Video by @FransLanting The intensity of a wildfire is hard to imagine if you have not experienced a blaze up close. I captured this scene the other night in Santa Barbara where one of the largest fires in California history is raging through the mountains. With a long lens I was able to stay safe, yet get into the middle of it. You can see vortexes of fire form and reach up into the sky just like solar flares emanating from our sun. But this is our earth and this current wildfire is yet another indication that our planet is under pressure. California governor Jerry Brown has declared this fire a part of the “New Normal,” as the state is adapting to the consequences of climate change. More than eight thousand firefighters have been assembled to combat the fire. They are heroes when it comes to battling the flames, but we need a much bigger global force to address the root causes of this inferno. Check the hashtags below to learn how you can engage.
“The New Normal” I drove into Santa Barbara yesterday for a family visit. We passed miles of scorched woodland from last year's wildfire and now the town is under siege by the latest megafire that has hit California. This is a scene from last night, in the hills above town. Governor Jerry Brown called this part of the "New Normal” at a press conference two days ago. The state is getting hotter and drier. And fires now break out when we are supposed to be getting rain. Everyone is anxiously awaiting the first winter storm to give the land a reprieve. Follow me @FransLanting for more images and stories of a planet under pressure. @natgeocreative@thephotosociety#California#Wildfire#Climatechange#leonardodicaprio@christineeckstrom
Happy Holidays Friends! If you are still looking for a one-of-a-kind gift, we hope you’ll consider our new book “Into Africa.” It captures the wonders of wild Africa—and shows what is at stake in the twenty-first century. The standard edition is available in stores and online, but the Collector's Edition is only available from our Studio. This luxurious, oversize version of the book includes a beautiful clamshell case and is limited to 250 numbered and signed copies. The price is $350 plus tax and shipping. We can ship overseas too. If you would like to receive your copy in time for the holidays, please contact us by Dec. 11 at +1-831-429-1331 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adorable, but vulnerable, three cheetah cubs watch their mother hunt in the Serengeti Plains, a few weeks after they first emerged from a den inside the rocks where they spent their first month hiding from predators like lions, hyenas and leopards. More than half of all cheetah cubs do not survive the first four weeks of life and most of the rest do not make it beyond their first year. Cheetahs can’t climb trees like leopards, they can’t dig burrows like hyenas, and they’re not social like lions, so they are vulnerable no matter where they are. I photographed these cubs on assignment for @NatGeo and we cheered on their mother as she was facing the difficult challenges of motherhood alone. I would like to salute the individuals and organizations who are in the forefront of safeguarding a future for these endangered cats and hope that you will support them too. Thanks to Luke Dollar and NatGeo’s Big Cat Initiative, Laurie Marker and her Namibia-based Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), Rebecca Klein and the Cheetah Conservation Botswana project (CCB) and Luke Hunter and his collegues at Panthera. Follow me @FransLanting for more images of cheetahs and other inhabitants of Wild Africa.
Video by @ChristineEckstrom and @FransLanting Experienced cheetah moms, like all good mothers, are both vigilant and tolerant. Watch how this mother puts up with the antics of her cubs until they wear themselves out and suckle and go to sleep. What you don’t see here is how this mother is constantly scanning the horizon for signs of trouble. The fate of cheetahs as a species depends on the ability of a small number of exceptional females to nurture cubs to independence and to keep them safe while doing so. We call them “supermoms.” And any mother who is juggling child care with earning a living and other responsibilities, can relate to that. Stay tuned for more stories from the wild world of cheetahs.
Photo by@FransLanting Cheetahs are the most vulnerable of the world’s big cats, with cub mortality as high as 95 percent, often due to predation by lions and hyenas. But studies have shown that a small number of cheetah females are so good at raising cubs that we can call them “supermoms.” Here in the grasslands of Kenya’s Maasai Mara one remarkable supermom scans the horizon for trouble with a cub next to her. Today is International Cheetah Day and we’d like to give a shout out to the individuals and organizations who are working to safeguard a future for these amazing cats and hope that you will support them too. Thanks to NatGeo’s Big Cat Initiative, Laurie Marker and her Namibia-based Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), Rebecca Klein and the Cheetah Conservation Botswana project (CCB) and Panthera. Follow me @FransLanting for more images of cheetahs and other inhabitants of Wild Africa.
Photos by @FransLanting Some thoughts about food as we move on beyond our Thanksgiving food feasts. Our digestive system has not evolved much beyond what we inherited from the common ancestor we share with chimps and it’s based on a largely vegetarian lifestyle. Laid out here are items from a typical day of chimp foraging in the forest of west Africa; lots of leaves, some fruits, and in the middle you can see a handful of termites. Sugar, salt, and fat are almost non-existent in a chimp's diet, but they love it when they can get it. Honey is a prized find. Rare animal kills provide chimps with protein and with fat and salt. When Chris and I tracked chimps in Senegal, during the day we ate what we could carry along in our packs during long days in the field. In the second image you can see what that added up to. We relied on tomatoes, carrots, and bell peppers along with peanuts, hard-boiled eggs, and dried meat all bought at a local market. It was basically a paleo diet. The only luxury item were granola bars and we treasured those like the chimps loved their honey. At night we would have a cooked meal but even so, I lost twenty pounds of weight during this assignment; and after our recent Thanksgiving feast I’m ready to go back to a chimp diet for a while. Follow me @FransLanting for more images and stories from the natural world we all depend on. @thephotosociety@natgeocreative@Christineeckstrom#Food#Chimps#Paleodiet#Health#Assignment
Video by @ChristineEckstrom and @FransLanting Protein is hard to come by in the forest where chimps live in Senegal, and one important source for them is termites, which are plentiful here. To catch these nutritious insects, they go fishing in termite mounds, using a plant stem as a tool. They insert the stem and angry termites cling to it with their jaws. It’s a clever way to get them out, but it takes precision to do it right. Chimps learn this skill when they're young—and you can see in this video how 1-year-old Fanta is trying. We showed you in a previous post what happened when Fanta discovered water. Here, she watches how adults catch termites and tries to mimic them. She is not very good at it yet, but practice will make perfect. Follow me @FransLanting for more stories about chimps and other inhabitants of wild Africa.
This is Mike, a young male chimp we got to know in the Fongoli region of southeast Senegal. We worked with him and his family for six weeks, following them on foot through their forest. There are less than 200 chimps left in Senegal and their future hangs in the balance, just like it does for all chimps in Africa. Habitat loss and the bushmeat trade are the major threats to their survival. As we gather together with family during this holiday season, let’s embrace our next of kin on the great tree of life. We can all help chimps survive by supporting the individuals and the organizations that protect them and the forests they depend on. Check the links below for the World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots, and Jill Pruetz’s Neighbor Ape project in Senegal, which we support through GlobalGiving.org online. Follow me @FransLanting for more images and stories from our family tree. @ChristineEckstrom@janegoodallinst@rootsandshoots@world_wildlife@conservationorg@leonardodicaprio@racingextinction@WNF#chimps#Africa#Senegal#wildlife#conservation
Video by @ChristineEckstrom and @FransLanting When the female chimp we knew as Farafa led her young infant, Fanta, to a secret waterhole, we were treated to a display of play that made us wonder about the nature of chimps —and our connection to them. Fanta was just one year old and had never experienced a water hole before. While her mother watched she explored the water with a leaf, but then she discovered her own reflection and began to interact with it, making funny faces and ultimately kissing herself, like a child might do in front of a mirror. When we showed this video to Jane Goodall she was as enchanted by this display as we were. Field work with chimps is hard, but glimmers of insight into our fundamental kinship make it all worthwhile. We do not think there is much that separates us from chimps—what do you think? @natgeocreative@thephotosociety#chimps#Jane#Janegoodallinstitute#Rootsandshoots#family#Play#Wonder#Gratitude
Usually we are behind the camera, but here is a rare look at both of us. When I met @ChristineEckstrom, she was a staff writer at @NatGeo Books and I was a freelance photographer for @NatGeo Magazine, but ever since we joined forces in life and work, we have combined our skills—and expanded them. While I create photographs, Chris covers our subjects on video, so we can tell our stories using multiple media together. Our gear keeps evolving, but our mission has remained the same throughout the years: We want to share the wonders of our living planet at a time when its future is imperiled—and make a difference where we can. We’ve dedicated our lives to that. And we hope you can help us spread the message.
Sometimes our fieldwork involves lots of support, but when we tracked chimps in Senegal, we had to be minimalist. The chimps were shy and did not tolerate strangers besides the two of us, researcher Jill Pruetz—whose work was crucial to ours—and two local assistants, Mboule and Johnny Kante, who helped us greatly with tracking and carrying the heavy loads of gear we needed for long days in the forest from dawn till dusk. In this image we’re smiling for the camera, but if you look closely you’ll see our clothes are drenched in sweat. It takes teamwork to do what we do. You can catch a glimpse of an exhausted Johnny in one of our recently posted video clips. Mboule was a wonderful man and chief of the nearby village of Fongoli, who passed away recently. We miss him! Please stay tuned for more images and stories from wild Africa. @natgeocreative@thephotosociety#Africa#Gratitude#Teamwork#Wildlifephotography#Creativity