Photo by @FransLanting This is Lana, an intelligent, feisty, female bonobo making eye contact with me. Bonobos are our closest relatives on the great tree of life, along with chimpanzees. She’s a captive bonobo, and I spent time with her for a series of portraits that reveal personalities and attitudes, to combine with the images that I made of bonobos in the dark jungles of the Congo Basin. Lana has lost most of her facial hair, and that makes it easier to see ourselves in her. After all, we as humans are truly "naked apes,” as Desmond Morris once called us in his classic book by that title. For more stories, see my book, “Bonobo, The Forgotten Ape,” co-produced with Dutch primatologist Frans de Waal. Our book aimed to help people understand how unique bonobos are and how they differ from chimpanzees. @natgeo@natgeotravel@natgeocreative@thephotosociety#Attitude#Ape
Photo by @FransLanting When Lana, a female bonobo, stretched herself I was able to capture some of the unique physical features that distinguish bonobos from chimps. Bonobos have longer legs and a more slender body and female bonobos have more prominent breasts than chimp females. It adds up to an appearance that is eerily human like. Bonobos and chimps are much closer to us than they are to other great apes like gorillas or orangutans. We share up to 98% of our genes with them and some scholars, including Jared Diamond in his book “The Third Chimpanzee,” have suggested changing their scientific names to reflect that close kinship. No more Pan paniscus for bonobo and Pan troglodytes for chimpanzee, but Homo paniscus and Homo troglodytes alongside us as Homo sapiens. Imagine what that would do to get them recognized as the sentient beings they are. I photographed Lana and other bonobos in a captive setting to be able to document details in their appearance and behavior that are difficult to capture in the dark equatorial forests in the Congo Basin where they belong. Follow me @FransLanting and @ChristineEckstrom for more stories about the connections between us and our relatives on the great tree of life. @natgeo@natgeotravel@natgeocreative@thephotosociety#BonoboConservationInitiative#Bonobos#Chimps#Apes#Compassion#Empathy#Naturelovers#Wisdom
Photo by @FransLanting You’re looking at Lana, a female bonobo, playing with another female’s infant by balancing it on her feet—a game any human parent can sympathize with. Bonobos engage in social interactions we long thought of as exclusively human: They play, show empathy—and they practice sex for pleasure. Compared with chimps, bonobo brains are more developed in areas assumed to be vital for emotions like feeling empathy and sensing distress in others. I worked with a captive bonobo community to document intimate behavior impossible to capture in the dense jungles of the Congo Basin, the only place where they occur in the wild. There are fewer than 10.000 bonobos alive and their survival depends on our ability to apply the same kind of compassion to them that we cherish so much in ourselves. Follow me @FransLanting and @ChristineEckstrom for more stories about the connections between us and our relatives on the great tree of life. @natgeo@natgeotravel@natgeocreative@thephotosociety#BonoboConservationInitiative#Bonobos#Chimps#Apes#Play#Compassion#Empathy#Naturelovers#Wisdom
In addition to teaching workshops and leading photo tours around the world, I also teach photography online. On Tuesday March 13 at 1:00 pm Pacific time (PDT) I will do my next CreativeLive course live and online. It’s free for anyone to watch live, no matter where you are—you only have to RSVP for the course on CreativeLive’s site. And it’s broadcast free online for 24 hours. If you're interested in purchasing my past CreativeLive courses, they have created a bundle with a special sales price. Check the link in my Instagram bio to watch the course live online. The course is titled “Another Look with Frans Lanting.” Let me know afterward what you think of the course.
Photo by @FransLanting Here’s a female bonobo looking at you. As we celebrate International Women’s Day it is worth contemplating the different solutions to fundamental gender issues bonobos have come up with. Bonobos are our closest cousins on the tree of life along with chimpanzees, but in their societies the status of females is systematically higher than it is with chimps—or among humans. The social rank of a male bonobo depends on the status of his mother and the bond between mother and son is strong and lasts a lifetime. Among bonobos conflicts are often resolved through sexual encounters instead of by aggression. There is a lot we do not understand yet about them, because they only occur in a remote part of the Congo Basin where they are difficult to study. But we do know enough to appreciate them as kindred beings for whom female cooperation rather than male competition is a way of life. What do you think their relevance is for how we can better appreciate the contributions of women in our societies?
Learn more in “Bonobo, The Forgotten Ape,” a book I produced with primatologist and fellow Dutchman Frans de Waal. And follow me @FransLanting and @ChristineEckstrom for more stories from the world of nature.
Photo by @FransLanting If you wondered about the amazing waterfall scenes in the movie “Black Panther,” here’s the landscape that inspired them. Iguaçu Falls, along the border of Brazil and Argentina, is a spectacle you have to see to believe. No wonder it attracted a movie director’s attention. Dozens of major cataracts and hundreds of tributaries plunge into a dramatic amphitheater formed by the Paraná River, which has the second largest drainage system in South America after the Amazon. Follow me @FransLanting and @ChristineEckstrom for more wonders of the world. #Brazil#Argentina#Iguaçu#Iguazú#Waterfall#Water#Beauty#Naturelovers#Wonder
When male orangutans mature they develop impressive skin flaps that make them look quite different from females. But skin flaps or not, orangutans are not holding their own in the forests of Indonesia and Malaysia. According to a recent study, nearly half of all orangutans, a staggering 150,000 in all, vanished from Borneo during the last 15 years. Habitat loss was a major reason, but even in intact forests the population decline was dramatic and probably caused by direct killings. Learn more and lend your support to the groups below, who are working to save both orangutans and their habitat. Follow me @FransLanting and @ChristineEckstrom for more images of our endangered relatives on the great tree of life. @world_wildlife#orangutanfoundationintl#palmoilfreeproducts#orangutanalliance#orangutan#endangered#ape#Borneo#worldwildlifeday
Photo by @FransLanting It’s rush hour above an immense albatross colony where clouds of birds are coming and going. Many have chicks to feed; others are cruising for mates and looking for a place on the ground to claim as their own. For some it’s their first time back to land in four years—they spent their youth at sea without ever touching ground, and they are unsure where to go now. Check the other image that shows a wider view of the largest albatross colony in the world—it goes on far beyond the horizon. It is an amazing city of seabirds with neighborhoods where the same birds gather year after year but there are always new arrivals in the air. Follow me @FransLanting and @ChristineEckstrom for more wonders of nature.
Our oceans are full of junk and albatrosses searching for food often mistake floating plastic and rubber objects for fish or squid and swallow them. Why do they do that? Well, it’s hard to know what goes on inside the mind of an albatross, but I speculate that they are hardwired to swallow things that feel like fish or squid and plastic or rubber may not taste that different to a hungry albatross. After all, their feeding habits evolved long before there was any plastic junk out at sea. When you walk around an albatross colony you see the sad results. Many thousands of albatross chicks die every year because their parents feed them plastic instead of fish and it clogs up their intestines until they die. It’s heartbreaking to see their decaying corpses full of junk, but because this mortality occurs on remote oceanic islands, very few people know this is a problem, so we need to show and share what is going on. For this image I asked a British Antarctic Survey researcher on South Georgia’s Bird Island to unwrap a roll of plastic that had been regurgitated by a wandering albatross. Imagine what that would have done to the bird or its chick if it had unwound in their guts. Plastic pollution is a global problem, but there are local solutions. They start with banning single use plastic items from your own lifestyle and from your community and there are lots of campaigns gaining momentum that can effect change on a bigger scale. Check some of the hashtags and share this post. And follow us @FransLanting and @ChristineEckstrom for more stories about these amazing birds who deserve better than to die from plastic pollution. @leonardodicaprio@leonardodicapriofdn@birdlife_insta@rspb_love_nature@plasticpollutes@sea_legacy#Albatross#Seabird#Naturelovers#Ocean#Birdphotography#YearoftheBird#Pollution#Plasticpollution#SouthGeorgiaIsland
You’re looking at the outcome of albatross love—a gaggle of black-browed chicks, which have a long way to go before they can lift their wings and become the supreme flyers sailors have admired for centuries. They’re plump from the fish and squid oil they are raised with and they’re all sitting on mud nests built by their parents. After the young birds fledge they will roam the open ocean for several years without ever coming back to shore, but eventually the survivors come back to the island where they are born to seek mates. Follow me @FransLanting and @ChristineEckstrom for more stories about these amazing ocean nomads. @thephotosociety@natgeocreative Albatross #Seabird#naturelovers#ocean#wildlifephotography#Birdphotography#YearoftheBird
Video by @ChristineEckstrom and @FransLanting Albatross courtship involves a dance during which male and female have to be in sync. Mastery of the dance requires practice and that is what these young Royal albatrosses are doing. They are born with a basic knowledge of the dance, but they will only succeed in finding a mate if they can perform the ritual with vigor and self assurance—and if they are sensitive to their partner’s moves. As the late Duke Ellington once said, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.” These young Royals have gathered like teenagers to practice courtship moves on each other in a group; they’ve got the energy and the motivation, but they are trying too hard and still lack the finesse that is needed to woo a mate. When two birds get more serious about each other they will sneak away as a pair and spend time getting used to each other. Does that sound familiar? Watch the previous video we posted as well to compare how relaxed those two birds are with each other. Follow me @FransLanting and @ChristineEckstrom for more stories about albatrosses. @natgeocreative@thephotosociety#Albatross#Seabird#NewZealand#Antarctica#Amazing#YearoftheBird#Wildlife#Courtship#Love