebrate.

2010: Beaked toad discovered

Beaked toad  (Rhinella sp. nov.)

Beaked toad (Rhinella sp. nov.)

The beaked toad was one of 3 new discoveries on an expedition to find amphibians in Colombia. Its beaked nose gained this species the name ‘Mr. Burns toad” after the notorious villain from The Simpsons. This species has an unusual lifecycle as it bypasses the tadpole stage, with fully formed toadlets hatching from eggs.

More information on the Search for Lost Frogs campaign can be found on the Conservation International website.

2011: Chalazodes bubble-nest frog rediscovered

Chalazodes bubble-nest frog (Raorchestes chalazodes)

Chalazodes bubble-nest frog (Raorchestes chalazodes)

The Chalazodes bubble-nest frog was last seen in India in 1874. An expedition to find the Lost Amphibians of India uncovered 5 species not seen for decades, including Ramanella anamalaiensis and Micrixalus thampii. Many of these species live in highly degraded habitats and remain at risk of extinction.

2012: Leaf chameleon (Brookesia micra) discovered

Leaf chameleon  (Brookesia micra)

Leaf chameleon (Brookesia micra)

One of the most recent additions to ARKive is the leaf chameleon Brookesia micra. This tiny chameleon is one of the world’s smallest lizards, measuring in at just 29mm. This was one of four new species found during an expedition to northern Madagascar. During the day these minute reptiles disappear into the leaf litter, while they can be spotted at night as they climb up to the branches to sleep. Restricted to a tiny range of one square kilometre, Brookesia micra is an example of extreme island dwarfism. Read more about these tiny discoveries on the BBC Nature website.  

These recent discoveries highlight how much of life on Earth remains unknown. The last 9 years have offered a plethora of new and exciting finds: with so much still to uncover, the next 9 years look to be equally as exciting!

Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Media Researcher

May 16

Lowland heaths, mountains, lakes, marshes, peat bogs, chalk grasslands, ancient woodlands and Caledonian woodlands – these are just few examples of the natural habitats found in the United Kingdom, each home to unique collections of plants and animals. We are still able to explore and enjoy these habitats today thanks to the hard work and dedication of The Wildlife Trusts. Established to curb the widespread devastation of natural habitats in the UK, The Wildlife Trusts celebrates its 100th birthday today.

Bluebell wood

A bluebell wood - one of the many natural habitats in the UK

On 16th May 1912, the banker, landowner and naturalist Charles Rothschild formed the Society for the Promotion of Nature Reserves (SPNR), precursor to the The Wildlife Trusts.

For the first time in the UK, conservation efforts were focused on protecting the habitats of species, rather than focusing solely on species. Without this innovative movement, many of the natural habitats we now take for granted would no longer exist.

The society carried out the first ever national survey of wildlife sites in the UK, identifying ecologically important areas. From this, local Wildlife Trusts were set up to protect some of these special places of nature. A big breakthrough came in 1949, when the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act was passed, making the protection of nature a matter of law.

This move from conserving individual species to protecting habitats is still relevant today. There are now 47 Wildlife Trusts managing 2,300 reserves all over the UK. However a recent review on these protected areas found that many are too small and isolated. Connecting existing reserves is the next step in conserving our natural habitat.

Dartford warbler image

Dartford warblers can be found in sites managed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Many worldwide conservation projects now focus on conserving habitats and ecosystems. It is amazing this approach was adopted here in the UK 100 years ago!

In the UK? Find a Nature Reserve near you.  

Watch the Wildlife Trusts’ centenary film on the Wildlife Trust website.

Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Media Researcher

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