Apr 10

© Peter ChadwickAn award winning photographer, Peter Chadwick won the Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Species, supported by ARKive, at last year’s Veolia Environnment Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. Peter has also donated many of his wonderful images to the ARKive project so we thought we should find out a bit more about his work and interest in wildlife photography.

Q: You currently work as the programme manager of the WWF South Africa – Integrated Ocean Use Programme. Tell us a bit about that, and what inspired you to work in conservation?

I have had the incredible privilege to spend most of my life in the outdoors, having grown up in the bushveld of Zimbabwe. Conservation was always an obvious choice for me and I have spent the last 25 years having worked throughout southern Africa in some of its most special wild places. These include the Kalahari Desert, Kruger National Park, the Drakensberg Mountains and the sub-Antarctic Prince Edward Islands. Working across these diverse habitats allowed me to gain vast experience in all aspects of conservation management in all of the different biomes in southern Africa. My special interests are in ecosystem-based approaches to management, developing management strategies for rare and endangered species and in capacity development of conservation personnel.

I currently work as the Programme Manager of the WWF South Africa – Integrated Ocean Use Programme and my work focuses around supporting marine protected areas (MPAs) in South Africa and sub-region. The health and integrity of much of the world’s oceans and coastal environments have been severely degraded and remain threatened by human activities such as over-fishing, pollution, development and unregulated tourism. MPAs have been advocated as an effective management tool for securing and restoring the health of our oceans. My work aims to bring together the strengths and competencies of national government, relevant conservation agencies and civil society to effectively manage and secure our unique and rich marine heritage while promoting social benefits.

Q: Do you have any exciting projects or trips coming up?

I am currently working on a project that aims to raise the profile of South Africa’s MPA’s. Although South Africa has an excellent network of 21 MPA’s, these do not have the same support and understanding that terrestrial protected areas have. With our oceans being under huge threat, these MPA’s play an important role in the protection of habitats and biodiversity as well as being insurance policies for the future of our fisheries stocks. Through the power of iconic imagery, we aim to visually “Bring People to the MPA’s” so that they can begin to see and understand the incredible diversity, uniqueness and importance of these MPA’s. The project is undertaken in collaboration with the South African Department of Environmental Affairs: Branch Oceans & Coasts.

I also continually work on promoting South Africa’s diverse birding destinations and profiling the developmental bird guides that have become important ambassadors and protectors of these often-isolated patches of biodiversity. Through encouraging and supporting the developing businesses of these guides, they in turn are able to educate members of their own communities to support conservation.

Group of African penguins on rock

Peter helps promote South Africa’s diverse birding destinations

Q: Do you have any advice for young people who want to have a career in conservation?

I believe that the role that conservation will play in the future of this planet will be ever more important as there is an awakening to the fact that we cannot continue to abuse our planet at current rates. Conservation leaders are definitely going to be needed into the future and for the youngsters wanting to enter into conservation, I believe that they need to have a deep personal and ethical commitment that is founded in personal engagement with conservation. In other words, while it is possible to gain an intellectual understanding of the various issues it is very important to get out into the field and learn from practical experience. I spent all my weekends and school and university vacations volunteering with different conservation organisations. This helped me gain a good foundational understanding of conservation and more importantly guided me to where I could make the biggest positive impact for conservation. Get out and observe the world around us, as the more you understand about the outdoors, the better decisions you will make to protect it.

Q: What has been your favourite wildlife encounter?

For me every single encounter that I have with wildlife is an incredible privilege and I never stop learning and being amazed by what I see. There is not a single outing in the wild that I do not see something new and exciting and many of these encounters take place close to where I live. We do not necessary have to venture far into the larger wilderness areas and view the “big 5” to see something amazing. I gain just as much from finding a new flower species that I have not seen before and watching a pair of African black oystercatchers feeding under a full moon as from watching a pack of spotted hyaena hunting co-operatively. What is important is that we must make the most of every opportunity and soak in the outdoors that is so intrinsically linked to the wellness of our own souls.

African black oystercatcher pair calling

African black oystercatcher's photographed by Peter

Q: You have worked in lots of interesting and remote places around Southern Africa, is there anywhere else in the world you would really like to go and any species in particular you would like to see?

For me the two places that are always on my dream list to visit are the Antarctic and the Arctic Circle. Their absolute wildness yet total fragility has always enticed me. My visit to the sub-Antarctic’s Prince Edward Islands in the early 1990’s also wet my appetite by seeing locations where mans imprint is minimal and the wildlife accepts us as part of the environment, often having no fear of us. I would love to be able to watch Arctic foxes hunting seabirds amongst their colonies in the Arctic and watch emperor, chinstrap and Adélie penguins in the Antarctic.

Arcic fox portrait, winter coat

The Arctic fox, one of the species Peter would love to see in the wild

Q: And finally, why do you think that wildlife photography and the ARKive project are important?

For me, wildlife photography is a natural extension to my conservation work where I have numerous opportunities to capture photographs that showcase the beauty and complexity of the outdoors. I firmly believe that through a photograph, we have the ability to capture a moment of time, that if correctly composed can positively influence the way that we respond, think and act. I always strive to take compelling and ethical nature images that communicate the key values of the environment, showcasing its benefits and highlighting the need for the protection of our fragile earth. ARKive also needs to be strongly supported. It as an incredible image bank that allows the greater public to view the vast diversity of planet earth, it raises awareness of the plight of the many species and shows the earths fragility and through so doing will hopefully enthuse others to become conservation supporters. Sadly, people only support and protect what they know and ARKive certainly helps bringing the unknown to a vast number of people.

See more of Peter’s images on ARKive, or visit his website to find out more about his work.

Rebecca Taylor, ARKive Media Researcher

Jan 23

“I’m saving the chimps for last, because they throw poop”.

Not exactly the phrase you might expect to hear when talking about an out-of-the-box conservation photography project. But actually, it makes total sense when it comes to National Geographic magazine photographer and avid ARKive contributor, Joel Sartore.

The Great American Zoo Trip is a project five years in the making for Joel. Capitalizing on the incredible biodiversity in US zoos, Joel and his 18 year old son, Cole, have packed pounds upon pounds of photography gear into an eco-friendly Prius and hit the road with several zoos visits scheduled over the next month.

Many photographers have taken pictures in zoos before so what makes Joel’s project unique? Every single species portrait that Joel captures on camera will have the same, identical studio black or white backgrounds. Why? “This black-and-white background technique gives all species equal weight and importance. A tiny beetle is as interesting as a lion, and a two-toed sloth as cuddly as a panda bear” says Joel.

Snow leopard at the Miller Park Zoo. ©Joel Sartore/National Geographic

Snow leopard at the Miller Park Zoo. ©Joel Sartore/National Geographic

Joel has long been a photographer committed to the preservation of threatened species. He has contributed several dozen of his own images to ARKive over the years from stunning California condor portraits to adorable greater prairie chicks.

“The help of organizations like ARKive and National Geographic is critical in getting the word out about Earth’s vanishing biodiversity.  People only save what they care about, and they only care about what they know.  With the Biodiversity Project, I’m trying to get people to fall in love with these creatures before they all go extinct.”

A gold-handed tamarin (Saguinus midas) at the Miller Park Zoo. The future of this species is quite uncertain as it is going to be 'phased out' in favor of other more showy and popular small primate species. ©Joel Sartore/National Geographic

A gold-handed tamarin (Saguinus midas) at the Miller Park Zoo. The future of this species is quite uncertain as it is going to be 'phased out' in favor of other more showy and popular small primate species. ©Joel Sartore/National Geographic

To ride along on The Great American Zoo Trip, Joel will be posting digital dispatches from the road keeping all fans of the project up to date with the latest zoo visits. Or, if we’re really lucky, a story or two of projectile poop.

Liana Vitali, ARKive Science, Education and Outreach Officer, Wildscreen USA

Nov 2

Photo of Chelsea Korfel, ARKive media donorMost of us go to work at our offices, sit at our desks and complete our 9am-5pm, but not ARKive Media Donor Chelsea Korfel. Exchange the office for Cuenca, Ecuador and a desk for a high altitude pond and you have Chelsea’s average day at the ‘office’ when she’s researching the San Lucas marsupial frog. We caught up with Chelsea at the Ecological Society of America conference in Austin, Texas, USA earlier this year and asked her to share a bit about her research, the story behind her images and why she contributes her imagery to ARKive.

ARKive: Can you tell us about the San Lucas marsupial frog?

Chelsea: The San Lucas marsupial frog is a really interesting species because it has a broad geographical and altitudinal range. During my study, I found individuals in ponds from 2,500 to 4,200 meters above sea level! Historically, this was a very common species and males could be heard calling at dusk and, at times, during the day.

Chelsea Korfel photo

Chelsea at one of her San Lucas marsupial frog research sites in Ecuador

Since this species is listed as Endangered according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, I am studying it both in its natural habitat and in captivity. In nature, I am trying to understand how the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, commonly known as the amphibian chytrid, may be impacting wild populations, and in captivity I am working to learn better techniques for raising the tadpoles through metamorphosis. I am doing my research in collaboration with Zoologico Amaru and their amphibian conservation center.

ARKive: Tell us the story behind your two images of the San Lucas marsupial frog on ARKive.

Chelsea: The marsupial frogs have a unique breeding strategy where the eggs are placed in a pouch on the females back after fertilization. She carries the eggs until they are ready to hatch, then she deposits tadpoles into a pond. In the first picture, the female is full of eggs. I was actually looking for a different amphibian species when I found this frog, and I was so startled to see such a big frog that I jumped!

San Lucas marsupial frog photo

The second photo was taken approximately 15 km away. I was visiting the pond to collect tadpoles for a captive husbandry experiment and was very lucky to see this female in the pond. She must have just finished depositing her tadpoles into the pond and she was exhausted.

San Lucas marsupial frog photo

ARKive: What inspires you to contribute your images to ARKive?

Chelsea: As a child, I was inspired by the diversity of amphibians that I encountered through photos of various species. My interest has grown into a career as a biologist. I want to share the experience of my encounter with this unique species with others so that they can appreciate the organisms we share the earth with. I hope that these photos can convey a sense of our own responsibility toward conservation.

We don’t think we could have said it better ourselves! If you would like to join Chelsea and 6,500 other contributors to ARKive, check out our Most Wanted Species list to see which species we have yet to find imagery for and contact the ARKive team.

Interested in reading more stories about ARKive Media Donors? Check out our past ARKive Media Donor Spotlights here!

Liana Vitali, ARKive Science, Education and Outreach Officer, Wildscreen USA

Oct 25

ARKive has recently received a collection of intriguing images from the Smithsonian Institutions WILD project, showcasing an incredible diversity of species in their natural habitats via camera trap images. The use of motion-triggered camera traps are a useful research tool for scientists, providing insight into species’ natural behaviours and are being used across the globe to help learn more about particular species, the habitats in which they live and to help design and implement conservation action.

Dr William McShea, a research ecologist for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, and one of the incredible scientists behind this project, told ARKive, “Putting these images together from different Smithsonian projects has been a lot of fun and a valuable conservation activity. I am always amazed at the seeming poses that we catch animals in as they are going through their lives and the newer video clips give many insights into behaviour and ‘attitude’.  The site is intended as a searchable collection of what animals were present at a specific site and time, and to supplement the museum specimens that have proved so valuable in conservation.”

We have highlighted some of our favourite Smithsonian WILD camera trap images below.

Stunning images

Jaguar camera trap image

This image of the majestic jaguar walking through the forest is one of the most stunning images found in the Smithsonian WILD collection. As the largest cat in the Americas, the jaguar is a ferocious predator. Sadly, however, it is being threatened by human activities such as hunting for pelts.

 Asiatic black bear walking, caught on camera trap

Little is known about the natural behaviour of the elusive Asiatic black bear, something which the Smithsonian WILD project aims to improve. This species of bear has a crescent shaped marking on the chest, which has led to it being called the ‘moon bear’ in some areas.

Interesting behaviours

Ocelot stalking armadillo; camera trap image

The collection features images showing interesting behaviours, such as this ocelot caught sneaking up an armadillo. The ocelot is most active at night, and has a wide ranging diet, from small mammals, birds, and reptiles, to larger animals such as agoutis, deer, and, of course, armadillos.

Caught on Camera

White-lipped peccaries mating; camera trap image

Another behaviour caught on camera, was the mating behaviour of the white-lipped peccary. This species is known to live in groups of as many as 200 individuals, and is a wide-ranging species that requires large areas for survival. This was obviously a well placed camera trap!

African giants

African elephants walking; camera trap image

This incredible black and white image captured the moment a line of African elephants walked past a well-placed camera trap. As the largest living terrestrial animal, this gigantic species has a highly complex social structure centred around family units of females and their calves. Groups of elephants will spend the day wondering their home range in search of food and water, just like the animals in this picture.

 Giraffe caught on camera trap

The giraffe in this image almost seems to be looking into the camera. You can see what Dr McShea meant about these images conveying ‘attitude’, as this picture portrays real character. Giraffes are fascinating creatures that start life with a two metre drop, as they give birth standing up! This doesn’t seem to affect the calf too much, as it is able to stand within 20 minutes of being born, and can grow over 2 metres in its first year.

Beautiful bird scenery

Blue rock-thrush in habitat; camera trap image

This wonderful image shows the beautiful scenery in the blue rock-thrush’s habitat. This image was captured in China but this species has a large range as it is also present in Europe, Africa, as well as large parts of Asia. This small bird must see a lot of amazing scenery!

This just shows a snippet of the Smithsonian WILD camera trap images you can find on ARKive. And this isn’t the end for the project, says Dr McShea, “The projects and photos presented are the start of a bigger project where we hope in the next year to expand the number of Smithsonian projects and to recruit citizen scientists to add their own photos with sufficient data to be useful to conservation science.”

To find out more about the project and to see all of the camera trap images, visit the Smithsonian WILD website.

Rebecca Taylor, ARKive Media Researcher

Sep 25

Lydia Fucsko photoARKive’s media donors are often passionate about conservation and this is certainly true of Lydia Fucsko. Lydia has recently contributed a large number of fantastic amphibian images to ARKive and we were fascinated to hear about her work spreading the word about the plight of amphibians and what the public can do to help.

After undertaking a PhD project on amphibian conservation at Swinburne University, Lydia combined her passion for frogs with her skills as a children’s author and illustrator, educator, photographer, narrator and dramatist to find original and innovative ways of engaging the public with their amphibian neighbours.

Sadly, Australia is home to nearly 50 amphibian species listed as Vulnerable to Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, including some remarkable beauties like the northern corroboree frog and the red-crowned toadlet.

Northern corroboree frog photoRed-crowned toadlet photo

However, Lydia’s passion doesn’t just stop with those species already facing extinction. Pollution, environmental degradation, invasive plant and animal species and human disturbance all threaten amphibians across Australia and Lydia is keen to get this message out there before more species start to disappear.

Author and Educator Extraordinaire!

Green tree frog photoLydia’s upcoming children’s book “My life is in the Toilet” focuses on the plight of species like the green tree frog which is often forced to find rather unusual alternative accommodation after water mismanagement, pollution and habitat loss have left it with nowhere else to go. By utilising photography in new and ingenious ways, merging science and art, capitalising on the universal appeal of adorable amphibians and incorporating terrific ‘toilet humour’, Lydia hopes to inspire the next generation about the need to protect precious wetland habitat and encourage direct engagement with the environment. Interested publishers can view Lydia’s winning book pitch here.

You can learn more about Lydia’s work and hear the narration of the Story of Tiddalik, the Water Holding Frog, by visiting her webpage and YouTube channel. To help engage children with the amphibian cause Lydia has also recently created some humorous new videos of talking frogs discussing topics like the environment, some rather interesting eating habits and the Earth Day Network’s ‘Face of Climate Change’ campaign – make sure you check them out! You can also hear ‘FrogMan’ Professor Mike Tyler’s introduction to Lydia’s work.

Publishers, authors, filmmakers, organisations or individuals wanting to collaborate on projects can contact Lydia directly at lydia@lydiafucsko.com.

And finally, why not check out Lydia’s new images on ARKive.

Claire Lewis, ARKive Media Researcher


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