Snares I found this collection of snares in our monkey office on my last trip to Kenya. The tiny loops at the end of the string are fastened to a bent tree branch and secured to the ground with a sharpened stick. As the monkeys (or any other animal for that matter) forage through the undergrowth, they inadvertently put their hand or foot through the loop on the ground. This movement causes the string to move, the branch to straighten, and the loop to tighten around whichever unlucky limb is inside the loop. Occasionally the monkeys pull the stick from the ground in their attempt to free themselves and end up with the snare still tied around their wrist. Repeated pulling and biting usually tightens the loop even more. If not removed, the monkeys’ hand eventually falls off, as circulation and blood flow is restricted over a period of several months. Successful snaring has likely been the fate of many study group monkeys whom have disappeared over the last several years. That said, we’ve managed to successfully remove snares from several individuals and re-release them back into their groups.
Man and Camel This shot was taken in 1996 at a Tuareg wedding in Niger. The leader of our group was the American wife of a notable chief in the area north of Agadez. As a result, we were invited to a Tuareg wedding nearby (by nearby I mean driving off road for a couple of hours into an endless expanse of sand). There were no roads and we stopped every so often when we saw someone walking in the desert to ask directions. As we approached the wedding, the scene was surreal – camels in procession lines loomed above the car. A buzz of activity surrounded the bride, and singing and dancing followed. The Tuareg men seemed friendly and open to having their photos taken, however the women typically shied away from the camera. I think this man may have been smiling underneath his dark blue cheche.
Chandy Chowk I took this shot of a passing wedding party when I was standing in a doorway near Chandy Chowk in New Delhi in 2012. Ironically, my husband and I we were in Delhi to attend a wedding, but this street wedding surprised us as we were walking through the crowded market area. Shortly after this shot was taken the groom emerged on a white horse studded with gems, sparkles, and a rainbow of color. He then continued with his procession through a dark street lit with fantastic hanging chandeliers.
Jantar Mantar, New Dehli My husband is a planetarian and we visited several astrological parks, or Jantar Mantars as they are called, while in India in 2012. There are five Jantar Mantars in the country, and they look like they are right out of a De Chirico painting. This shot was taken at the New Delhi Jantar Mantar near sunset. I knew there was one pigeon in the shot, however I had no idea there were five until I looked at the photos on my laptop later that week.
Betsy This is Betsy. Betsy is an orphan, and the first hand reared Angolan black and white colobus monkey in history. Colobus habitat is fragmented throughout their range on Kenya’s south coast. While foraging for food the monkeys often have to cross the busy main road leading to the hotels. Consequently, there are frequent fatalities and injuries as taxis and matatus race back and forth picking up and delivering tourists.Betsy currently lives at the Colobus Trust whom specializes in rehabilitating, re-releasing, and protecting this endangered species, as well as other monkeys living in the area. One of Colobus Trust’s main conservation initiatives is constructing bridges across the main road called Colobridges, which enable monkeys to cross the road safely while searching for food.
Cemetery New Orleans (St Louis Cemetery No#1) I liked this scene so much that I photographed it once with my phone, then returned a year later to photograph it again with my DSLR. This is one of my favorite cemeteries in New Orleans, particularly right after sunset.
Bioko Island I was with a group conducting a primate census on Bioko Island in Equatorial Guinea when I took this shot. Annual censuses of primate (and other mammal) populations have proven invaluable to researchers monitoring the bush meat trade. Hunting for bush meat has taken its toll on primate populations in the area, as the number of individuals encountered on census is slowly declining. Unsuccessful snaring can also be a problem here, as we spotted a large adult male drill monkey limping along one of the streams with a snare still attached to his leg. The census is conducted on a network of trails, which lead up to, and inside of an extinct caldera. During the two-week expedition we gradually made our ascent, camping and conducting the census at various points along the way. Not only did the plants get bigger as we neared the caldera, but the insects did as well. As I passed ferns that dwarfed my entire body, I imagined I was walking around in the movie Jurassic Park.
Hula Hoop Girl This was taken last year at my annual hula-hoop retreat near Galveston, TX. This particular shot was taken during one of our nightly LED hoop jams on the beach. The girl in this photo was spinning her hoop around her right wrist which, when photographed with a long exposure from the opposite side, makes it look as though she is standing in front of a colorful circle of light. Each LED hoop has different pattern and color sequences, resulting in prolific eye candy when photographed at night.
Monk in Angkor Wat While visiting Cambodia last year I spotted this monk touring the temples of Angkor Wat. He was with two other monks, all equipped with cameras and cell phones. I unsuccessfully attempted to photograph the three monks several hours prior to getting this shot, but other tourists kept getting in the way. To my surprise, later in the day when I was alone and my mind had moved on to other things, the monks reappeared and this time the four of us were alone in the temple complex. Not only did this monk allow me to photograph him, but the three of them posed for several other shots. With an entire city of temples to choose from, that we both ended up alone in this one was pretty astonishing.
Swapo Swapo is the current dominant male of the Sykes monkey troop I’ve monitored since 2006. The former dominant male Putin, was replaced by Swapo in 2010. Swapo’s group consists of himself, his kids, and several adult females. The males usually spend their time foraging somewhat apart from the rest of the group, with the exception of mating and territorial encounters. Swapo’s group, or K group as we call it, is habituated to people so the monkeys are used to people following them at a distance. On this particular day Swapo let me get unusually close to photograph him.
Juvenile Monkey I followed this large juvenile male Sykes monkey into a tangle of trees, leaves, and vines to get this shot last spring. The area where the monkeys live – Gede Ruins National Monument – is a partially excavated Swahili ruins site dating back to the 13th century. There are several monkey groups inhabiting the ruins, however some groups are much more used to people than others. It’s possible to get some great shots if you’re willing to leave the parking lot and brave the unexcavated ruins. These are my favorite areas, but they can be quite treacherous. I frequently find myself tripping over rubble, navigating ancient limestone walls, avoiding open wells, and worst of all – getting lost – amid the myriad of ancient mosques, trees, and paths.
Tuaregs I was attending a Tuareg wedding in the Tenere desert north of Agadez in 1996 when I took this shot. I have no idea what was going on in this particular scene. Was the man approaching assisting us with travel logistics? Was he coming to inform us of some Tuareg wedding etiquette of which we were unaware? Or maybe, quite possibly, he wasn’t approaching us at all. I’ll never know.
Girl in Agadez This shot was taken in Agadez, Niger in 1996. I was wandering around town by myself and this girl greeted me with such a big smile as I passed that I couldn’t help but ask if I could take her photograph. I’d love to see what she looks like now.
Streets of Agadez This shot was taken as I was wandering around alone on the streets of Agadez in northern Niger in 1996. Agadez is an otherworldly place where the streets and buildings are made of mud, blending into the colors and textures of the surrounding desert. I kept thinking I was on the distant planet of Tatooine from Star Wars.
Three Wodaabe Girls This shot was taken in 1996 in Northern Niger. These girls were hanging out prior to the annual Wodaabe beauty pageant – the Gerewol festival, which I was fortunate to attend. We were camping with the Wodaabe for 4 or 5 days and so were able to be a part of the event preparation, as well as the event itself. As the Wodaabe are nomadic, the Gerewol takes place somewhere out in the desert, the location of which is disclosed immediately prior to the event. It’s the only beauty pageant in the world that I know of where the men are the contestants and the women are the final judges.
Simon This little chimpanzee is now grown – his name is Simon. Simon was confiscated from a hunter who killed his mother, and brought to the sanctuary I managed in Cameroon in 2001. The sanctuary then housed 18 chimpanzees, but currently houses over 80. All are victims of the bush meat trade in Cameroon. Mothers and other adult family members are shot and sent to the market where their meat is processed and purchased by wealthy Africans. The infants are then usually taken home by the hunters and tied up in hopes of selling them for a high price. In this case, the young chimp was confiscated by ministry of the environment officials and given to the sanctuary. Simon was extremely lucky – he had no wounds when he arrived and followed us wherever we went prior to being introduced to others his age.
Elephant Tree Elephant trees as I call them, are fantastic pieces of artwork scattered throughout the national parks in Kenya. Elephant trees are those which elephants regularly rub against to scratch themselves. After a number of months or years, the trees begin to resemble polished burls with fantastic patterns and shapes visible within their smooth and colorful surfaces.
Hand and Bird This is the hand of an ornithologist I know in Kenya. He is giving one of his early morning bird ringing (banding) demonstrations to a group of students whom will spend the week setting up nets and banding birds to be released. When re-captured, the banded birds provide researchers with valuable information on migratory patterns and population dynamics.
Elephants While driving through Tsavo National Park in Kenya last year, I saw an elephant herd emerging from a watering hole. I couldn’t resist this shot of a younger elephant framed by the body of one of its’ older relatives. The family was covered with red mud – characteristic of Tsavo elephants. Tsavo East is known for it’s large elephant herds, however these numbers have declined in recent years due the demand for ivory. Unfortunately Satao, the oldest and largest elephant living in Tsavo – and in Kenya for that matter – was killed earlier this year with a poison arrow.
Lions I and two Maasai friends were driving around the Maasai Mara game reserve in an old beat up 4 X 4 last April, when we were privileged to see twenty-one lions in one day. This number was something none of us had anticipated, nor had ever seen before. We stumbled upon one lion group after another throughout the day. After spending about half an hour with the group in this photograph my friend joked that we needed to see two more to turn our already astonishing count of eighteen lions, into an unbelievable count of twenty. Well, one of my favorite things about being on safari is that it’s different very time. You never know what you’ll see – ever. That day will be remembered as the day of lions. Upon returning to the gate, we spotted not two, but three more, topping out at twenty-one for the day! Not bad. We returned to camp elated and ready to share our stories.
Gorilla Contact Sheet These shots were taken at a chimpanzee sanctuary I managed in 2001. We had just confiscated a baby gorilla from a hunter whose mother was killed for bush meat. We watched her for two days before she (Akiba Berry) was transferred to her current home – a gorilla sanctuary in the south of Cameroon. Reserved compared to the baby chimps, Akiba seemed content to sit in our laps, eat leaves, and of course – look cute and fuzzy. I recently started developing 75 rolls of film that sat for years in a cabinet collecting dust. The process has been an adventure. Like tiny little time capsules – each one is a surprise from my past. Initially, revisiting this process was laborious and tiring. But once I got into it, I lost track of time. A similar thing happens while editing on the computer, but I’ll always miss those late nights in the darkroom.
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