Photo by @daisygilardini // Polar bears’ reproductive rate is among the lowest of all mammals. Females reach maturity at the age of four- to five-years-old and usually give birth to two cubs. Mortality is high during the cubs’ first year of life, and depends largely on the mother’s health. Cubs will stay with their mother for two and a half to three years. Bears can live anywhere from 20 to 30 years. That means a typical female will have five or six litters during her lifetime, of which two in three cubs will die within their first two years. With such a slow-to-reproduce animal, bad polar bear management could have dramatic consequences on their numbers. Mother bears and their cubs generally emerge from their dens in March or April, when the cubs are strong enough to survive outdoors and are ready to make the trek to the ice. This period also coincides with the seals’ birthing season on the pack ice — easy meals for the mother bears who have been fasting for as long as eight months at this point.
Photo @filipe_deandrade // This beautiful Great Hammerhead is named Pocahontas. I photographed her while in the Bahamas with @jim_abernethy for a new project coming out called "Worth More Alive." Since declaring their oceans a marine protected site, the Bahamas has generated over $100 million towards their local economy from Shark diving. This financial and ecological move has made the Bahamas one of the world leaders in oceanic preservation. Rather than the sub-$500 that a Sharks fins would sell for, in her lifetime of 25-35 Pocahontas could bring in over $1 million of eco-tourism. This truly does make the case, beyond their important role in nature, that Sharks are #worthmorealive If you want to do your part and help put an end to Shark finning in Florida, visit http://www.wildlifevoice.org/campaigns/ Follow @filipe_deandrade for more wildlife adventures.
Photo by @russ_wildlife || I have spent years following big cats but never thought in my lifetime I would see a ‘black panther’ in the wild. (Which is just melanistic color variant of a leopard or jaguar.) Myself, @shannon__wild and @shaazjung have spent hours everyday over many many months tracking every inch of this forest in the south of India just to have the privilege of but a glimpse of this ghost.
Photo @jasonedwardsng A critically endangered Mountain Pygmy Possum cradled in a zookeepers hands. Part of a captive breeding program, these tiny marsupials enter a state of torpor during the winter months where they sleep and exhibit decreased physical activity. Habitat loss and feral predators such as cats have devastated wild populations. I wish I slept this well sometimes! .
Please join me @jasonedwardsng for images and stories from my National Geographic assignments. .
Photo: andy_mann // An oceanic whitetip shark cruises the open pelagic waters off Bahamas. Once the most abundant shark in the ocean has now suffered population declines as much as 95% in some areas. #StopKillingSharks@sealegacy // #followme@andy_mann to learn more about our oceans apex predators. 🦈💙
Video by @bertiegregory / 95% of the world’s Antarctic fur seals breed on the island of South Georgia in the South Atlantic Ocean. Each year in October, the males return from the open ocean to setup territories up and down the beaches. The females then return to these beaches to give birth to a tiny pup. Shortly after giving birth, the females then come into estrous. At this point, the males compete in brutal fights for breeding rights. These fur seals are a great conservation success story. After Captain Cook put South Georgia on the map in 1775, he sent word back to England of enormous numbers of seals. A brutal massacre then followed peaking in 1800 when 112,000 pelts were taken in just a single season. This harvest continued until the seals were hunted down to an estimated 400 individuals. Since then, protection and good governing has allowed them to bounce back to over 3 million! Follow @bertiegregory for more or visit natgeo.com/wildlife to see the whole of this video series.
Photo by @DaisyGilardini // I captured this image of a gentoo penguin colony in a snowstorm on Pleneau Island in the Antarctic Peninsula in November, 2015. I was feverish that morning with flu, and so didn't go out on the ship's first landing of the day. I chose instead to stay in bed and ride out the bug. I couldn't get any rest, though. I tossed and turned, knowing I was missing out on a great storm. Finally, I decided to go out in the afternoon, no matter what. Once on dry land, I hardly made it up the hill, I was huffing and coughing so much. Reaching the top of the hill, I started working a couple of penguins, who were courting. The wind picked up and a strong gust almost knocked me over. At this point, I realized it wasn't really that wise to be out there, considering my cold. I thought it would be wiser to return to the warmth of my bunk in the ship. I started packing up my gear and, when I turned around to descend the hill, this is what appeared before me. In a blink of an eye, I forgot about the fever, forgot about the cold, forgot about the discomfort. It was one of my most memorable shots of the entire expedition, and I was the last one to leave the site to go back to the ship. Perseverance always pays off.
Photo by @CristinaMittermeier // We camped out in the wilds of British Columbia for three weeks, hoping to encounter coastal wolves. When a mother and her three pups revealed themselves, it was a delight to watch them in engage in a game of tug-of-war over a piece of bull kelp they had scavenged from the beach. Adorable as domestic pups at this young age, these three wild canines will soon grow to be quick and fierce scavengers. Coastal wolves feed on any gifts that the ocean washes up, including crabs, clams, seals and sealions. #FollowMe at @CristinaMittermeier for more photos of animals that directly rely on our oceans for survival. #wolfpack#BritishColumbia#playful#nature#photography
Photo by @FransLanting Indian elephants gently touch each other with their trunks at the edge of a lake after they had finished bathing. Indian elephants are just as threatened by human encroachment as elephants in Africa. The last best hope for elephants in Asia is a lush forest in Southern India’s Nilgiri Hills where more than 6000 elephants still survive. Planning corridors of protected habitat is a key to their future and the best way to minimize conflicts with people. Check @WWF-India to learn what people are doing to help elephants in India and lend your support. And follow us @FransLanting and @ChristineEckstrom for more stories about elephants. @Thephotosociety#Elephants#NilgiriHills#Conservation
Photo: @andy_mann // Of all the ways to say “hello”, I generally prefer this one. Intimate wildlife encounters are both exhilarating and immeasurably difficult to get. A little luck goes a long way. During a 2017 climbing expedition to Greenland, we encountered a curious polar bear from our zodiac boat. As it approached, I dunked my camera-housing in the frigid water as it took a dive under our boat and away into the ice forever. And luck would have it 😉. Please follow me @andy_mann for more from this expedition.
Photo by @DaisyGilardini // Two grizzly bear cubs are joyfully playing in the grass during a hot summer day in Lake Clark National Park - Alaska. I simply love spending time among bears… can’t stop smiling when watching them doing what bears do best… be bears! The coastal bear population in this park is very healthy, due to the wide variety of available food. The bears’ food varies from fresh sedges to berries on land, and clams to salmon in the ocean. Follow me @DaisyGilardini for more images and stories behind the scenes.
Photo by @amivitale // Baby panda cubs wrestle and frolic. Chinese scientists and their international counterparts cracked the puzzle of successfully breeding pandas in captivity after decades of disappointment. In a region where bad environmental news is common, the giant panda might prove to be the exception. By breeding and releasing pandas, augmenting existing populations and protecting habitat, Chinese scientists and their international counterparts are on their way to successfully saving their most famous ambassador and in the process putting the wild back into an icon.