Today is “Monarch Butterfly Day” according to whatever mystical powers-that-be control the hashtags! I’ve had the pleasure of photographing Monarchs over the years at many of Mexico’s renowned preserves that harbor millions of butterflies as they migrate.
It’s with a heavy heart, then, that I make this post – one that should be about the beauty of this creature and the symbolism and joy it brings world-wide. However, tragic events that have befallen a pair of conservation heroes in Mexico should be taking center stage right now until answers are found.
As you may have heard, activists and outspoken critics of the illegal logging activities in preserved areas of Mexico, Homero Gómez González and Raúl Hernández Romero were recently found deceased, both under mysterious and possibly malicious circumstances.
González was an agricultural engineer and the manager of the El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Preserve. Growing up in a logging family, he was a skeptic of conservation efforts and their possible impact on contributing to poverty in the region. His background and education gave strength to his voice when, in the early 2000’s, he became an advocate for curbing the deforestation he was seeing first hand.
Next Wednesday, January 29th I’ll be joined by Dr. Samuel Wasser at Town Hall Seattle to give a special presentation to discuss the many threats to Elephants world wide, as well as the hopefulness surrounding the many measures being explored and executed to curb the decline of their population.
I had the honor of working with Dr. Wasser on my recent book Wild Elephants. As the director of the Center for Conservation Biology, Sam is recognized world-wide on an expert on elephant populations, and a pioneer in the area of non-invasive monitoring methods.
Through photos, conversation, and research notes we will describe the disturbing trends facing elephants – but also the work being done to ensure their continued survival.
It’s #GivingTuesday – so it’s a good time to mention the wonderful charitable organizations featured in my recent book, WILD ELEPHANTS: Conservation in the Age of Extinction. Though the book does touch on the troubling plight of elephant populations, we also explore many of the fantastic organizations and individuals who are out there making a difference and providing hope for the future of these animals.
To that end, if you’re feeling charitable this holiday season here is a list of the organizations mentioned in the book. Maybe the nature lover in your life or the person who has everything would appreciate a simple holiday donation in their name? Anything helps!
I am deeply saddened to hear about the rampant fires currently ravaging the Amazon Rainforest. Relaxed policies on environmental protections and an increased focus on clear-cutting the natural areas has had an immediate and negative impact on a region that already sees numerous fires every year. According to Brazil’s Institute for Space Research, fires in the region number in the high tens of thousands, and an increase of 83% versus this time last year. Smoke pours across Brazil and it’s neighboring states.
Climate change is a hot-button issue these days, and I make an honest attempt to keep politics from being a factor in my work. I get to do what I love for a living, and along the way I also have the pleasure of sharing the world’s beautiful places, animals, and cultures with those whom don’t have the luxury to visit them all. It’s important to me we all share in this experience regardless of our backgrounds and beliefs.
Regardless of our beliefs, or the theories behind the how or why – world-wide climate is changing, and this region of the world is solely responsible for replenishing 20% of the oxygen in our atmosphere and purging a substantial amount of carbon from our air. In times like these I’m hopeful we can put the politics aside and realize the devastating ramifications that occur when we take our environment for granted.
For more information on the topic, and ways to help visit the World Wildlife Fund site on the subject.
I love bears! It is such a privilege to be able to see these intensely intelligent mammals every summer. A bear I photographed as a cub several years ago is now an accomplished mother of three.
This year the salmon were late to arrive, but arrive they did and in great numbers. Every year is a bit different, and though I have commented on the numbers of cubs in the past, it seemed like this year was a bumper crop. Or maybe I was just photographing the same bear over and over and over…I can’t help it if she liked the camera!
As many of you are aware, this glorious region of the planet is under threat. If the Pebble Mine goes through, the bears will lose, the fish will lose, Alaskans will lose, and Earth will lose. It’s short term gain for the few and long-term destruction for the many. Please make your thoughts known to your congresspeople.
Today is #WorldElephantDay! Created in 2012 to bring attention to the issues facing elephant populations in Asia and Africa, now is a good time to mention that this fall I’ll be releasing my latest book, WILD ELEPHANTS: Conservations in the Age of Extinction. In addition to being a collection of my career’s best elephant photos, I’ve worked with Dr. Samuel Wasser of the University of Washington’s Center for Conservation Biology to provide context for all of the many issues these creatures face. A portion of the proceeds from book pre-sales will be donated to this department.
Legendary for their size and intelligence, elephants are one of the most charismatic of megafauna. That they are under siege form poachers is no secret, and the rapidity of their declining numbers is horrifying. However, amidst the steady stream of bad news, all is not lost. Ivory prices are declining, global awareness is advancing, and recent government crackdowns are beginning to stem the flow of illegal ivory.
Wild Elephants is a celebration of these wondrous gentle giants and the renewed efforts countries are taking to protect their heritage and explores what we can do to empower local populations to safeguard the survival of the magnificent species.
Time for a little wilderness and wildlife advocacy. Alaska’s Bristol Bay needs our help. It is home to the world’s largest, most productive salmon run and it is threatened by the advancement of the Pebble Mine. The Pebble Mine would be a massive open pit mine that would leach into the ecosystem of one the most productive wildlife regions on the planet. I have been photographing in the region, which includes Katmai National Park and the famous McNeil River Bear Sanctuary, since the early 1980s, and understand first hand what this massive extraction project would do to the wildlife, the fishery, as well as the thriving, sustainable wildlife viewing industry.
Click here for a brief interview I did on the subject.
Brown bears associated with the Project area are a resource that has high ecological, economic, and social value. Southwest Alaska residents and visitors were estimated to spend nearly $145,000,000 (2019 dollars) annually to view wildlife and generated more than an additional $133,000,000 in associated annual economic activity. Much of the wildlife viewing activity in southwest Alaska is centered on observing brown bears. For more information, this study drills down on the economics involved in brown bear viewing ins South-central Alaska.
I strongly urge you to take 20 minutes and watch Koktuli Wild, a video by Brendan Wells which perfectly illustrates the fragile beauty of the wilderness that feeds the potent Bristol Bay watershed. It is uplifting, beautiful, informative, and most importantly galvanizing. Even if you never see it with your own eyes, just knowing this this wilderness exists is affecting.
UPDATE: 6/29/2019 – The U.S. House of Representatives passed amendment 90, being called the “Huffman Amendment,” to the Energy and Water Appropriations Act. However, this is only the begging and Alaskans have called upon Senator Murkowski to to stand with Alaskans in opposing the Pebble mine.
UPDATE: 7/31/2020 – Following an Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Impact Study, which organizations like the NRDC have labelled as inadequate and flawed, the house has once again voted to suspend any funds for issuing a permit to the mining operation – the battle continues!
The annual NatureBridge Gala is coming up at 6 PM on May 9 at the LEED-Certified Bently Reserve, one of the greenest buildings in San Francisco.
NatureBridge is a national organization that inspires environmental stewardship and science-based experiential learning by connecting young people to National Parks. This year promises to be another inspiring event with keynote speaker, Sophia Danenberg, the first and only black and African American woman to summit Mt. Everest, and 2019 Student of the Year, Kinzie Klein.
Wine from Elsom Cellars will be available and special guests will be in attendance. Up for bid via silent auction will be 30 award-winning photographs, as well as a trip to Africa with all proceeds from the evening benefiting the Angama Foundation in the Maasai Mara.
If you have an interest in traveling to Africa, this will be an excellent opportunity to make the acquaintance of Travel Mentors from Explorer X!
Today is the official publishing date in the U.S. for Trees: Between Earth and Heaven. Back home in Seattle, we’ve been sending out early signed copies for the past couple weeks – so if you may be the lucky ones to have pre-ordered from us, you either have it or it’s on it’s way! There’s no other way to put it – it’s a beautiful 11×14 nearly 300 page book that exceeds even my demanding expectations, and feedback from those whom have received their copies affirms this!
Of course, a book about trees is naturally a book about our environment. Rest assured that in coordination with Roots of Peace, two trees are planted for each tree used in the manufacturing of these books.
To get your copy, and to support a local small business and the work that makes these books possible, you can order your copy from us in my online store, or from your local bookseller. Alternatively, there’s always this option!