March 16, 2011
Written by Amos Nachoum
The Law Of The Wild says kill only when you are hungry. Photographer Michel Denis-Huot, who captured these amazing pictures on safari in Kenya’s Masai Mara in October last year, said he was astounded by what he saw:
“These three brothers (cheetahs) have been living together since they left their mother at about 18 months old,’ he said. ‘On the morning we saw them, they seemed not to be hungry, walking quickly but stopping sometimes to play together. ‘At one point, they met a group of impala who ran away.. But one youngster was not quick enough and the brothers caught it easily’.”
These extraordinary scenes followed.
The images, which ran in the Daily Mail, show the cheetahs playing with the impala and the sequence ends with the impala running away, you assume to safety and a happy ending. But that’s not the whole story. When you look at Denis-Huot’s website, he posts the entire series, which ends with the big cats eating the impala. Sorry, no Disney ending here.
The picture sequence shows how complicated the animal world really is, and how often we want to simplify it by putting our own human vision on it. Cheetahs are hunters at heart, and those in the pictures probably didn’t kill the impala right away because they weren’t so hungry, or because it was a different time of the day than when they usually hunt, or for some other reason. Many animals, though, show kindness, and even to people. There are sometimes reports of dolphins rescuing fishermen from capsized boats, and there was even one recently about a pod of dolphins helping a lost dog. Naturalists like Bernd Heinrich have written about how ravens will share food with each other in the dead of winter, and scientists Frans de Waal have studied how primates will help their sick and take care of their elders. We may have a lot in common with animals, but we also need to respect them for who they are, not for what we think they are. This is a truth that I discover, and share with you, on so many of my BigAnimals trips.
Follow me on Twitter. Look at my How I Did It series on Facebook. I tell you how I made some of my iconic photographs.
March 3, 2011
I am lucky to count Dr. Sylvia Earle among my friends. She is also a powerful friend of the ocean, working to call attention to the most important issues of conservation, education and change. Her TED talk from February 2009 is still strong and still affects people. She talked about how we’ve eaten more than 90 percent of the big fish in the ocean and how the ocean’s coral reefs are disappearing. And she has also said that the next decade will be the most critical and important in the next 100 years when it comes to ocean conservation. Last April, inspired by her words and action, a group of 100 scientists, activists and philanthropists set out on an adventure called the Mission Blue Voyage. Their goal is to find and get the word out on what they call “hope spots” – places that deserve to be protected, saved and restored.
This is what Dr. Earle calls “the blue heart of the planet.”
Hosted by the National Geographic society, Mission Blue has tracked whale sharks in the Galapagos and investigated conditions in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Mission Blue has been described on the TED blogs, and also in Time magazine. Dr. Earle’s wish is to create marine protected areas on the high seas. Just like governments have created parks on land, Dr. Earle wants there to be sanctuaries on and under the water. Think of them as national parks at sea. I know how she’s feels – I am a co-founder of Israel’s Marine National Park on the Red Sea.
I’ve heard about a movie Dr. Earle is part of and I’m looking forward to telling you more about it when I can. Earlier this year, when she received a lifetime achievement award, they played a clip. Have a look at it - I think you’ll find it inspiring.
If you want to experience the Galapagos first hand, I am leading an expedition there with a September 17th departure. This is a rare dive trip to the Galapagos, since it is for a full two weeks. Last year’s prices were $13,900 for the Master cabin and $13,500 for the Deluxe. Now we’re offering them at $11,900 and $11,500. This includes the domestic flight to Galapagos and other local taxes. Book now and take advantage of this deal because there are only eight spaces left. Departures on Sept 17 – Oct 3.