The ibex is the king of the Alps, famed for its curved horns and extreme climbing skills. But for centuries, these mountain goats were hunted by humans – to the very brink of extinction. A royal hunting reserve in Italy saved the Alpine ibex, but is climate change now threatening them all over again? We tell the story of their remarkable comeback and ask what the future might hold.
The Alpine ibex, also known as the steinbock, bouquetin, or simply ibex, is a species of wild goat that lives in the mountains of the European Alps. It is a sexually dimorphic species: males are larger and carry longer, curved horns than females. Its coat colour is typically brownish grey.
We leave you this Sunday among trumpeter swans braving winter’s chill near Cayuga, New York. Videographer: Carl Mrozek.
The trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator) is a species of swan found in North America. The heaviest living bird native to North America, it is also the largest extant species of waterfowl, with a wingspan of 185 to 250 cm (6 ft 2 in to 8 ft 2 in). It is the American counterpart and a close relative of the whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus) of Eurasia, and even has been considered the same species by some authorities. By 1933, fewer than 70 wild trumpeters were known to exist, and extinction seemed imminent, until aerial surveys discovered a Pacific population of several thousand trumpeters around Alaska’s Copper River. Careful reintroductions by wildlife agencies and the Trumpeter Swan Society gradually restored the North American wild population to over 46,000 birds by 2010.
A wildlife photographer travels to India intent on documenting the rarest stork on earth but soon discovers a conservation hero and her inspiring efforts to rally a community to save it.
The Greater Adjutant is a large scavenging stork that was once widely distributed across India and Southeast Asia but is now confined to a last stronghold in Assam, India, with small populations persisting in Cambodia’s northern plains region. The species is classified as Endangered by the IUCN with a rapidly declining population of around 1,200 individuals. The key threats to the species are direct human persecution, particularly at nesting colonies, habitat destruction, including felling of nest-trees, and drainage, conversion, pollution and degradation of wetlands. Historically, adjutants bred during the dry season, taking advantage of abundant prey steadily trapped by receding water levels, and scavenging the remains of now extirpated megafauna. Today, the last adjutants survive alongside humans, congregating at garbage dumps and nesting colonially in rural villages. The majority world’s remain population lives around the city of Guwahati and relies on a single garbage dump for food and nearby villages for nesting. As the adjutant’s nesting colonies occur outside of state protected areas in Assam, community conservation initiatives are the only hope for saving the bird from extinction. Through the efforts of a remarkable conservation leader, Dr. Purnima Devi Barman, and the movement she has inspired, the birds are now protected, celebrated, and increasing their numbers locally. Despite this success and the momentum to conserve the species, the Greater Adjutant’s existence remains precarious.
Also this week, Rick Kraus, a research scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, talks about how his group used a powerful laser to compress iron to pressures similar to those found in the cores of some rocky exoplanets. If these super-Earths’ cores are like our Earth’s, they may have a protective magnetosphere that increases their chances of hosting life.
Concerned by a recent drop in population numbers of the threatened golden lion tamarin, conservationists in Rio de Janeiro state have built a bridge across a busy highway to help the monkeys circulate over a wider forested area.
The golden lion tamarin, also known as the golden marmoset, is a small New World monkey of the family Callitrichidae. Native to the Atlantic coastal forests of Brazil, the golden lion tamarin is an endangered species.
Nearly 30 percent of the 138,374 species assessed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for its survival watchlist are now at risk of vanishing in the wild forever, as the destructive impact of human activity on the natural world deepens.
As one of the largest species of Lemur, the Diademed Sifaka is an endangered species that is endemic to Madagascan rainforests. With their long legs and short arms, they are marvellous at leaping through the trees of the rainforest, with each leap being as long as 10m. However, take this adapt leaper out of the trees and onto the forest floor, and things become a bit more bouncy!
Madagascar, officially the Republic of Madagascar, and previously known as the Malagasy Republic, is an island country in the Indian Ocean, approximately 400 kilometres off the coast of East Africa across the Mozambique Channel. At 592,800 square kilometres Madagascar is the world’s second-largest island country.
The Arabian oryx is a beautiful, almost luminously white antelope. But, after being over-hunted by humans in the 20th century, it only narrowly escaped extinction. Today, on the desert island of Sir Bani Yas, the endangered animals find refuge. Part of an archipelago west of Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas is home to a large wildlife reserve, where animals from Arabia, Asia and Africa roam freely. You can watch cheetahs hunting, and imagine how the Bedouins once lived, under open desert skies. Established in the 1970s, extensive ecological measures turned Sir Bani Yas into a man-made “paradise for wild animals.” Now, the reserve stands for the region’s desire for a sustainable future. It’s also a great place to see the magnificent Arabian oryx running free, once more.
Sir Bani Yas Island is part of the Al Gharbia region of the United Arab Emirates. It’s dominated by the Arabian Wildlife Park, with its roaming giraffes, cheetahs and gazelles. Multiple archaeological sites across the island include the ruins of an ancient Christian monastery. Salt dome hills define the island’s desert interior. The coast features beaches, sea kayak routes and a shipwreck.
“Some of the largest and most wonderful creatures in Africa have become very dear to me over the years,” Schmeisser writes. His book of portraits carries two messages. “It [is] a homage and warning at the same time—a visual message with the aim of sharpening our clouded view of the one, infinitely complex and vulnerable nature and to recognize which treasures we are about to irretrievably lose,” he writes.
There are exactly two black rhinos left in the world, a subspecies of the white rhino, the very last of their kind. In this deeply poignant tribute, photographer Joachim Schmeisser presents these rhinos as well as other wild animals in the Amboseli National Park in Kenya, where Maasai tribespeople ensure that nobody endangers them. With his breathtaking black-and-white images, Schmeisser brings us up close to these extraordinary and endangered creatures, creating a powerful document of nature’s splendor and fragility.