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AFRICAN SAFARI

RUSSIAN BEARS

AMAZING WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY Discover a world of incredible wildlife experiences


CONTENTS 04

Whale graveyard discovered by a road in Chile

42

Astonishing images of minibeasts

Welcome Welcome to the Best of BBC Wildlife Magazine, a UK title that for 50 years has showcased the greatest wildlife photography, natural-history stories and conservation news from around the world. We wanted to give international readers the chance to sample what we do. So within this very special, digital-only edition, you’ll find an astonishing photographic portfolio on Russian bears (p11), a feature about the wildlife of the Florida Everglades (p24), an African safari (p30), the Tasmanian devil (p36) and extraordinary invertebrate photography (p42). This is a taster of what the magazine does every month for Britain’s natual-history enthusiasts. We are already thinking about issue two, but to make that happen we need your help. We’ve created a short survey and would love it if you could let us know the kind of content you’d like to see in our next issue. And if you want to get even more involved, you can volunteer for our new Readers’ Panel who will help us commission articles for future issues. I hope you enjoy this very special issue, and look forward to hearing from you soon.

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How the Tasmanian devil protects its island ecosystem

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Wild Photos

The extraordinary wildlife of the Florida Everglades

04 Whale graveyard Over 40 whale fossils by Pan-American highway

06 Australian green tree frogs Matt Swaine Editor matt.swaine@immediate.co.uk

TAKE THE SURVEY YOU WILL NEED TO BE ONLINE

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Research highlights how frogs survive dry conditions

08 Elephant seals Wildlife in the shadow of whale-hunting industry Best of BBC Wildlife Magazine


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Russian bears waiting for five million salmon

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Features 11

Kamchatka bears What happens when five million salmon meet one species of Russian bear?

24 Florida Everglades How researchers are working to save this extraordinary landscape

30 Zambia safari

36 Tasmanian devil Discover how this remarkable marsupial protects its island ecosystem Best of BBC Wildlife Magazine

42 Secret world of insects Astonishing photography that gives an insight into the invertebrate world

50 Your Photos Readers’ best wildlife photographs from their global adventures

58 South African sardine run A BBC Wildlife Magazine reader shares an amazing wildlife experience

BBC WILDLIFE MAGAZINE PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS AND BACK ISSUES Tel +44 (0)844 844 0251 Email wildlife@servicehelpline.co.uk Post BBC Wildlife Magazine, PO Box 279, Sittingbourne, Kent ME9 8DF, UK OTHER CONTACTS immediateapps@ App Support servicehelpline.co.uk Advertising Laura Gibbs +44 (0)117 314 8760; laura.gibbs@immediate.co.uk Syndication Emma Brunt +44 (0)117 314 8782; emma.brunt@immediate.co.uk

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Cover photo: Will Burrard-Lucas

Hippos, bee-eaters, lions, elephants and more

OR GET IN TOUCH… EDITORIAL Tel +44 (0)117 314 7366 Email wildlifemagazine@immediate.co.uk Post BBC Wildlife Magazine, Immediate Media Company, 9th Floor, Tower House, Fairfax Street, Bristol BS1 3BN, UK


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WILD PHOTOS WHAT TO SEE O NATURALIST SKILLS O DISCOVERIES

4 WHALE GRAVEYARD

Monster highway This site beside the Pan-American Highway in northern Chile has been called Cerro Ballena, or ‘whale hill’, because of the 40 or so spectacular cetacean fossils discovered here. But the name doesn’t do justice to the breadth of finds unearthed during work to widen the road. Other creatures that died here six to nine million years ago include a giant marine sloth, a seal that resembled a mammalian plesiosaur, a walrus-whale with lop-sided tusks that behaved like a manatee and a shark related to a modern-day mako. They all perished in four separate incidents over a period of some 10,000– 16,000 years; scientists have surmised that toxic algal blooms were to blame. Visit http://cerroballena.si.edu to take a tour of the site. Photograph by Adam Metallo/Smithsonian Institution


4 AUSTRALIAN GREEN TREE FROGS

Self-absorbed These frogs survive the dry season by absorbing condensation on their bodies, according to researchers from Charles Darwin University, who often saw them sitting out on cold nights. When they return to their dens, they can absorb up to 60 per cent of the condensation that forms on their skin. “I took the image while working with the University of New South Wales,” says David Herasimtschuk. “We were looking at the intricate relationships between the frogs and the water flows in the Macquarie Marshes. With very high densities, especially during wet periods, these frogs appeared to be a crucial component in the functioning of a healthy ecosystem and they provide a vital food source for many other species.” Photograph by David Herasimtschuk/davidherasimtschuk.com


WILD PHOTOS


WILD PHOTOS

4 ELEPHANT SEALS

Safe harbour Two southern elephant seal pups frolic near a wrecked sealing ship, the Albatross, during a summer snowstorm in December on South Georgia. The former whaling and sealing settlement at Grytviken has been a ghost town since operations ceased in 1964, but at its peak in 1914 was processing vast numbers of these marine mammals for the oil in their thick blubber. To take this photograph, Anthony Smith sat on the edge of the derelict pier as the curious pinnipeds ventured within 2m of his camera. Tony Martin of the South Georgia Heritage Trust (www.sght.org) rejoices in the irony of the image. “What a joy it is to see everincreasing numbers of seals within sight of the rusting legacy of man’s blind exploitation of these gentle giants,” he says. Photograph by Anthony Smith/anthonysmithphotography.com


PHOTOGRAPHER PROFILES BBC Wildlife Magazine has always featured the world’s best wildlife photographers. Here are some you can see in this digital issue...

DAVID HERASIMTSCHUK David Herasimtschuk has a background in freshwater ecology and much of his work focuses on creating imagery that helps inspire a greater appreciation of our freshwater environments. “For me, capturing an intimate moment within these seldom-seen worlds is one of the greatest tools to help keep these aquatic environments free and wild,” says David. www.davidherasimtschuk.com

MICHEL ROGGO Michel Roggo is a Swiss photographer who specialises in freshwater subjects and has developed techniques for shooting underwater without having to dive. He has since become an award-winning leader in his field. Michel went to Kamchatka as part of The Freshwater Project, which will see him visit 30 of the finest freshwater locations in the world. www.roggo.ch

ANTHONY SMITH Anthony Smith began his career as a sculptor and photographer after studying zoology at Cambridge University. He now travels the world observing and photographing animals in their natural environment. He recently returned from a two-month residency on the subAntarctic island of South Georgia. www.anthonysmithart.co.uk


KAMCHATKA BEARS

PORTFOLIO

All photos naturepl.com

K AM C H ATK A B E ARS by Michel Ro g g o

Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula is famous for its resident brown bears. In summer they feed on migrating salmon and rainbow trout in the Ozernaya River. Michel Roggo used an underwater camera on a pole to get as close to the animals as possible. “I had to be careful not to approach the bears, but to wait for them to come to the camera,” he says. “My patience was rewarded when the dominant male went fishing in front of my lens. For a wildlife photographer it was the experience of a lifetime.” Best of BBC Wildlife Magazine

MICHEL ROGGO Specialising in freshwater subjects, Michel works mostly underwater, often with remote-controlled systems. He went to Kamchatka as part of a project that will take him to the finest freshwater locations in the world. www.roggo.ch ABOVE When a bear sees a sick or wounded salmon, it jumps on the fish, pressing it into the gravel of the river bed with its claws. It is astonishing how fast an animal weighing more than half a tonne can move.

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KAMCHATKA BEARS

SALMON RUN The Ozernaya River is located in the Kronotsky Biosphere Reserve in the far east of Russia. Every August, up to five million sockeye and some humpback salmon swim from the Sea of Okhotsk upstream into the Kurile Lake to spawn. During that period, brown bears in the surrounding area migrate to the Ozernaya. On the outflow of Kurile Lake there is a research station in the perfect place to count passing salmon. With a high concentration of fish in this location, it is a fantastic spot for both hungry bears and wildlife photographers too. I was given a special permit to work here thanks to my experience with non-intrusive, remote-controlled systems.


KAMCHATKA BEARS


KAMCHATKA BEARS

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KAMCHATKA BEARS

NEAR MISS F G This bear has just jumped on a sockeye salmon, but missed it. This isn’t unusual – while I was observing the animals, only about one in four hunting leaps was successful. The white spot on the fish’s head suggests that it is already wounded; bears prefer to hunt weakened prey because it is easier to catch. This is part of the process of natural selection, and is in itself important for the long-term survival of Pacific salmon in the Ozernaya watershed.

RICH PICKINGS G When a bear does finally catch a fish, it sits on the river bed to feed. It removes the skin first, then – if the prey is a female, as in this photo – swallows the eggs before consuming the filet. I sometimes saw bears eating dead or even decaying fish, though there were plenty of live ones swimming around. This big bear fed very close to me, avoiding eye contact but listening carefully.

DREADED CLAW F The last sight for many salmon in this area of the river is the claws of a hungry bear. In this instance it was actually investigating my pole cam. There were three young brown bears hanging around the research station, constantly causing problems. So I had to be careful and avoid any needlessly close encounters.

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KAMCHATKA BEARS


KAMCHATKA BEARS

DOWN THE MUZZLE After watching the bears on the Ozernaya for some time, I realised that the dominant male always fished at a particular spot. So I got there early one morning and waited patiently. He finally came out of the forest, walking through the river just in front of me, and began to fish without looking in my direction. Hours later, I slowly slid the camera into the water on a long pole. The bear moved away a little. When I did the same thing the next day, he stayed close, investigating the camera under and above the water line. He was clearly getting used to it. I ended up watching the bear with my camera for days, though there were occasions when he made it clear that he wasn’t comfortable with my presence by moving his head from side to side.


KAMCHATKA BEARS

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KAMCHATKA BEARS

TAKING THE PLUNGE F Here the dominant male is chasing a salmon. He left the forest to catch four or five before returning to rest. During this time other bears came to this fishing spot, including younger animals and females with their cubs. But they were clearly wary of older males, and their fishing trips were never as successful. Bears need to gain enough fat to fuel their highenergy winter hibernation. Without these reserves they will starve to death or be forced to leave their den before spring to look for food. Also, females cannot conceive until they have accumulated sufficient reserves – and the more salmon one eats, the higher her chance of having twins.

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WAITING GAME G Fishing requires plenty of patience. Salmon can smell a bear and may even see one in clear water, and so they stay at a distance. But the longer a bear waits, the closer the fish swim. To create these underwater images, I held the camera housing on a long pole in the water, sitting at a distance of perhaps 5–8m. But with no armed ranger by my side, I had to be very careful. I knew the Japanese photographer Michio Hoshino, who was killed by a bear while he slept in a tent on the banks of Kurile Lake in 1996. You always have to stay on your toes around these magnificent animals.

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KAMCHATKA BEARS


KAMCHATKA BEARS

TIME TO RELAX I’d often watch the bears sitting in the river after they ate, seemingly just relaxing and looking around – the Ozernaya is cold, but that’s not an issue when an animal weighs 600kg with a significant layer of fat as insulation. A bear’s posture communicates its mood. For example, a male sitting down, looking away and yawning to feign a lack of interest indicates that he is subordinate and doesn’t want to challenge other bears for dominance, fishing spots or females. During my first encounter with the dominant male here I just sat nearby avoiding eye contact. It was only when the bear appeared comfortable that I introduced the camera.


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June 2014


Meet the Local TEAM Patch Reporters WILDLIFE RE

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DUNCAN RICHARDSON NEWPORT “The Raspberry Pi is a small computer with amazing potential. I’ve used it to create a time-lapse of my garden and monitor the weather, and its motion-detection facility records nesting blue tits in HD to stream into my house.”

We have 20 Local Patch Reporters sharing their wildlife discoveries around the UK, who feature in the magazine every month. Now we want to sign up wildlife bloggers around the world! To get involved head to our website or email me directly at matt.swaine@immediate.co.uk

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ALEX OXFORDSHIRE “I’ve been filming my local badgers with a trailcam, and the people at Badgerland (www.badgerland.co.uk) sent me a badger-observation diary to fill in. Now I can build up a picture of when the badgers come out and maybe recognise some of them.”

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LISTEN SARAH HOLMES NORWICH “The swallows, house martins and sand martins told me spring had arrived during my visit to Strumpshaw Fen in April. It wasn’t only members of the Hirundinidae family – marsh harriers were out in full force, too. Though you’re almost guaranteed to spot them there, it was fantastic to see at least four in flight.”

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“During a scan of a small beach I spotted a cetacean vertebra among the rocks. It’s larger than the porpoise vertebra that I found earlier this year. A scientist that I showed this to says that it’s rather worn, but probably comes from a juvenile long-finned pilot whale.”

See more at www.discoverwildlife.com/localpatchreporters

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June 2014

Sign up to our newsletter now to receive all of the latest news and the best wildlife photography, and to take part in reader polls: www.discoverwildlife.com BBC Wildlife

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Dwarf mangroves – here beside Old Ingraham Highway and photographed by the light of a full moon – rarely grow more than 1m high. They are common in Everglades National Park, but scarce elsewhere.

AMERICAN

DREAM

Despite a century of ecological damage, the Everglades harbours beautiful landscapes and extraordinary wildlife. As field biologist and photographer Mac Stone explains, researchers are working to ensure that it stays that way for the next 100 years, too.


FLORIDA EVERGLADES

B

e sure to check for alligators before you jump,” the pilot yelled over the thunderous drone of the helicopter. I stared into the murky water, looked back at his bearded grin, took a deep breath – and leaped. The tepid water lapped at my chin as the chopper lifted off, and the low, fading hum of the rotor was quickly replaced by the gnawing trill of mosquitoes. I was left with one small boat, one oar, one camera and the blind faith that this wasn’t just an elaborate prank. It was my first day on the job in the Everglades with the National Audubon Society’s Tavernier Science Center. Though my introduction to this vast wetland of cypress sloughs, sawgrass prairies and mangrove swamps was unusual, it sowed the seeds of a love affair. I’ve been working here ever since as a wildlife photographer and field biologist. It’s been three years, and I still haven’t had enough. The Everglades earns its fame from the River of Grass, a slow-moving, 160km-long and 100km-wide sheet of fresh water that flows southward from Lake Okeechobee before emptying into Florida Bay. At the confluence of fresh and saltwater, a vast estuary is formed, giving refuge to America’s largest population of wading birds and the world’s largest continuous stand of mangroves. Though a significant portion of the Everglades is protected by the US National Park System, the lifeblood of the ecosystem has been under assault for 100 years. At the turn of the 20th century pioneers set out to drain the wetlands to create land suitable for agriculture and development. By diverting freshwater flows with levees and canals, nearly two-thirds of the water was rerouted from its historical path. As a result the system experienced


IT IS THE RARE COMBINATION OF TRUE WILDNESS YET TOTAL ACCESSIBILITY THAT MAKES THE EVERGLADES SO SPECIAL.


FLORIDA EVERGLADES TOP These roseate spoonbills and snowy egrets were feeding on concentrations of fish in Eco Pond. Just before Mac took this photo, a passing bald eagle spooked the birds, and they all took off in unison. BELOW LEFT This unnamed, meandering creek is one of many in the Everglades that funnel water from the River of Grass into Florida Bay. BELOW RIGHT Atlantic tarpon grow up to 2.5m long – bigger than a harbour porpoise – and weigh as much as 160kg. This one is jumping for a fish ‘bait’ at Robbie’s Marina, Islamorada, where they gather to scavenge scraps from fishermen; though they can be seen leaping in Florida Bay, they mostly feed below the surface on other fish and crabs.

LEFT During the winter American crocodiles seek out mud banks where they can bask – at low temperatures they become sluggish, and this allowed Mac to get very close and capture this candid shot. They are a different species to the arguably betterknown American alligators.

catastrophic shifts in its ecology, particularly at the southern end of the watershed. The Tavernier Science Center is one of many research organisations operating in the Everglades, where I work as part of a team of eight researchers that helps to provide the science that underpins conservation plans. Because of its sheer size, remote locations and diverse biomes, the ecosystem is tough to monitor. So, instead of encompassing the entire region, scientists study ‘indicator species’ that rely upon a combination of ecological factors to survive. Our research focuses on one of the icons of south Florida: the roseate spoonbill, a bright-pink bird with a spatula-shaped bill. Visitors to the park in the dry season (November to April) have the best chance of seeing this species in great numbers, because the birds time nesting to coincide with low water levels – sometimes there are more than 1,000 birds in one pond, and the sound is deafening. Witnessing this and other spectacles does not require a

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special permit or knowledge of the area. Indeed, visitors to the park can go from fresh water to estuary simply by driving the main park road, the Old Ingraham Highway. One of the first places you’ll come to after entering the park is the Anhinga Trail. Here, walking out over the blackwater pond, you are greeted by rows of bellowing alligators clamouring for prime basking real estate, and anhingas – which resemble long-necked cormorants – dodging submerged scaly masses as they hunt for prized sunfish. Back on the road, one of the first things you’ll notice is the sky. A pancake-flat landscape, the Everglades lacks the dramatic topography of other American natural wonders such as the Grand Canyon, but in compensation you see a complete hemisphere of sky filled with candy-floss tufts of cumulus clouds. As you head south, stop at Nine Mile Pond, the quintessential freshwater dwarf-mangrove habitat of the Everglades. You can rent a kayak or canoe here, though in the dry season you may find yourself pushing alligators BBC Wildlife

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THE EVERGLADES EARNS ITS FAME FROM THE RIVER OF GRASS, A 160KM-LONG AND 100KM-WIDE SHEET OF FRESH WATER.

ABOVE It’s easy to see how the River of Grass earned its name. The rainstorm is a reminder, too, that water is the keystone of the whole ecosystem. RIGHT Atlantic bottlenose dolphins are commonly seen in Florida Bay where they often ride the wakes of passing motorboats. This pod stayed with Mac for about 15 minutes.

out of the way with the end of your paddle. Finish your journey at Flamingo Marina, where people gather to watch the almost daily show of West Indian manatees wrestling in the murky water and American crocodiles basking on the muddy banks. You can also see resident ospreys, which build their enormous nests just a few metres away. During the winter, visitors watch as the male brings fresh fish to his screaming chicks. Canoe or kayak out into Florida Bay to explore the mangrove forests and tidal grass flats. At high tide, brown pelicans dive-bomb schools of mullet, and on the outgoing tide, lemon sharks trawl the water with their dorsal fins slicing through floating grass mats. Bottlenose dolphins also frequent this estuarine ecosystem and will sometimes swim over to check out your boat. It is this rare combination of true wildness yet total accessibility that makes the Everglades so special. And while the research stations continue to do their work, it should remain so. I feel privileged to be involved. MAC STONE grew up exploring the wild rivers and swamps of northern Florida. His book Everglades: America’s Wetland will be published in October 2014.

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FLORIDA EVERGLADES NOW YOU DO IT GETTING THERE X Airlines that fly direct from the UK to Miami, Florida, include American Airlines (0844 499 7300; www.aa.com), Virgin Atlantic (0844 209 7777; www.virgin-atlantic.com) and British Airways (0844 493 0787; www. britishairways.com).

GETTING AROUND

ABOVE Ospreys rarely nest on the ground, but they can do this on the islands of Florida Bay because there are no land predators here. This male is returning with a fine prize from his hunt – an emerald parrotfish. RIGHT Brown pelicans can dive at speeds of 70kph. Draining the water from their beak pouch, they throw any fish they catch into the air and swallow them headfirst.

X To get to Everglades National Park, rent a car at Miami International Airport. X Garl’s Coastal Kayaking runs kayaking and hiking trips within the Everglades. www.coastal-kayaking.com X Rent a kayak or canoe at Flamingo Marina (below).

PLACES TO VISIT X Highlights include Paurotis Pond, Nine Mile Pond, Snake Bight, the Anhinga Trail, Eco Pond and Flamingo Marina. See www.nps.gov/ever/ planyourvisit/things2do.htm

VISAS X UK citizens must register for an ESTA (https://esta. cbp.dhs.gov).

WHEN TO GO X Dry season is November to April. For birds and other wildlife, visit during February and March. For rare orchids visit in June and July, but don’t forget insect repellent.

FURTHER READING X Everglades National Park and the Surrounding Area by Roger L Hammer (Falcon, 9780762734320, £12.99).

LEFT A water moccasin or cottonmouth earns its name from the striking behaviour of opening its brightwhite mouth and showing its fangs when threatened. It’s one of the few venomous snakes in the Everglades.

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THE LUSHNESS OF LUANGWA Most people avoid Zambia’s South Luangwa Valley during the rainy season, but from harrumphing hippos to breeding bee-eaters, there is much to enjoy, says Jonathan Lorie. Photos by WILL BURRARD-LUCAS TOP A view of the Luangwa River from the air shows the many sandbanks along its course – these constantly shift, a sign of a dynamic ecosystem that has never been dammed. LEFT The South Luangwa Valley suddenly ‘greens up’ during the rainy season, here providing a beautiful, lush backdrop to a small family group of elephants.

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on’t put anything on the edge of the boat,” Aubrey Njobvu shouts above the revving of the engine as he zigzags between brawling pods of hippos, 30 or 40 strong, their dark eyes watching us angrily from the brown waters of the wide Luangwa River. “If one of those fellows nudges us, you’ll lose anything that’s not tied down.” His companion, a ranger in army fatigues, fingers a rifle. I stare at the fast-flowing water, the distant banks and the teeth of the nearest hippo, each about the size of my fist, as it slams into a rival male. The shock waves from their impact start to rock our boat. And then I see my first crocodile. A river safari on the swollen waters of South Luangwa National Park in Zambia, in the rainy season, is not for the faint-hearted. We are sitting in a 3m-long steel canoe with a tinny outboard motor and nothing but an ancient boltaction, single-shot rifle to protect us. Here the crocodiles are supersized, nearly 4m long – and those are just the ones I see as we race around a bend. But this is what I have come here for. Zambia is one of Africa’s great authentic wildlife destinations and South Luangwa is its finest national park. David Livingstone crossed this valley in the rainy season of 1866 and recorded the experience in his journal. “It is impossible to describe its luxuriance,” he wrote. Even today, it is a largely untamed wilderness: 9,000km2 of lush grassland and swamp, where annual floods feed vast oxbow lakes that are havens for entire food-chains, from lions to leopard tortoises. Unlike BBC Wildlife

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ABOVE With an estimated 40,000 hippos in South Luangwa, there’s one in front of (or behind) you wherever you go. RIGHT Genets – here a large-spotted genet – are numerous in the park, but you will only see them at night. FAR RIGHT Elephants and impalas (in the background) are ubiquitous throughout South Luangwa.

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SOUTH LUANGWA VALLEY LEFT The sight of thousands of carmine bee-eaters emerging from their nestholes in the sandy banks of the Luangwa River is one of the most popular attractions of the park – they breed between September and November. BELOW Though the landscape is drabber during the dry season, this is a better time to see South Luangwa’s large mammals such as zebras – they are more concentrated in areas of the park close to water sources.

many of Africa’s great rivers, the Luangwa has not been dammed or channelled, and as a result there’s a greater sense of ‘nature in the raw’ here. Despite – or because of – this, South Luangwa gets relatively few visitors, and numbers fall away completely during the December–April rainy season, when large areas of the park flood. At this time of year, the estimated 40,000 hippos – reputedly, the world’s largest single population – are much in evidence, as is the rich bird life. Indeed, from our canoe I can see fabulous colours darting all around me: the emerald green and carmine red of bee-eaters, and the electric blue and orange of malachite kingfishers. The hippos are still putting on a show when Aubrey announces it’s ‘gin o’clock’. He takes us well out of range and creaks open a mahogany chest, inside which are bottles and glasses. “Two shots or a double?” he grins. The sun is setting in a swirl of purple and gold and the moon splashes silver across a line of hippo eyes, warily watching us still. We get even closer to the power of nature next morning Best of BBC Wildlife Magazine

EVEN TODAY, THE LUANGWA VALLEY IS A LARGELY UNTAMED WILDERNESS: 9,000KM2 OF LUSH GRASSLAND AND SWAMP. on a walking safari, for which South Luangwa is justly famous. We start in the chill of dawn, puttering down-river to moor on a hollow tree. Fish eagles swoop and bulbuls call their honeyed notes. The riverbank is pitted with animal prints. Our ranger goes first, rifle at the ready. He signals that all is safe and we clamber up the bank. Aubrey points at a line of mopane trees, where three elephants are stripping their leaves for breakfast. We follow as they browse across a clearing some 30m away. A troop of baboons scamper behind us. Ever alert, Aubrey hears the distant cough of a lion, and though he tries to find it for BBC Wildlife

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WALKING SAFARIS WERE PIONEERED IN LUANGWA BY THE CONSERVATIONIST NORMAN CARR.

ABOVE Will Burrard-Lucas photographed these African wild dogs with a camera mounted on a remotecontrolled car.

RIGHT African jacanas normally feed on invertebrates taken from floating vegetation or the surface of the water – but a relatively static hippo serves equally well.

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us, the big cat slips away unseen. He’s just describing the matriarchal nature of elephant families when the real thing emerges from a patch of woodland – 14 of them, including cows, calves, juveniles and a bull. They converse with each other in deep rumbles, and I watch for an age, enchanted. This type of free-form stroll among live and potentially dangerous creatures was pioneered here in Luangwa by the legendary conservationist Norman Carr. In 1950, he had a bright idea: could tourists be tempted to photograph the wildlife, instead of hunting it? He persuaded local chiefs to create a pristine game reserve and launched walking photographic safaris. African ecotourism was born. Carr’s nickname among the locals was Kakuli, meaning ‘Old Buffalo’, and this is the name of the camp where I’m staying, deep in the bush. It’s run by the company that bears his name, Norman Carr Safaris, and is a long way from anywhere. There’s a compound of reed huts in a sandy clearing by the river and a bar with a view. My room has open walls and a frog in the shower. Bird calls Best of BBC Wildlife Magazine


SOUTH LUANGWA VALLEY RIGHT Yellow-billed storks nest from February to June in South Luangwa – the best colonies are found in the Nsefu Sector on the eastern side of the park.

NOW YOU DO IT GETTING THERE X British Airways (www.british airways.com) flies direct to Zambia’s capital Lusaka. X Indirect flights are provided by Kenya Airways (www.kenya-airways. com), South African Airways (www.flysaa.com) and others.

BELOW Lions and other large predators are a key part of South Luangwa’s ecosystem and a major attraction for all visitors – seeing them on foot adds an extra frisson to the experience.

GETTING AROUND X Proflight (www.flyzambia.com) flies to Mfuwe (for South Luangwa).

WHERE TO STAY X Lodge providers within South Luangwa include: The Bushcamp Company (www.bushcampcompany. com), Norman Carr Safaris (www. normancarrsafaris.com), Remote Africa Safaris (www.remoteafrica. com), Robin Pope Safaris (www. robinpopesafaris.net) and Shenton Safaris (www.kaingo.com). X Only Norman Carr and Robin Pope operate in the rainy season. X Tour operators include Audley Travel (www.audleytravel.com), Exodus (www.exodus.co.uk) and Expert Africa (www.expertafrica.com).

HEALTH & SAFETY X Antimalarials are advised, as are vaccinations against typhoid, polio, hepatitis and tetanus.

WHEN TO GO X The dry season is May–November, but for bird life try the rainier period, December–April.

FURTHER READING X Bradt Travel Guide: Zambia by Chris McIntyre (ISBN 9781841623733, RRP £18.99).

LEFT Elephant shrews are nocturnal and hard to see. They are not actually shrews, but belong to the same ‘clade’ of mammals – Afrotheria – as their distant jumbo cousins, the elephants.

fill the air and hippos snort in the shallows. Despite the camp’s remoteness, dinner is served on crisp white linen at a table beneath the evening stars. Candles flicker on tall glasses, and the cook produces pumpkin soup, chicken kiev and a crème caramel. I ask Aubrey what he’s learned from his decades as a wildlife guide. “That animals are more peaceful than us,” he replies. “We are the only species that kills its own. The others manage more peacefully somehow. Humans are always fighting to be front of the queue. You do not see this with buffalo.” He pauses and grins across the table. “They take more time than we do. And you in the West take even less time than us.” I gaze at the velvet night, the swirling river and the archaic huts, and realise that I have travelled – just for now – deep into another world. JONATHAN LORIE is a travel writer and former editor of Wexas’s magazine Traveller. He offers travel-writing tuition through the firm Travellers’ Tales.

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Better the

DEVIL you know The Tasmanian devil helps protect the island against invasive species, so no wonder conservationists are doing all they can to save it from extinction, says James Fair.

M

arrawah, in Tasmania’s far north-west, is truly one of those places that feels like the end of the world. Cut off from the rest of the island by an expanse of temperate rainforest and with nothing to the west but some 15,000km of Southern Ocean (until you hit Argentina), it’s also one of the best places on Earth to come face to face with the devil. The Tasmanian devil, that is. Until his untimely death last year, beef farmer-turned-conservationist Geoff King ran the renowned ‘Devil Restaurant’ here. The menu was pretty basic: a single roadkill wallaby or wombat (staked out in front of a wooden hide, no seasoning required) that lured diners by the bus-load. “One night I saw 13 different devils,” Geoff told me when I visited the restaurant back in 2005. “The next night I saw 22. I can tell them apart by the white stripes on their chests.” My own visit to the ‘restaurant’ saw two hungry customers come to sample the cuisine – an old male

with half his lower lip missing and worn fur on his backside, and a young female who almost passed for pretty. The male fed for some 40 minutes, during which time, Geoff said, he could have eaten 2.5kg, or 25 per cent of his bodyweight. His feasting was accompanied by the sounds of cracking bones and tearing sinews that were transported into the hide by Geoff’s unconventional use of a baby monitor.

STORM WARNING But even then there was a cloud on the horizon. Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD), an infectious, viralinduced cancer, had taken hold, wiping out the species in many parts of the south and east of Tasmania, reducing the overall population by an estimated 80 per cent and marching north and west – towards Marrawah. “I’m not sure I want to be doing this when it arrives,” Geoff said. Back in 2005 our understanding of DFTD, first identified in 1996, was relatively poor, and scientists have learned a lot in the intervening years, though this has not

Photos by HEATH HOLDEN


While roaming a trail at night, a curious Tasmanian devil triggers a cameratrap set beside a fallen branch.


Tasmanian devil habitat is often intersected by small streams, which the animals seem to enjoy crossing – they are strong swimmers.

included any progress on how to stop the disease. Indeed the possibility that Tasmanian devils – the world’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial, once widespread across Australia but now confined to this island state – could become extinct in the wild has been mooted. A captivebreeding programme was hastily established, with the idea of creating an ‘ark’ population that would ensure the survival of the species should the worst happen.

A MODERN�DAY ARK Today those ark devils number more than 600, distributed across 33 zoos and captive-breeding facilities in Tasmania and mainland Australia, with additional ‘ambassador’ animals as far afield as San Diego and Wellington, New Zealand (though sadly none in the UK – yet). According to a leading devil scientist, the total is enough to permit the conservation community a brief pat on the back. “We’re beyond panic now,” David Pemberton told me last month; he manages the state government’s Save the Tasmanian Devil Program. “It’s generally a safe mantra in mammalian biology that if you get more than 500, you’re safe. Now we can consolidate.” Not only that, but an experimental introduction of Tasmanian devils onto the devil-free Maria Island has been more successful than anticipated. A total of 25 animals have been released in two phases – the first in October 2012, the second in 2013 – with the initial cohort of 14 giving birth to an estimated 24 offspring in their first breeding year alone. Tasmanian devils have four teats and can easily raise to independence two or three young a year. “By 2016, we could have a couple of hundred animals on Maria Island,” David says, “and we will have a nice little headache.” 38

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Right, below and below right: a large male devil is trapped in an industrial area. A vet checks its health, including looking for signs of tumours, and fits a microchip. The animal is then released into bushland.

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The extreme (and extremely windy) north-west of Tasmania, Woolnorth is believed to have the highest population density of Tasmanian devils anywhere on the island.

TASMANIAN DEVIL

FAC T F I L E

TASMANIAN DEVIL Sarcophilus harrisii

WEIGHT 10–12kg (males); 7–8kg (females). LENGTH Head and body: 50–80cm; tail: 23–30cm. ID TIPS Squat, dog-like marsupial about the size of a bulldog with distinctive white stripe across its chest. DIET Mainly carrion of dead wallabies, possums and wombats, but will also catch live animals. Young devils will take amphibians and insects.

just three weeks, but can only then suckle a maximum of four. Young devils become independent at about 10 months. Average lifespan is five years.

HOTSPOT WOOLNORTH The extreme (and extremely windy) north-west of Tasmania, Woolnorth is believed to have the highest population density of Tasmanian devils anywhere on the island.

HABITAT Found all over Tasmania (where not eliminated by DFTD), but especially dry eucalypt forests, woodland and agricultural areas. STATUS Endangered. Wild population estimated at 10,000–25,000 mature individuals.

LIFE�CYCLE Devils can breed in their first year, with mating usually between January and March. Females give birth to up to 20 young after

Clearly no devils can leave or enter Maria Island on their own. At some point the population will exceed the habitat’s carrying capacity – the number of devils that can be sustained by the available prey: brushtail possums, pademelons (a small species of wallaby that is endemic to Tasmania) and wombats. No one quite knows what the figure is, though 150 has been suggested. In fact Save the Tasmanian Devil already has an idea of what to do with any surplus animals. Bold plans have been formulated to reintroduce them to two parts of Tasmania where DFTD has wreaked havoc, the Tasman Peninsula in the far south of the island and Freycinet on the east coast.

TA S M A N I A

Hobart

HOTSPOT MOUNTAIN VALLEY WILDERNESS The only place in Tasmania with regular devil-watching – lodge owners leave roadkill outside their log cabins to attract them. Also good for other Australian endemics such as platypus, echidnas and sugar gliders. www. mountainvalley.com.au

HOTSPOT TROWUNNA WILDLIFE PARK Trowunna has the capacity for almost 40 devils and is an important cog in the insurance population created in response to DFTD. It’s also a partner in the ‘Ambassador Devil’ initiative in which animals have gone to zoos in both the USA and New Zealand. Visitors are welcome. http://trowunna.com.au

HOTSPOT MARIA ISLAND The introduction of devils here was the first planned release of the species into the wild in response to DFTD. The island is renowned for (introduced) forester kangaroos and other marsupials such as pademelons, plus 11 out of Tasmania’s 12 endemic birds. Day and overnight visits are possible. www.parks.tas.gov. au/index.aspx?base=3503

HOTSPOT TASMAN PENINSULA The location of the next planned release of devils from the insurance population, the Tasman Peninsula has been badly hit by DFTD, though it was never a stronghold. The peninsula is also home to the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park. www.tasmaniandevilpark.com

THE SOUNDS OF CRACKING BONES AND TEARING SINEWS WERE BROUGHT INTO THE HIDE BY GEOFF’S USE OF A BABY MONITOR.

A quick look at the geography of Tasmania demonstrates that these will be very like an island population, with fences (or a canal in the case of Tasman) supplementing the natural sea boundaries. Still, the question remains of whether those wild devils left on mainland Tasmania are doomed by the ongoing spread of DFTD. No one knows this either – David reports that monitoring over the next five years should resolve the issue. Nick Mooney, a former Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife official who helped Geoff set up the Devil Restaurant, believes that the declines may, in fact, have come to a natural end. “Even in the areas affected by DFTD for the longest period, devils have stabilised at above their 1950s–1970s numbers,” he says. “Increasingly it’s looking to me as if the Maria Island introduction was never needed,” he adds. “I know it was done in part because a successful colonisation would be sexy and they desperately needed a run on the board, but in my view this should have been a last resort.” Nick’s point is that you mess with island ecosystems at your peril. They are famously fragile – think Mauritius and its dodos. He fears that Save the Tasmanian Devil has overestimated the number of devils that can live on Maria

Left: a cameratrap photographed these devil joeys play-fighting in an industrial area.

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TASMANIAN DEVIL

The Tarkine Wilderness Area is the last known area free of DFTD in Tasmania.

The Tasmanian devil is quite shy, though it does engage in loud displays of aggression when competing for food or feeling threatened.

Island, which he reckons could be closer to 30–50 than 150. Typically, he says, an introduced predator (whether by chance or design) ‘overshoots’ what the habitat can sustain, eventually resulting in serious welfare issues when animals that cannot find sufficient food begin to starve. David argues, however, that they are ready to deal with this situation. “If we think the body condition of the devils is collapsing because there’s not enough prey for them, we will either take animals off or feed them,” he says.

A PATRIOTIC PROJECT It’s not hard to see why Tasmanians are desperate to save their devil. First it’s an endemic species, and a dramatic one – 10kg of compact muscle and fur that resembles a pitbull on steroids, with a growl to match. Second there’s the spectre of the Tasmanian tiger or thylacine, the larger predatory marsupial that was hunted out by white colonists in the early decades of the 20th century, with the last known individual dying in Hobart Zoo in 1936. But there’s another factor too – the devils protect the island from invasive species. Creatures such as rabbits and domestic cats and dogs that Europeans brought to Australia have wreaked havoc on native wildlife across the Bass Straits. But, on the whole, they are either absent from Tasmania or, in the case of cats and dogs, have not run feral to the same extent. This has allowed smaller, rarer marsupials to flourish. Foxes are another would-be invader. They have hitchhiked to Tasmania on ferries, and even, it’s believed, been brought in deliberately, but they have failed to become established. Scientists say that the presence of devils probably makes it 40

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impossible for any vixens to raise any young, because their dens can be easily tracked down and the cubs eaten. According to the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service, an established fox population would prey on “at least 70 vertebrate species” and the annual cost – in terms of ecological damage and loss of revenue from ecotourism – could be AU$20 million (US$18,664,200). It makes the state government’s funding for Save the Tasmanian Devil of AU$2 million look a bargain. It might seem like missing the point, of course, to value the Tasmanian devil in dollars and cents. This is a beast, after all, that earned its name from European settlers as a result of its unearthly screams and growls, and has a jaw strength that, pound for pound, equals the spotted hyena’s. And like hyenas and vultures in Africa, it also performs the valuable ecological role + FIND OUT MORE of consuming carrion, in addition to BBC video and audio hunting for itself when the opportunity clips www.bbc.co.uk/ arises. While far from a conventionally nature/life/Tasmanian_Devil beautiful wildlife experience, a Save the Tasmanian Devil Tasmanian devil with its head inside the Program www.tassiedevil.com.au belly of a red-necked wallaby or wombat The Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife is a captivating sight – and one that Service www.parks.tas.gov. should fortunately be around for the au/?base=387 foreseeable future.

THE DEVILS PROTECT TASMANIA FROM INVASIVE SPECIES, WHICH HAS ALLOWED SMALLER, RARER MARSUPIALS TO FLOURISH.

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Sawfly caterpillars behave in unison. Here, alarmed at a predator, they rear up their hind ends to create more movement and the impression of greater size. Leaf chewings, edge-nibbles, cuts or even bare stalks are good signs of invertebrate activity.

P H OTO STO R Y

Miracles at your feet These magical images reveal a world of invertebrates that are incredibly accessible but all too often ignored. It’s time to get down on your hands and knees to discover these astonishingly diverse creatures for yourself, says entomologist Richard Jones.

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P H OTO STO R Y

A

ccording to the stereotype, wildlife photographers spend their working life in exotic habitats, stoically waiting for a glimpse of an elusive species. Leon Baas, however, trains his lens on a very different world. It’s one with a seemingly infinite array of subjects that’s uniquely accessible but unseen by the majority of people. “There are more than 900,000 known species of insect in the world,” says Leon. “There are more insects and bugs in a square mile of rural land than there are human beings on the entire planet. It’s a hidden world that most people are oblivious to, but it’s there for anyone to discover.” To start to explore the world of the invertebrate you need to take a different approach to watching wildlife, says entomologist Richard Jones. “You have to look down, part the grass, start to focus on a small patch of tree bark or concentrate on just a single square metre,” says Richard. “The world of the insect is ruthless and the threat of being eaten is round every corner, so they spend most of their time well hidden. That means that you need to look carefully. But no matter where you are, invertebrates are incredibly accessible. Your garden is the obvious place to start – just turn over a log or look in the compost – but my favourite areas are urban brownfield sites, where derelict walls, rusting cars and chalk pits all become rich ecosystems. Get down on your knees for a fingertip search to discover a very real safari full of predators, recyclers and parasites.” And you don’t require expensive equipment. “A simple hand lens is all you need to see the body structure and unique adaptations on each species,” says Richard. It can easily turn into an obsession. “I got interested in insects as a child and I’m still learning,” says Leon. “It’s a magical world full of incredible creatures, high drama and fascinating behaviour that you might be the first to discover. It’s what compels me to keep exploring.”

PHOTOS BY LEON BAAS Leon creates his own lenses and uses an innovative approach to flash. “I try to enlarge the drama of the scene,” he says. “A bee on a flower demands sweet colours and fine detail, while a praying mantis requires the drama and atmosphere you get with low lighting.” www.bb-fotografie.nl

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This yellow meadow ant is trying to find its way to dry ground. Though they nest in soil, ants stream up stems and leaves in search of nectar, sap oozing from leaf cuts or aphids. A successful discovery results in a long line of ants sharing the prize.

LEFT The loud powertool sound of this great green bushcricket doesn’t mean it’s easy to find. But it’s active day and night, feeding on flies, caterpillars and larvae. Get down low on your hands and knees and look for its silhouette. FAR LEFT A grassbug’s long legs allow it to run very fast, but a lot of insects spend their time being still. Movement attracts attention from predators, and long grass is a good place to look for these bugs.

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Vagrant darter at sunrise. The cool temperature makes early morning and late evening the best times to get close to many usually skittish insects. Check tree trunks catching the slanting rays of the low sun, or flowers, leaves and stems slightly sheltered and out of any wind. 46

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PHOTO STO RY

ABOVE Green-veined white butterfly: at the micro scale colour is not just about brightness, it is about contrast, tone and disruption of any obvious body outline. Only by getting close will you be able to see past the shading and concealing mottles that allow insects to remain so secretive. RIGHT Most invertebrates have poor eyesight, but the giant eyes of this jumping spider can accurately size up prey, before it makes a leap many times its own body length. When bug-watching, move slowly, and do not allow your shadow to fall on the beast.

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ABOVE So many insects, like this bumblebee, visit flowers for pollen and nectar that they are obvious places to look. Wild flowers often exert a stronger attraction than large, showy garden cultivars, bred only for petal size at the loss of nectar and pollen. RIGHT Interlinking ecologies mean that where you find one insect, you’re likely to find others. Here this ant and ladybird are both attracted by aphids. The ladybird eats them but the ant will act as a defender, feeding on the liquid that they exude.

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PHOTO STO RY

+ FIND OUT MORE You can find galleries of Leon’s work on our website along with images from a host of other professional wildlife photographers: www.discoverwildlife.com

ABOVE Flowers also make good launch pads. This green shield bug may well have been feeding on the speedwell, but its pose suggests that it is now basking in the sun in readiness for flight. When looking for invertebrates, check the unopened buds of flowers as well as expanded petals. RIGHT This water scorpion has caught a pond-skater in its deadly raptorial front legs. It’s easier to get close to watch insects when they are occupied sunbathing, mating or eating. Their behaviour is often more startling than their appearance.

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YOUR PHOTOS Every month hundreds of readers upload their wildlife photography to our website at www. discoverwildlife.com. We get outstanding images from around the world, and showcase them in our online galleries and in the magazine. Why not get involved? Here are some great examples...

See and share wildlife photos at www.discoverwildlife.com

CLASH OF THE TITANS I was sitting in a hide in Worcestershire watching adult little owls gather mealworms for their chicks when a great spotted woodpecker decided to take advantage of a free meal. A face-off between the two species ensued on the post until the woodpecker backed down. Nick Holland, the Cotswolds

PERFECT TIMING

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY While on a wildlife trek in Mudumalai National Park, India, I spotted an Indian chameleon. It’s very difficult to find this species, especially in the Tamil Nadu region, so I seized the opportunity to photograph the well-camouflaged lizard. Sadique Ali, Kerala, India

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I took this photo of a pair of white-tailed deer in May near Sandy Lake in Northern Saskatchewan, Canada. It was early in the morning and the pair were busy eating. I was delighted when they lifted their heads at exactly the same time, allowing me to take this great picture. Duane Larson, Prince Albert, Canada

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HOLIDAY HERMIT I was lucky enough to visit the Maldives last year, where a highlight of the trip was seeing hundreds of hermit crabs on a beach on Fonimagoodhoo Island each evening. I photographed this one when it came out of its shell – I was delighted to bring home a reminder of the crustaceans I saw. Jack Daniels, Worcestershire

RED FOX CUB by Mark Caunt

SUNSET SUBJECT

BLUE POLYRHACHIS ANT by Paul Bertner

During an evening game drive along the Cuando River, Botswana, we found a leopard resting on a tree branch in the shadows. After I waited 20 minutes, one of the last rays of sunlight illuminated the head of this beautiful creature. It gave me the opportunity to take this photo. Maurizio Falcioni, Piacenza, Italy

MALLARD SHOWING OFF by Andrew Ward

SPOTTED BEETLE

COWSLIPS by Melvin Mallard Enter our monthly online photographic contest at www.discoverwildlife.com/ your-photos/photo-contest

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I was supervising my students during an invertebrate survey in a churchyard in Plumpton when I saw this ladybird on a sycamore tree. Using my smartphone I took this photo, which also captured the leaves starting to change colour. Greg Cross, East Sussex

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SURFER’S PARADISE I captured this photo of a gentoo penguin arriving at East Coast Beach, New Island, the Falkland Islands, last year. I waited over three hours to get a shot of an individual because they tend to emerge from the sea in groups. The image makes the seabird look as if it’s walking on water. Shanu Subra, London

PARK PICNIC In Skansen Park, Sweden, many of the squirrels and birds are unafraid of humans and approach people in search of food. During a walk there my friend put nuts in his hand and a red squirrel clambered up onto his wrist to feed. To our surprise this great tit soon joined in the feast. I think my photo shows that people and wildlife can live in harmony. Andrea Schmidt, Germany

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SERENE ENCOUNTER I’d been told that getting close to mountain gorillas would be a very special experience. After trekking for over two hours during a visit to Rwanda I located the Amahoro troop. The word means peace, as epitomised in the calm nature of the silverback I had the fortune of photographing. Janice Tipping, West Sussex

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BITTERN IN THE REEDS by Ann Chapman

LAKESIDE LUCK While on holiday in the Lake District, I made a visit to Elter Water. I was photographing the landscape when this lovely mute swan appeared. Fortunately it was a calm day and the lake’s water was flat, so I was able to capture the reflection of the waterbird as it swam without any ripples on the surface distorting the photo. Leigh Gregory, Swindon

SUCKLING ELEPHANT by Simon Allen

MATING SHIELDBUGS by Amanda

NOSE TO NOSE I took this image of two cute Indian fox cubs near a forested area of Gujarat, India. The youngsters were busy playing as I hid behind a tree to photograph them. The species prefers semi-arid habitats where it is easy to hunt and dig dens. Somil Makadia, Lalpur, India

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FOUR�SPOTTED CHASER by Keith Allen Enter our monthly online photographic contest at www.discoverwildlife.com/ your-photos/photo-contest

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THE BEST OF OUR RECENT ONLINE CONTEST PICS

SIGNATURE SPIDER by Haresh Patel

NESTING BLUE TIT by Malc Dawson

ICY SHAKE

LION�TAILED MACAQUE by Shankar Ganesh

In winter musk ox move to higher ground because strong winds prevent the accumulation of deep snow, making foraging easier. I came across a small herd while hiking in Norway’s Dovrefjell–Sunndalsfjella National Park. I took this picture when one of the stocky bovids stretched and shook off the snow. Fredrik Stige, Norway

BULLFINCH BLOSSOM by Gary Cox Enter our monthly online photographic contest at www.discoverwildlife.com/ your-photos/photo-contest

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YOUR PHOTOS BUSH CRICKET ON THE MENU I was in a rocky mountainous area of Bera, India, when our guide told us there was a leopard nearby. While I was waiting to spot the elusive cat, this pair of jungle babblers caught my eye. Watching them closely I noticed one of the birds had a bush cricket in its beak, which it fed to the other. Amish Parekh, Mumbai, India

TAKEAWAY ZEBRA I took this photo at Ngorongoro Crater during a once-in-alifetime trip to Tanzania. A dozen spotted hyenas gathered around a zebra carcass and started feeding. After half an hour or so, when there was not much food left, a hyena took a back leg in its mouth and started running towards me. The animal gave me just enough time to react and get this photograph. Julio Mieza del Val, Barcelona, Spain

WE WANT YOUR WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHS

CLIFFTOP BEAUTY My wife and I were watching two kestrels at Ramsey Sound on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path when one landed just below us on the cliff. The raptor posed unperturbed between the bluebells, primroses and thrift, which allowed me to take this shot. Mike Watson, Milford Haven

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The BBC Wildlife Magazine website is the place to share your wildlife photography. Every week we showcase the best professional and amateur photography with regular competitions and the chance to see your images appear in our print publication. You can also get expert photographic tips and share advice with other readers. SUBMIT YOUR PHOTOS O For a chance to see your image in an issue of BBC Wildlife, please enter our Your Photos competition at www.discoverwildlife.com/ submit-your-photos

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PHOTOGRAPHER PROFILES BBC Wildlife Magazine has always featured the world’s best wildlife photographers. Here are some you can see in this digital issue… MAC STONE Mac Stone is a conservation photographer who focuses on imperilled wetlands. His images and advocacy help reshape public opinion of swamps and watersheds. His latest project spanned five years, documenting the Everglades and humanity’s relationship with subtropical south Florida. His new book Everglades: America’s Wetland will be published in October 2014. www.macstonephoto.com

WILL BURRARD�LUCAS Will Burrard-Lucas is a professional wildlife photographer who uses innovation to achieve a fresh perspective in his work. This led to his creation of BeetleCam, a remotecontrolled buggy for his digital SLR camera. He photographs wildlife all over the world, but has focused on African species in recent years. www.burrard-lucas.com


PHOTOGRAPHER PROFILES LEON BAAS Leon Baas is a Dutch nature photographer with a passion for small bugs. He is constantly searching for new ways to photograph insects in their habitat using equipment he has created himself, including a special wide-angle macro lens. During the past few years he has developed a unique style of macro photography and his pictures are published regularly in a range of wildlife and natural-history magazines. www.bb-fotografie.nl

HEATH HOLDEN Heath Holden is a self-taught photojournalist who photographed Tasmanian devils on his native island for this issue. He is well travelled and always looking for a new adventure that allows him to work on a specific photographic project. “I really love to shoot a wide range of work from natural-history assignments through to action sports, editorial and commercials,” says Heath. www.heathholdenphotography.com

Head to our website to… X See more professional wildlife galleries X Get photographic advice from experts X Enter our wildlife photography competitions

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PREDATORS’ PARADISE from the

BUSH

The Sardine Run is a truly incredible spectacle, attracting dolphins, whales, sharks – and divers.

NAME

Tony Baskeyfield

PROFESSION

L O C AT I O N

Photographer

South Africa

Shark attack: but hopefully it’s the sardines the dusky is interested in.

E

Both photos by Tony Baskeyfield

very year, between May and July, the greatest migration on Earth takes place off South Africa’s eastern coast. Billions of sardines leave their cold-water home in South Africa’s temperate seas and travel north into subtropical waters. Following the shoals are dolphins, game fish, sharks and birds, and this super-army corrals them into catchable bait balls, where a feeding frenzy takes place. And in pursuit of the predators are TV crews, divers and photographers who are all hoping for the thrill of a lifetime – and last year, I was one of them. We set off from East London, on South Africa’s Eastern Cape, and quickly spotted some killer whales, which we followed for about 30 minutes. But the orcas weren’t after sardines, so we left them in search of the real thing. After a few false starts, a couple of days later we found a giant pod of more than 1,000 dolphins and then a large flock of cape gannets diving into the water. Sharks were cruising close by, their fins breaking the surface. This was it – the Sardine Run. MAKING A SPLASH We changed into our diving gear and dropped into the water. Once submerged, I heard the thuds of gannets hitting the surface and watched their bubble trails as they plunged to a depth of about 5m to catch fish. Though they were swerving to avoid me, I was still hit on the head and hand in quick succession. This was starting to become unpleasant. Next, a dusky shark moved in. It turned on its side, opened its mouth and grabbed a swath of sardines. After it had finished, all that was left were thousands of shimmering scales. We had to be careful – the species is known for harassing divers. One swam straight into me and bumped my camera, and while I whooped with excitement, visibility was less than 4m. I didn’t want a shark to mistake me for a sardine shoal and sink its teeth in. One dusky, in particular, was getting frustrated. It started biting at another diver’s fins and got tangled up in his camera lanyard. No one was hurt, but we definitely got the message. It wasn’t just sharks that we had to be

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“THE HUMPBACK SWEPT PAST, AND I HAD TO DUCK TO AVOID BEING HIT BY ITS TAIL.”

wary of. These sardine gatherings attract whales, too, with Bryde’s whales the most likely visitors. They don’t carry the menace of a shark, but their mouths are big enough to swallow a diver whole. And I wasn’t keen on becoming a 21st-century Jonah. No whales showed up that afternoon, but a few days later we came across a group of humpbacks and soon they were everywhere. After assessing the situation, we got into the water. But despite the care we were taking, I still had a near miss. Out of nowhere I saw a bulge on the surface and felt the huge pressure wave in front of an approaching whale. The animal swept past, and I had to duck my head to avoid being hit by its tail. Some humpbacks had groups of common dolphins riding these pressure waves and getting a free lift. Another one came incredibly close to us, and a different group of divers narrowly avoided being swatted by its huge fluke. Getting into the water when a feeding frenzy is underway is the most exciting and terrifying thing I’ve ever done. So I’ll definitely be going again.

Now, where did those fish go?

Do you have a tale that you would like to share? If so, please email a synopsis of your idea to james.fair@immediate.co.uk

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So what do you think of the magazine? Do you like certain articles, but not others? Do any of the above spreads interest you? Most importantly, would you like to see another issue? If you would then we need to hear from you! We’ve set up a short survey online and would love it if you could spare a few minutes to take part, and let us know the kind of content you’d like to see in our next issue. Then, when it’s ready, I’ll email you to make sure you’re the first to know about it. You can also email us directly if you want to ask a question or share your thoughts. I can’t wait to hear from you! Matt Swaine Editor matt.swaine@immediate.co.uk

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