A recent expedition in Bolivia by the conservation group Asociación Armonía, revealed a wonderful surprise for the future of the rare blue-throated macaw: a newly discovered nesting area.
As with many macaw species, the illegal pet trade has devastated wild populations. Only an estimated 200-300 individuals remain in the wild. Where they breed and nest has been a mystery — until now.
The expedition team discovered a handful of nests with breeding pairs, including two nests near a populated farm where the secretive birds seemed unbothered by proximity to humans.
The expedition team hopes that the discovery will also help reveal information about the blue-throated macaw’s breeding behavior and life cycle.
American Bird Conservancy reports, “It’s too early to know for sure whether the macaws found during the expedition are the same birds that visit Barba Azul Nature Reserve in the dry season or whether they constitute a separate population.”
While on an Alaskan cruise my wife chose an excursion where we flew by float plane from Ketchikan to Neets Bay in the Tongas National Forest to hopefully see some ‘wild’ black bears in their natural habitat salmon fishing.
We were not disappointed
Image Credit: Photograp by JennerTaylor/GuardianWitness
The Ruth Glacier, in Denali National Park and Preserve in the U.S. state of Alaska, covers an enormous area in the heart of the central Alaska Range.
Located about 3 miles vertically below the summit of Mt. McKinley, it catches all the snow that falls on the southeast side of the mountain, and as the accumulated snow and ice that makes up the glacier slides down the slope, it get squeezed through a one-mile-wide bottleneck of what is called the Great Gorge.
The Great Gorge is one of the most spectacular gorges on earth. It runs for a length of 16 km and drops almost 2,000 feet over the distance, creating a grade that forces the Ruth Glacier to descend at an impressive pace of a meter a day.
On either side of the gorge are solid granite cliffs that tower 5,000 feet above the glacier’s surface. The depth of the ice within the gorge is more than 3,800 feet.
If the ice were to melt tomorrow, it could create an abyss 2.6 km deep or more than one-half times deeper than the Grand Canyon.
The mountain lining the walls of the Great Gorge rises sporadically into towering spires and has been given names such as Moose’s Tooth, Broken Tooth, Bear Tooth and Wisdom Tooth, to name a few, and really look like animals’ teeth.
So immense are these spires that what appear to be tiny flakes on these walls are actually ledges wide enough to park a tractor trailer.
As the Ruth Glacier flows down a steeper gradient, it tears and fractures into a treacherous 10-square mile section known as the Ruth Ice Fall near the bottom of the Great Gorge.
During summer after the snowmelt, this section becomes virtually impassable.
Although giant pandas spend most of the day eating and sleeping, they love to climb and play.
Here a year-old cub explores the treetops in an enclosure at the Wolong center of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, where captive-bred pandas are trained to live in the wild.
If the animal passes tests to gauge its survival skills and instincts, it will be released into the mountains.
In the 1950s, photojournalist Lennart Nilsson set out to capture the earliest stages of existence.
In April 1965, Life magazine put a photograph called Foetus 18 Weeks on its cover and caused a sensation.
The issue was a spectacular success, the fastest-selling copy in Life’s entire history. In crystal clear detail, the picture showed a foetus in its amniotic sac, with its umbilical cord winding off to the placenta.
The unborn child, floating in a seemingly cosmic backdrop, appears vulnerable yet serene. Its eyes are closed and its tiny, perfectly formed fists are clutched to its chest.
Capturing that most universal of subjects, our own creation, Foetus 18 Weeks was one of the 20th century’s great photographs, as emotive as it was technically impressive, even by today’s standards.
And its impact was enormous, growing into something its creator struggled to control, as the image was hijacked by the fledgling anti-abortion movement.
Foetus 18 Weeks was taken by Lennart Nilsson, part of an astonishing series of prenatal pictures by this visionary Swedish photojournalist. His groundbreaking pictures have now reached a whole new generation, having just been shown at the Paris Photo art fair, the first time they have ever been exhibited outside Sweden.
Polar bears congregate on the barrier islands of Kaktovik in northern Alaska every fall to partake in leftovers from Inupiat (northern Eskimo community) whaling before the Beaufort Sea freezes and they move on to hunt seal.
”It was a surreal experience,” says photographer Laura Keene, ”to be in the presence of these magnificent creatures.”
Image Credit: Photograph by Laura Keene, National Geographic Your Shot