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Zombie fungi Meet the body-snatching organisms

Pride Patagonia of

A rare look iinside nsiide the secret livess of a puma family

Living with hyenas How people and carnivores coexist in an Ethiopian city

A thrilling ocean spectacle along Florida’s coastline

October 2020 £4.50 US $11.99 CAN $12.99 | Vol. 38 No. 11




Living secretive lives against the spectacular backdrop of Chile’s Torres del Paine,

Nestled in the southern reaches of Chilean Patagonia, Torres del Paine National Park may be famous for its windswept granite peaks and impossibly turquoise lakes, but in recent years it’s also become known as one of the best places in the world to encounter pumas. Thanks to two decades of concerted conservation efforts, some 60 individuals now inhabit the park and surrounding private areas, sustained by an ample population of guanacos. In August 2019, photojournalist Lucas Bustamante spent a week amid the ice and snow of this iconic landscape, getting to know a hard-working female and her four six-month-old cubs.

Photo story

PEAKS Patagonia’s pumas are proving a conservation success.

Photographer Lucas Bustamante Words by Sarah McPherson

Oriol Alamany/naturepl.com

Keep your distance: tourists photograph mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.






The idea of ethical wildlife photography encourages people to capture images of nature while putting their subject first. So, what is currently deemed acceptable and why doesn’t everyone stick to the rules? Words by Graeme Green

Clockwise from top left: Visuals Unlimited/NPL (x2); Ross Hoddinott/NPL; Chris Mattison/NPL

Fascinating Fungi work their magic on almost every aspect of life on Earth – in fact, it would be a completely different world without them.

Clockwise from top left: a cross section of the dead man’s fingers mushroom; shelf fungi; map lichen; the gills of fly agaric.

FUNGI Words by Merlin Sheldrake


NIGHT watch

The spotted hyena is the largest hyena species and is seen scavenging in the Ethiopian city of Harar.

A p p y’ fifififi By K


y | Photos L



Talking point

TEENAGE NAGE FIX Why are young children n and gage adults more likely to engage with the natural world than teenagers? And how can n we repair these youngsters’ fading ding connectedness with nature? ure?


ext time you’re scanning your local patch for wildlife, keep an eye out for one of Britain’s rarest creatures. If you’re lucky, you might glimpse a shy bittern through dense reeds, or a hen harrier above a windswept moor. But according to research published last year, one species you’re unlikely to encounter is the ‘less-spotted teenager’. The results might not surprise parents – but they were unexpected for many scientists. “The assumption was, basically, that if you connected [children], you’d have a connected adult – that it’s quite linear,” explains Dr Joelene Hughes, RSPB principal conservation scientist and lead author of the 2019 paper, a collaboration with the University of Essex. The study – which analysed survey responses from participants aged 5 to 75 years, using the Nature Relatedness Scale (NR-6) and Connection to Nature Index (CNI) – revealed that connectedness to nature plummets from a high among younger children to a sharply defined nadir in the mid-teen years (about 16, depending on gender and measure used), then rises again into late teens, before levelling off in their 20s. This echoes Natural England research, also published in 2019, showing that positive attitudes towards nature are at their lowest among teens aged 13–15. True, many young people are passionate about wildlife. You need only read this magazine, or browse A Wild Future

October 2020

By Paul Bloomfield Illustrations Mi ichael Driver/Folio Michael

(wildfuture.weebly.com), to be heartened by the enthusiasm of youth – or some of it. But that’s far from universal. “There used to be almost 100 of our Wildlife Explorers groups across the country, with members aged 5 to 18,” comments Emily Lomax, RSPB youth development manager. “Today, there are only around 40. We don’t know whether that’s driven by a fall in connections with nature, or a reflection of a model that’s just a bit outdated.” What causes this drop-off? Is it a problem, if connections with nature pick up later in life? And what might be done about it? Any parent who’s struggled to prise offspring from their phone might blame increased screen time. In 2002, a University of Cambridge study found that primary schoolchildren were significantly better able to identify PokŽmon creatures than common species such as oak or badger – and use of digital media has soared since.

“Because nature learning isn’t really built into the school day, most young people don’t make time for it.”

A 2019 Ofcom report revealed that 83 per cent of youngsters aged 12–15 own a smartphone; the equivalent report in 2017 found that girls and boys aged 12–15 typically spent 21.5 hours and nearly 15 hours each week using mobile phones, respectively. And US research has suggested that screen time is a significant negative predictor of connectedness with nature. here are, of course, plenty of other demands on teen time. “Looking at UK lifestyles specifically, when you hit 11, you’re changing schools, you’re changing social groups, you’re experiencing hormone changes, you’re starting exams, and everything else that builds until you’re 16,” observes Joelene. “These are the years when you’re finding out a lot about yourself and wanting to fit in,” affirms Amy Hall, zoology student and trustee for the Cameron Bespolka Trust. “Getting up early to go ringing or birdwatching doesn’t always align with your preferred social life. Also, hanging out with adults to learn about insects isn’t deemed that cool among peers. We need to overcome this stigma and make the world of conservation more dynamic and appealing to a teen audience.” There are other barriers to engagement, some involving socioeconomic factors and, specifically, ethnicity. The 2019 Natural England report showed that children living in lower-income areas are significantly less likely


BBC Wildlife







NTLET The striped mullet migration triggers a frenzy of activity along the coast of the sunshine state each autumn, but what’s behind this natural spectacle? Words by Helen Scales Photography by Michael Patrick O’Neill

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