Northern Bald Ibis: The quite distinctive Northern Bald Ibis ranks as one of the rarest and most endangered of all known migratory birds.
This ranking occurs because experts know of only 500 wild individuals remaining.
In addition, this creature remains the only species of ibis known to breed and nest along cliff ledges.
All other known ibises have a distinctly different habit since they make their nests in trees. The species also once possessed a significantly greater natural range.
While they once covered much of Europe, northern Africa, and the Middle East, they now occupy only a fraction of that range.
The IUCN lists them as Critically Endangered, due to their extremely limited population.
Conservation efforts continue, yet their numbers continue to decline. The primary causes include habitat loss and illegal hunting.
Image Credit: Photograph by Amos Nachoum
I began my photography career as a fashion and war photographer in my homeland of Israel.
I’m now a wildlife photographer, explorer and motivational speaker.
For 40 years, from the High Arctic to Antarctica, I’ve pursued my quest with a camera to dispel the myth of “dangerous wildlife” and to raise compassion toward these wild creatures.
I execute my mission by inviting select people to join my expeditions, which aim to inspire harmonious interactions between man and big animals.
On one such trip to Ellesmere Island, Canada, in the late summer, the ice was mostly gone, and polar bears were moving from island to island in search of food, including birds’ eggs on the hill cliffs.
I was there to highlight the lives of threatened and endangered wildlife to help raise awareness and protection when I saw this family of two cubs, each at least 18 months old, with their mother.
It was a rare sighting since it’s common that by that age only one cub out of two will make it.
Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Creative
The largest flying bird in North America, the California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) has a wingspan of nearly ten feet.
A captive-breeding program is slowly restoring the species, its numbers reduced to a few dozen by egg poaching and poisons in the 1970s.
Photographed at Phoenix Zoo, Arizona.
The National Geographic Photo Ark is a multi-year effort with photographer Joel Sartore to photograph all captive species and save these animals before many disappear.
See more images via A Flight of Birds: Photo Ark Gallery — National Geographic Animals
Leopards are graceful and powerful big cats closely related to lions, tigers, and jaguars. They live in sub-Saharan Africa, northeast Africa, Central Asia, India, and China.
However, many of their populations are endangered, especially outside of Africa.
The leopard is so strong and comfortable in trees that it often hauls its kills into the branches. By dragging the bodies of large animals aloft it hopes to keep them safe from scavengers such as hyenas.
Leopards can also hunt from trees, where their spotted coats allow them to blend with the leaves until they spring with a deadly pounce. These nocturnal predators also stalk antelope, deer, and pigs by stealthy movements in the tall grass.
When human settlements are present, leopards often attack dogs and, occasionally, people.
Leopards are strong swimmers and very much at home in the water, where they sometimes eat fish or crabs.
Female leopards can give birth at any time of the year. They usually have two grayish cubs with barely visible spots.
The mother hides her cubs and moves them from one safe location to the next until they are old enough to begin playing and learning to hunt. Cubs live with their mothers for about two years—otherwise, leopards are solitary animals.
Most leopards are light colored with distinctive dark spots that are called rosettes, because they resemble the shape of a rose.
Black leopards, which appear to be almost solid in color because their spots are hard to distinguish, are commonly called black panthers.