I'm currently living in Brazil with my family for five months. We spent two months in Cruzeiro do Sul, Acre living with friends and getting to know the Amazon rainforest as I finished up reporting for the bioGraphic story (see last post). Next we spent three weeks in the Pantanal, checking out both the northern part from Cuiaba and the southern Pantanal from Campo Grande. Spending time at Jaguar Camp and seeing jaguars hunting along the rivers was definitely the highlight.
Now we're relaxing at a familiar spot: Cumbuco, Ceará. We are enjoying the beach and sand dunes of this dry, low-mosquito Atlantic Forest and Catingaa ecosystem. While here I'm working on carving out a Latin American journalism beat for myself by following up on science stories from the Amazon expedition and working up new ideas for future articles and projects. In between walking on the beach, Portuguese lessons, and playing in the waves, of course.
Got a pressing story assignment that needs a reporter in Brazil? Embora! Send me an email or a Whatsapp. I'd love to hear from you. See you back in the States in September!
The Houseboat Amazon expedition was a success! The Vanzolini saki monkey, last recorded alive in 1936 along the Rio Eiru was found. I joined a team of scientists from the U.S., Brazil, and Mexico for seven weeks of the expedition - six weeks along the Rio Eiru and a week on the Rio Liberdade. Read all about it in my first feature article with accompanying photographs for bioGraphic.
This article originally published on El Paso Proud
El Paso, TX
Earlier this week, photographer and journalist Christina Selby began a 2-day photo shoot with the Mexican wolves at the El Paso Zoo that will support long-term Mexican wolf conservation.
“I am creating a portfolio of images that powerfully tells the story of Mexican wolves,” explained Selby. “I hope to be able to dispel myths about wolf behavior, shed light on the challenges the wolves face, and support the important recovery work that’s happening in our region.”
During her time at the Zoo, Selby is working with zookeepers to photograph the wolves inside their habitat. She has also set up a motion-triggered camera that will allow for closer, more intimate photos.
“The work that zoos do to protect endangered species is really important,” said Selby. “Especially as the wild population is struggling. Zoos will play an increasingly important conservation role going forward and I’m excited to be able to document those efforts here at the El Paso Zoo.”
Supporting Selby’s work is one of the many ways that the El Paso Zoo is investing in Mexican wolf recovery. In October, Zoo staff members assisted conservation organizations in building boundary fences to protect wild wolf populations in the Gila Wilderness. In addition, during two separate trips in November, members of the Zoo staff helped round up wolves near Truth or Consequences at the Turner Foundation’s Ladder Ranch where they conduct endangered species conservation research and breeding. During these trips, Zoo staff assisted with physical exams, vaccines, and parasite treatments that prepared the wolves for being released into the wild in Mexico.
“It’s all about partnering,” said Zoo Director Steve Marshall. “No one organization can do it all on their own, but by joining together, we are actively saving animals from extinction. I am very proud that the El Paso Zoo is able to consistently support such important conservation and recovery efforts.”
Selby is a photographer and writer based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She writes about nature, the environment, conservation science, and travel. Her work has appeared in High Country News, Ensia, and Mongabay, among other places. Selby recently completed a fellowship in science writing with The Open Notebook.
To learn more about Christina Selby, visit www.christinamselby.com.
I'm honored to be the recipient of The Open Notebook/Burroughs Wellcome Fund Fellowship for science writing! I'm looking forward to learning from the talented writers, editors, and reader community at The Open Notebook and excited to have this opportunity to contribute.
I'll be joined by the talented science writer Jill Adams who reports on health care, biomedical research, and environmental issues, as my mentor.
Look for my work on The Open Notebook in the coming months.
Getting started in the creative arts such as photography and writing with a niche in conservation can be daunting. Whether in person or through the internet, I've benefited by surrounding myself with those who know more than me and are further down the career path.
Morgan Heim, an Associate Fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers, shares her thoughts on how to break into the creative arts for those driven by passion to engage with conservation.
Read an interview with Morgan here.
Conservation photographer, Cristina Mittermeier, founded the International League of Conservation Photographers with the notion that images can change the world.
In a Creative Live workshop Mittermeier explains, "One of the wonderful things about photography and this kind of photography is that it can really change the course of history. If you make pictures that are compelling enough, that tell good stories, then those pictures can really influence the way that the law is written and legislation is written."
Her passion project for the past 20 years has been documenting indigenous people of the Amazon, with dignity and compassion. She believes indigenous peoples who live close to the earth are the stewards of biodiversity.
When asked why she loves to photograph biodiversity she says, "It's because its loss is irreversible, what we lose is irreplaceable. Everything else - pollution, urbanization, oil drilling - all of that we can remedy. But once we lose a species it is gone forever. So, we need to pay attention. We are on the verge of losing the big ones, the charismatic ones - lions, polar bears, elephants. We've already lost thousands of the little ones. We need to keep reminding people that it's this fabric of life that holds the whole ecosystem together. I think people forget that clean air, clean water, pollination - all of this comes from a healthy fabric. The minute you start pulling the threads it all comes unraveled. So for me, photographing biodiversity and biodiversity loss is super important."
"If you are looking for a career in something that matters...[photography] won't feed you, but it will make you feel good everyday," says Mittermeier.
Watch Mittermeier's TEDx talk on enoughness for more inspiration.
Citizen Science, or, how to have fun and feel like you are making a difference while the world falls apart
A couple weeks ago, I drove up to the Pajarito Environmental Education Center in Los Alamos to see the author Sharman Apt Russell speak. I first learned of Russell while camping in the Gila National Forest volunteering with the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. A group of "citizen scientists," myself included, had gathered to conduct environmental inventories of land that would be proposed for future Wilderness protection designation. A number of them had met Russell as she scoured for stories on citizen science.
She read from her book Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing tiger beetles and other new ways of engaging the world. Having fallen in love with citizen science on a trip to India with Earthwatch Institute earlier this year, her words resonated with me as if I could have written them.
"As the world falls apart, as we lose hundreds of species a day in the most current mass extinction, as I lift my head to the bright blue New Mexican sky and lament and wait and ululate...the idea that there is still so much to discover strikes me as a kind of miracle. We think we've beaten the Earth flat, hammered out the creases, starched the collar, hung her up to dry. We've turned the planet into our private estate, a garden here, a junkyard there, maybe an apocalypse at the end. But no longer wild, no longer mysterious. And yet. [As entomologist Dick Van-Wright said] You could spend a week studying some obscure insect and you would then know more than anyone else on the planet. It's such a cheerful thought."
Through Citizen science we can fall in love with nature again. Maybe that love will save it.