Rhinos are among the most majestic creatures on the planet, and WWF is working to protect them every day. Learn more about WWF’s efforts to restore rhino populations in Africa and Asia. 02 / TRACKING BIG CATS 06 / A BLARING BIRDCALL
P R E S I D E N T’S L E T T E R
“I’ve come to cherish conservation solutions that consider the entirety of a place—and that unleash the political, cultural, and financial might of communities, nations, and markets.”
When I first joined The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts, in 1989, nearly every week I’d make the long drive from Boston to the Berkshires. I’d arrive in a beautiful watershed called Schenob Brook—a small but precious waterway, with rare plants and animals and a wonderful community of people. The scientists I joined there had maps showing where land titles overlapped limy fens. Together, we made plans to secure the mapped properties one by one. Our first land deal in Schenob was just 23 acres, but it was a vital part of a plan to keep the whole intact and functioning.
a place—and that unleash the political, cultural, and financial might of communities, nations, and markets. This kind of work rests on learning and partnerships. When I consider the history of conservation, some examples come to mind. I think of the 32 water funds that The Nature Conservancy created across Latin America to protect forested watersheds that provide drinking water for 50 million people. I think of the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund developed by Conservation International to build local capacity in 25 biodiversity hotspots around the world.
Decades later, we know nature and humanity are more intertwined, and more at risk, than we ever imagined. With the march of climate change, the accelerating loss of nature, and the erosion of a stable climate, the security of the world is in jeopardy. Over time, I’ve come to cherish conservation solutions that consider the entirety of
I think of the U.S Beyond Coal campaign that the Sierra Club and Bloomberg built together, which has accelerated the retirement of 530 coal-fired power plants in the United States. I also think of certification programs, such as the Forest Stewardship Council, and science-based targets that WWF has developed with partners
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Conservation of the Whole
EDITORIAL senior editor Alice Taylor editor, digital edition Alison Henry web producers Victoria Grimme, Patrick Walsh, Isabelle Willson, Ellie Yanagisawa contributing editors Tania Curry, Teresa Duran, Molly M. Ginty, Jennifer Hanna, Terry Macko, Maura McCarthy, Brie Wilson contributing writers Ali Evarts, Danielle Furlich, Ella Kraft, Tiffany R. Pennamon, Kristen Pope, Sara Curnow Wilson ART art direction and design Page 33 Studio consulting art director Sharon Roberts contributing photo editor Jennifer Anna PRODUCTION production manager Mick Jones volume 9, number 4 (ISSN 2330-3077) World Wildlife is published quarterly by World Wildlife Fund, 1250 24th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037. Annual membership dues begin at $15. Nonprofit postage paid at Washington, DC, and additional mailing offices. learn more Visit worldwildlife.org to learn more about World Wildlife Fund and what you can do to help. contact us firstname.lastname@example.org © 2021 wwf. all rights reserved by world wildlife fund, inc. wwf® and ©1986 panda symbol are owned by wwf. all rights reserved.
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WWF’s mission is to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth. WWF’s vision is to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature. president & ceo Carter Roberts editorial director Alex MacLennan publications director Sarah Forrest publications editor Ananya Bhattacharyya editor Erin Waite editorial intern Madeleine Janz
to drive sustainable production of major commodities. Freshest in my mind is Project Finance for Permanence (PFP), an approach to securing permanent funding for conservation areas. These efforts identify gaps in financial support for a country’s or region’s protected and conserved areas and then create a plan to finance those national systems of parks and Indigenous reserves in perpetuity. So far, the PFP model has protected nearly 100 million hectares in Costa Rica, Bhutan, Peru, Colombia, the Brazilian Amazon, and Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest. Now we’re working with leading foundations, The Nature Conservancy, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and members of the Walton family to do more. All of these efforts combine unique skills and partnerships that can contribute to keeping natural places intact. Getting to that goal requires “systems-level thinking”—the ability to learn in a multidisciplinary way and connect the dots between relevant sectors. Whether the place is a jewel of a watershed in the Berkshires or a vast ecosystem like the Amazon, keeping it whole is fundamental to a stable climate and the future of life on Earth.
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U P D A T E
S H E Y P H O K S U N D O N A T I O N A L P A R K :: N E P A L
ANSWERS UNLEASHED GPS collars shed new light on shy snow leopards In May 2021, a group of WWF scientists, national park staff, veterinarians, and 17 citizen scientists set out on an expedition in the Himalayas. They were hoping to collar snow leopards—solitary big cats that inhabit the region’s steep high-mountain peaks, where temperatures can easily plummet to below freezing. After four days, the group successfully located, sedated, and collared two male leopards. The GPS collars, which eventually fall off, will periodically transmit the felines’ locations, giving biologists a detailed view of their behavior and movements through their habitat. In the past century, less than 23% of the species’ range in Nepal has been studied. But with collaring, researchers can start to bridge that gap, collecting data that will help them develop better snow leopard conservation strategies and protect communities living in the animals’ territory.
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© DANIEL CROUS/AWL-IMAGES.COM
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Discover Botswana Safaris. As the setting sun paints the sky in orange and red, cool air descends on the floodplains of the Okavango Delta. The flickering campfire at your comfortable bush camp radiates warmth as you spend the evening reminiscing about spotting wildlife on game drives across Botswana’s desert and delta. The watery maze of meandering channels is a magical oasis blessed with some of Africa’s most exceptional wildlife. Travel to this and other amazing natural places around the world and encounter rare and stunning species—all while supporting WWF’s global conservation efforts. Other southern African safari adventures include Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.
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BY THE NUMBERS
Online behavior trends greener
A global “eco-wakening” is underway. When researchers at The Economist Intelligence Unit examined data from 54 countries covering 80% of the world’s population, they found a striking rise in Twitter posts, Google searches, and media reports related to biodiversity and nature loss over the period 2016–20. Google searches alone increased by 16%. That online engagement appears to be driving realworld action: Since 2016, more than 159 million people have signed online petitions supporting biodiversity campaigns, and numerous governments have proposed more forceful policies to protect nature. Concern for nature has measurably shifted consumer behavior, too. Researchers found a 71% increase in searches for sustainable goods, with the rise especially marked in developed nations. 4
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Percentage rise in the popularity of Google searches by US consumers for sustainable products between 2016 and 2020
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Companies are responding: Among manufacturers of natural pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, the number of companies committed to practices that protect
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biodiversity grew 45%. And in the fashion sector, 65% of businesses surveyed have committed to sourcing sustainably produced raw materials.
D I S C O V E R
Y O S E M I T E N AT I O N A L P A R K :: C A L I F O R N I A , U S A
THE ART OF NATURE Adventure and inspiration in the Sierra Nevadas I’m blessed to know Yosemite National Park well. I spent over a decade as a ranger naturalist in this park, introducing visitors to its many wonders: its high-country meadows, giant sequoia trees, meandering rivers, and Miwok and Paiute cultures. During the summer, I led hikes in Tuolumne Meadows, the gateway to the park’s alpine lakes and spectacular 13,000-foot peaks. In the winter, I lived in Yosemite Valley, surrounded by towering granite cliffs—including El Capitan—and six of North America’s tallest waterfalls. I always felt inspired and restored by this magical place. Visitors, too, are often spellbound by their experiences here. It’s no wonder Yosemite was the first tract of wild land to be set aside for future generations—or that today it continues to remind us of the importance of protecting our natural lands. — Jim Sano
Travel with WWF to Yosemite National Park. Learn more at wwf.travel/ExploreYosemite2021. © JOUAN RIUS/NATUREPL.COM
ASTONISHING ACOUSTICS The white bellbird, native to the Amazon rain forest, has the loudest recorded call of any bird: 125 decibels, or roughly as loud as a rock concert. It uses this call not for longdistance communication or to intimidate predators but to woo potential mates. This pigeon-sized bird is no Frank Sinatra, though. Its hair-raising song sounds more like an emergency alarm than a lover’s warble. (Trust us: Look it up.) 4
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?
Unlike males, females don’t have wattles or a mating call. In fact, they barely make any noise at all.
WHITE BELLBIRD Procnias albus
RANGE Northeast South America, including Brazil, Venezuela, and the Guianas
1 MOUTH Adapted to eat fruit, the bird’s very wide mouth opens broadly when it sings.
SIZE About 11" long
3 ABDOMINALS AND RIBS Unusually strong core muscles may be the key to the bird’s unique vocal prowess.
4 PLUMAGE Adult males are covered with bright white feathers, while the females sport olive green and yellow plumage.
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2 WATTLE A dark gray, fleshy spike with small, white feathers hangs from the male’s forehead.
FEMALE © L ARS PETERSSON/MACAUL AY LIBRARY AT THE CORNELL L AB OF ORNITHOLOGY (ML206032151); MALE © ANSELMO D’AFFONSECA/MACAUL AY LIBRARY AT THE CORNELL L AB OF ORNITHOLOGY (ML204137651)
Researchers have found that male white bellbirds sing loudest around females, likely in attempts to attract a partner. When a female perches nearby, the male begins its song, then pivots to face her head-on and belts his most ear-splitting note. Females may favor the loudest males.
upper threshold of pain 140 dB jet plane takeoff
© DAVID PATTYN/NATUREPL.COM
SECURITY FOR YOU AND FOR WILDLIFE
t ypical noise levels
ng, sp eech
When you establish a charitable gift annuity with WWF, you can provide yourself or someone you designate with dependable income for life. Best of all, your gift will help guarantee a more secure future for wildlife and their habitats around the world.
Our Personal Estate Planning Kit is available online at no charge. Download your free copy at wwf.planmylegacy.org/kit to begin preparing your own estate plan. For more information, please contact the Gift Planning Team at 888.993.9455 | email@example.com or visit us at wwf.planmylegacy.org
NOISE LEVEL CHART (in decibels)
The information provided above is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or tax advice. Please consult an attorney or tax advisor before making a charitable gift.
Stone Age paintings of fighting rhinos, estimated to have been painted 30,000 to 32,900 years ago, depicted on a wall of Chauvet Cave in France. 8
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CAVE PAINTING © JAVIER TRUEBA/MSF/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY; RHINOS AT SUNRISE © SEAN CRANE/MINDEN PICTURES
A N C I E N T
S U R V I V O R S Ensuring a future for one of the world’s oldest mammals Story by sandy ong
Illustrations by lauren tamaki
IN AUGUST 2016, BAS HUIJBREGTS, THEN THE N E W LY A P P O I N T E D M A N A G E R ( A N D N O W T H E D I R E C TO R ) O F A F R I C A N S P E C I E S CO N S E RVAT I O N A T W W F, R E C E I V E D A N U N E X P E C T E D INVITATION FROM THE CHIEF WARDEN O F N A M I B I A’ S E T O S H A N AT I O N A L PA R K . Every year, the warden explained, Namibia’s government and Etosha park undertake a weeks-long operation to count the park’s rhinos. The count is done by air, and the animals are marked with paint to help park managers keep track of the ones that have been counted. Would Huijbregts like to join? A few days later, he found himself in a helicopter, surveying a small number of black rhinos below. The task at hand: to mark each rhino with a P A I N T B A L L S P L A S H . “It was the most amazing experience I’ve had with rhinos,” recalls Huijbregts with a laugh. “It was sort of a boy’s dream, a cowboy thing to do.” Just 20 years earlier, encountering a black rhino was incredibly rare—fewer than 2,500 individuals remained in eastern and southern Africa. Due to intense poaching, 96% of the population was wiped out between 1970 and 1990. But today, thanks to concerted conservation efforts, black rhino numbers have more than doubled. Namibia is home to the largest black rhino population, with Etosha being “the biggest stronghold in the country,” says Huijbregts. “They are a huge success story for the world.” In recent years, two other rhino species have seen a similar rise in population numbers. White rhinos are now thriving in parts of southern Africa, and greater one-horned rhinos have rebounded in Nepal and India. But black rhinos in Africa and Sumatran and Javan rhinos in Asia are still critically endangered. Today, an estimated 27,000 rhinos remain in the wild, down from the 500,000 or so that existed at the turn of the last century. This decimation is linked to demand for their horn, which is prized by high-paying customers for its unsubstantiated medicinal properties. “The ongoing illegal wildlife trade is an acute threat,” says Huijbregts. That’s why WWF, together with governments, communities, and other partners, is working hard to safeguard the remaining rhinos, expand their populations, and protect their habitats. 10 WORLD WILDLIFE MAGAZINE
Two BLACK RHINOCEROS quench their thirst at a water hole in Etosha National Park in Namibia.
© PETE OXFORD/NATUREPL.COM
JOINING HANDS Seven years ago, as wildlife crime surged in Namibia, WWF brought together key civil society and donor partners to halt poaching and wildlife trafficking. That process led to a “whole-of-government” approach that encompasses a range of strategies: community participation, ranger patrols, investigations, prosecution, and policy. And it’s working: One of the Namibian government’s major successes has been its interception of poachers before animals are harmed and its ability to secure meaningful sentences for higher-level criminals. “That happens almost 12 WORLD WILDLIFE MAGAZINE
nowhere else in the world,” says Huijbregts. In 2020, 46 preemptive arrests were made during seven incidents, representing 28% of all rhino trafficking cases in the country. Key to this proactive intervention is the strong sense of pride and responsibility felt by local communities in the northwest of the country, home to the black rhino. “Africa’s largest free-roaming rhino population lives on communal lands in Namibia,” says Huijbregts. “These are not formally protected areas. Local communities protect the wildlife on their lands; They are doing an amazing job for rhinos.”
RHINO-SAVING SOLUTIONS Discover a few ways WWF and partners are working to conserve rhinos
CREATING SPACES SAFE FROM FLOODS
Monsoon floods are a perennial reality in many parts of Asia, and neither people nor rhinos have been spared. WWF has been working to build earthen mounds as flood refuges for rhinos and other wildlife in India since the 1990s. And in 2018, after heavy monsoon rains struck Nepal’s Chitwan National Park, washing 11 GREATER ONE-HORNED RHINOS across the border into India, WWF-Nepal began testing a pilot structure, a six-foot-high mound made of compacted soil, to provide Chitwan’s wildlife a refuge in times of heavy flooding.
COMMUNITIES AS CUSTODIANS Etosha and other national parks comprise only 17% of the country’s total land area. The rhinos outside such parks reside on private and communal lands, including communal conservancies where community leadership is at the heart of WWF’s approach. Conservancies provide animals a safe haven in large part because, under the conservancy model, communities receive revenue from activities such as wildlife-related tourism on their lands. There are 86 communal conservancies in Namibia today, and WWF has played an instrumental role in establishing all of them. Many conservancies have guest lodges, and some offer unique ecotourism experiences, including walking rhino safaris. These activities benefit local people who share their lands with rhinos, says Robin Naidoo, WWF’s lead wildlife scientist. “When local communities are favorably disposed to having rhinos on their lands,” he says, “they act as a first line of defense against poaching. They are the most important actors in supporting government efforts to protect rhinos and other wildlife.” Communities conduct regular patrols to count rhinos and watch for suspicious activity. WWF has provided training, camping gear, and monitoring equipment to local rhino custodians. The results speak for themselves: Poaching in communal conservancies fell by over 80% between 2011 and 2017, dropping to zero before the pandemic hit. ROOM TO MOVE Poaching, however, isn’t the only threat rhinos face. Black rhinos require vast areas to roam. “Rhinos breed better when they are at lower densities,” says Barney Long, the senior director of conservation strategies at Re:wild, a WWF partner. “There are more resources per individual rhino. There’s less competition between males. Females can be more focused on breeding rather than finding food.” To give the animals more space, WWF has helped translocate rhinos to new areas— capturing wild rhinos and moving them to other parts of their historic range. The Namibian government, together with WWF and other partners, has been translocating 13
black rhinos for three decades. And since 2003, the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project (BRREP) in South Africa has successfully released 270 rhinos, establishing 13 new populations within the country and in Liwonde National Park in Malawi. At least 13 calves were born in 2020 across BRREP project sites in South Africa and Malawi. Translocation is helping Asia’s rhinos, too. Nilanga Jayasinghe, manager of Asian species conservation and the lead on greater one-horned rhino work for WWF-US, participated in a translocation at Nepal’s Chitwan National Park in 2015. She remembers the operation, which adhered to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) translocation and reintroduction guidelines, vividly: The team spent hours on elephant-back scouring the tall grass. When they found a rhino, about 10 elephants encircled it while a technician scrambled up a nearby tree to dart it with a tranquilizer. Then the team moved in quickly, fitting the rhino with a GPS radio collar and drawing blood and other samples before using a wooden sleigh to load it onto a waiting truck. Once in a traveling crate, the animal was given an antidote to awaken it before being driven overnight. “It was a very intense operation,” says Jayasinghe. India conducts similar relocations, and the two countries collaborate closely to manage their rhinos for the good of a population that spans the border. A H E A LT H Y H A B I TAT Changes to and loss of rhino habitat are big problems as well. Increasingly, land favored by rhinos is shrinking or fragmented by human activity. Plus, rhinos and other wild species may face competition from domestic cattle and other livestock. This can lead to threats from even natural processes. For example, greater one-horned rhinos, which are confined to a handful of protected areas in India and Nepal, face two persistent threats: The natural progression of grassland to forest reduces space for rhinos, and many areas are being overrun by invasive species. “Active management,” says Jayasinghe, “is needed to make sure these landscapes remain healthy for the rhino populations long term.” A WORLD FOR BOTH Of course, rhino conservation wouldn’t be possible without help from those who live in the buffer zones surrounding the national parks, says Shiv Raj Bhatta, conservation program director at WWF-Nepal: “For years, WWF has supported local communities in their aspiration to be rightful custodians and primary stakeholders in biodiversity-related local development.” Thirty-year-old Kewal Chaudhary—the president of a Community Based Antipoaching Unit in Lamichaur, a buffer zone 14 WORLD WILDLIFE MAGAZINE
Fewer than 80 SUMATRAN RHINOS exist, scattered in small, nonviable populations. Their fragmentation, the result of forest conversion for agriculture and human settlement, makes breeding difficult. To give the species a chance at survival, the international conservation community has created a partnership to capture wild rhinos in support of the Indonesian government’s Sumatran rhino breeding program. Future offspring will be returned to the wild.
All the world’s remaining 74 JAVAN RHINOS live in Ujung Kulon National Park—a coastal park located close to the still highly active Krakatau volcano in Indonesia. With the threat of an eruption or an ensuing tsunami wiping out the entire population of Javan rhinos, efforts are under way to relocate some individuals. In the meantime, park officials continue to conduct regular antipoaching patrols and ensure the habitat is well maintained.
TOP © SUZI ESZTERHAS/MINDEN PICTURES BOTTOM © STEPHEN B ELCHER PHOTOGRAPHY/WWF
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© TUI DE ROY/NATUREPL.COM
Patrolling protected areas at night can be challenging, and the safety of wildlife and local community members must go hand in hand. Most poachers operate under cover of darkness, and flashlights allow rangers to see only so far. In 2016, WWF partnered with thermal imaging company FLIR Systems to equip Kenyan rangers with special thermal night vision technology. The equipment— monoculars and long-range cameras—allows rangers to spot suspicious activity from up to a mile away. The pilot use of FLIR technology in two of Kenya’s reserves proved so successful—more than 250 poachers have been apprehended, and no BLACK RHINOS were killed during that period— that the tech is now being used in nine other conservation areas.
located in the western part of Chitwan National Park—has helped rhinos for nearly a decade. He and up to 15 other community members patrol the community forests, looking for poachers or signs of suspicious activity. Chaudhary and his team also attend to cases of human-wildlife conflict. Rhinos like to graze in community forests, where people gather firewood and harvest grass. The animals are also fond of visiting sugarcane and wheat fields in the village, inadvertently damaging the crops. Calls usually come in the dead of night, and when they do, “our rapid response team goes to the spot and calms people down,” says Chaudhary. They also help those affected claim compensation from the authorities for crops or property losses caused by wildlife. “People used to get very aggressive, but now many understand that if we save the animals, they will save us too,” he says. HOPEFUL SIGNS While overall rhino numbers are a small fraction of what they once were, concerted conservation strategies are bringing populations back from the brink. Greater one-horned rhinos, for example, were recently downlisted by the IUCN from the status of Endangered to Vulnerable. “Even in the context of the current poaching crisis and human population growth, we are still expanding rhino populations,” says Huijbregts. “So, there is serious cause for hope.” The successes in Namibia and Nepal confirm his take: Rhinos are a resilient species, and given habitat and population management strategies, community management of natural resources, antipoaching efforts, legislation, and joint stakeholder efforts, their numbers can rebound. But the heart of conservation lies with the communities. Listen and learn from them, and involve them in management efforts, and the animals stand more than a fighting chance. Because as Chaudhary often tells his fellow community members, “The world is not only for humans; it is the animals’ home too.” WWF is grateful for the many donors who help to secure, protect, and restore rhino populations around the world, including generous support from Mary Love, Kenneth Adams & Margie Morton, two anonymous donors, Dr. Scholl Foundation, and The Remington Foundation, Inc. 17
D I S P A T C H
C H E B E A G U E I S L A N D :: M A I N E , U S A
SEAWEED AND SHELLFISH One may be good for the other Bangs Island Mussels farms two seafood products: mussels and kelp. Matt Moretti, a co-owner of the company, has long suspected that growing the two together would benefit both species—and new data is backing his theory. It’s estimated that, globally, seaweed sequesters as much carbon as mangroves, seagrasses, and salt marshes combined. Now, in the waters of Moretti’s farm, Dr. Nichole Price of Bigelow Laboratory is researching how growing seaweed might alleviate ocean acidification and improve shell growth—a win-win for nature and farmers. “We all get jazzed about science,” Price admits. “But when it’s science that has an application toward mitigating climate change, you just get an extra spark.” 18 WORLD WILDLIFE MAGAZINE
©YOON S. BYUN/WWF-US
T H E G A N G A R I V E R :: I N D I A
REPTILE RELEASE A long, toothy snout slowly emerges from a box on the banks of the Ganga River. It is release day for this juvenile gharial. The basin of India’s storied river is home to over 600 million people and a wide range of rare and threatened species, including the critically endangered gharial. A nonaggressive, fish-eating member of the crocodilian family, the gharial is threatened by riverbed farming, sand mining, habitat disturbance and destruction, indiscriminate fishing, and entanglement in fishing nets.
1 © SANJEEV KUMAR YADAV/WWF-INDIA; 2 © AREEB HASHMI/WWF-INDIA; 3 © RAMAVTAR/WWF-INDIA; 4 © WWF-INDIA
1 The Uttar Pradesh
Forest Department (UPFD) and WWF-India surveyed a 100-mile stretch of the Ganga in December 2008 to identify viable habitats for gharial reintroduction, with the aim of reestablishing breeding populations.
2 Since then, 818
juvenile gharials have been released into the river. Growing to 350–550 pounds and over 16 feet long, gharials are the top predator in the food chain and are therefore indicators of a healthy river, says Suresh Babu, director of rivers, wetlands, and water policy at WWF-India.
3 UPFD and WWF-
India staff recapture gharials periodically to assess their health and growth rates, which indicate how well the animals are adjusting to their environment. Experts also measure water quality and monitor the movements and behavior of released gharials.
4 WWF-India works
closely with local stakeholders to conserve rivers and aquatic species. Today, more than 4,000 “friends of the river,” known as mitras, volunteer their time and knowledge to conserve gharials and their river habitat.
C A U G H T
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K A L A H A R I D E S E R T :: S O U T H A F R I C A
DESERT ANTICS For young lions, sandy dunes provide a perfect playground Last January, my wife and I embarked on our first trip in more than a year. We’ve been leading photography tours to the Kalahari since 2010, and I couldn’t wait to get back into the field again. As we drove through the dusty, expansive landscape, we followed a lion pride’s tracks. Eventually, we came across a group of resting lions. These animals spend up to 22 hours a day asleep; photographing them awake can be challenging. But after a couple of hours, this young lion popped his head over a dune. I shot a series of photos as he playfully jumped around on the rust-colored sand. We stayed for hours watching several mischievous youngsters frolic near their mothers. The ability to capture lions in their natural habitat—hunting, sleeping, and playing—keeps me coming back to this wondrous landscape time and again. — Hannes Lochner
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© ROBIN DARIUS/FELIS
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G A L L E R Y
Sculptures by Courtney Mattison
(opposite) CONFLUENCE (OUR CHANGING SEAS V)
CONFLUENCE (OUR CHANGING SEAS V) COURTESY OF ART IN EMBASSIES, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE PERMANENT COLLECTION FOR U.S. EMBASSY JAKARTA; SURFACE TENSION 2 COURTESY OF COURTNEY MATTISON.
SURFACE TENSION 2
“The beauty of a coral reef is in its diversity; nature is more creative than I could ever be,” says Courtney Mattison, a Los Angeles-based sculptor and ocean advocate. While earning a degree in marine ecology and ceramic sculpture, Mattison began creating intricate, vibrantly hued works depicting coral reefs and the threats they face from climate change. To craft her large-scale wall reliefs, often evocative of swirling hurricanes or coral bleaching events, she uses tools such as paintbrushes and chopsticks, molding fragile underwater ecosystems in hopes of inspiring increased protections for our oceans. “We protect what we care about,” she says. “I want to bring the beauty of coral reefs above the ocean’s surface and make people fall in love.”
Testing water samples for toxins helps researchers like Muriel Reid understand how warming oceans are impacting food resources that tribal citizens rely on.
Mercedes Kashatok and Muriel Reid on stepping up to the challenges of a changing Arctic
What are some of the challenges Alaskan communities face?
AGE Mercedes: 19; Muriel: 20 HOME Mercedes: Anchorage, Alaska Muriel: Sitka, Alaska CAUSE Arctic Youth Ambassadors (AYA) Mercedes Kashatok and Muriel Reid are passionate environmental advocates in their native Alaska. Mercedes recently hosted a panel on climate change at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. Muriel, currently in her first year at the University of Alaska Southeast, works for the Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s environmental lab. AYA was established in 2015 by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the US Department of State, and Alaska Geographic. WWF is a sponsor. 24 WORLD WILDLIFE MAGAZINE
Mercedes: Anchorage has hit record high temperatures in recent summers, which has been detrimental to wildlife and our way of life. Climate change is throwing off entire ecosystems, shaking rural communities that rely on produce and fresh fish. Muriel: In my tribe, the biggest issues revolve around state government policy. With environmental changes occurring, the government isn’t allocating enough resources, including herring, to us. We need a more dominant seat at the table. We’re trying to keep our values and culture alive.
What do you hope to accomplish through AYA?
Muriel: I am interested in storytelling and outreach on climate change and colonization in Alaska. Recently,
Mercedes: I’m hoping I can use my work with AYA and my knowledge about how climate change affects communities to advocate for the homeless. I’m currently working on an article about Alaska youth mental health amid the COVID-19 pandemic and homelessness in Anchorage.
What are your aspirations for the future?
Muriel: Now that I’m an adult, I feel I need to step up and do more to make a difference. And the ability to do more comes from knowing who’s who, government-wise. The more I know about Alaska’s government, the more changes I can make. It’s important to me that my tribe achieves a stronger presence in the government and that more actions are taken relating to climate change. Mercedes: For myself, I hope to continue to be an advocate for Alaskan youth and to be a respected leader in my community. My vision for Alaska— and the country—is that we come together to address the climate crisis. It needs our urgent attention.
IMAGE OF MURIEL REID (TOP) AND SHELLFISH © BETHANY SONSINI GOODRICH, SUSTAINABLE SOUTHEAST PARTNERSHIP
ARCTIC YOUTH AMBASSADORS
I created an art show about just that. I hope this project will further inspire the conversations already occurring in Alaska about these issues.
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1.800.960.0993 PLOT POINTS Meet the winners of an Africa-wide challenge to create innovative opportunities to help communities replace income from tourism lost to COVID–19.
LOVE LETTER After a life-changing snowboarding accident, a young writer gains a deeper appreciation for the mountains she loves.
LEADERBOARD Private equity investor Vignesh Aier knows that investing in the future isn’t just about making money—it’s about making a better future for all.
DATA COLLECTION IMAGE COURTESY OF CLIMATE CROWD PARTNERS; GORILLA © LINDA HOYDIC; WOMAN BEADING © JONATHAN CARAMANUS/ GREEN RENAISSANCE/WWF-UK; MOUNTAINS © CHRISTEN HUMPHREYS/ WWF-US; AIER © ELEANOR SHAKESPEARE/WWF-US
What’s on the cover? It’s an underwater view of an iceberg in East Greenland, where warming seas are accelerating glacial melt— a major contributor to global sea level rise.
WHITE RHINOCEROS Ceratotherium simum The white rhino is the largest of the five living rhinoceros species. Scientists believe these animals are invaluable to eastern and southern Africa’s savannas: Their ability to graze large swaths of grasslands has helped to shape and maintain healthy ecosystems since ancient times. In total, only an estimated 27,000 rhinos remain in the wild. Poaching has reduced one rhino subspecies, the northern white rhino, to a population of just two—a decline that’s provided valuable lessons for conservationists now working to ensure the survival of the southern white rhino and other rhino species. Inside this issue, meet some of the community members and WWF scientists who are bringing back rhinos across Asia and Africa.
ICEBERG © FRANCO BANFI/NATUREPL.COM WHITE RHINO © ANDREW ZUCKERMAN