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Top 10 Photos of a Year in America’s Serengeti

Assembling a large conservation area in the 21st century takes many sorts of people, from explorers, entrepreneurs, and biologists to philanthropists, community members, and volunteers. As we work to return the lands of the American Prairie Reserve to a wild, natural state, we learn a lot from all of these people. We also gain unique insights about natural places through photographers that use elements of light, movement, drama, and scale to make remote landscapes come alive for viewers around the world. 

These images remind me of the different lenses through which we experience the outdoors and how progress can be captured in a split second. As we push forward in a new year, I am grateful for the diversity of people that bring the Reserve to life, including the adventurous photographers that captured these special moments of 2014.

The Next Generation. Photo by Mike Kautz/Adventurers & Scientists for Conservation
The Next Generation. Photo by Mike Kautz/Adventurers & Scientists for Conservation

Since 2005, Bison have roamed the northern plains of Montana on American Prairie Reserve. After ten years of bison restoration, scenes like this one are increasingly common. Newborn calves on the Reserve this spring will bring the herd to more than 500 animals.

Prairie Dog Sentinel. Photo by Gib Myers/APR
Prairie Dog Sentinel. Photo by Gib Myers/APR

With a complex vocabulary and dynamic social structure, prairie dog towns are one of the few places on the Reserve where silence is uncommon. Prairie dogs serving in the sentinel role help guard the town guard against intruders like badgers and rattlesnakes (and the occasional hiker) with high-pitched barks.

Citizen Science Huddle. Photo by Erik Goldstein
Citizen Science Huddle. Photo by Erik Goldstein

Volunteers with the Landmark adventure science program will hike the equivalent of one circumnavigation of the earth (20,000 miles!) over the course of the three-year project. Conservation photographer Erik Goldstein captured this early morning team huddle when he explored the Reserve this fall. See the full gallery on his website.

King of the Elk Rut. Photo by Gib Myers/APR
King of the Elk Rut. Photo by Gib Myers/APR

Hundreds of elk come together for their annual rut each fall. It’s a must-see wildlife spectacle that can easily be safely enjoyed on the neighboring Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. With this photo, you can almost hear the bellowing elk bull as sunset falls on the Missouri River.

Cross-country Into the Sky. Photo by Dennis Lingohr/APR
Cross-country Into the Sky. Photo by Dennis Lingohr/APR

Hiking in Big Sky Country brings visitors to a landscape that’s far from flat. This group heads up into the Missouri River Breaks, where the topography reveals geologic wonders… and dinosaurs on occasion!

Ready for Release. Photo by Mike Kautz/Adventurers & Scientists for Conservation
Ready for Release. Photo by Mike Kautz/Adventurers & Scientists for Conservation

Last spring, the Reserve again worked with Canada’s Elk Island National Park to transfer bison into our herd and boost its genetic health. This yearling calf waits anxiously for release from quarantine.

Fall Landscape of Lewis & Clark. Photo by Dennis Lingohr/APR
Fall Landscape of Lewis & Clark. Photo by Dennis Lingohr/APR

Towering cliffs above the Missouri River are no match for the striking colors of fall. Reserve photographer Dennis Lingohr captured this remote scene after hiking through the historic Cow Creek and Cow Island areas, inholdings within the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. Cow Island has a fascinating past, spanning hundreds of years of human history and animal migrations.

Colorful Spring Dance of Sharp-tailed Grouse. Photo by Dennis Lingohr/APR
Colorful Spring Dance of Sharp-tailed Grouse. Photo by Dennis Lingohr/APR

Like their Greater sage grouse neighbors, Sharp-tailed grouse put on exotic annual mating displays each spring in hope of attracting a mate. Their feet-stomping, tail-shaking dance is enhanced by the colorful purple air sacs on their necks.

Autumn Flooding Fades Into Dusk. Photo by Morgan Cardiff
Autumn Flooding Fades Into Dusk. Photo by Morgan Cardiff

About a foot of rain fell on the prairie this fall, flooding low-lying areas and washing out roads. During this time, photographer Morgan Cardiff was living on the Reserve as part of the Landmark adventure science program and captured this sunset scene looking across a new temporary wetland. Not pictured: hoards of reawakened mosquitoes. See Morgan’s full gallery on his website.

Night Sky Safari at Kestrel Camp. Photo by Gib Myers/APR
Night Sky Safari at Kestrel Camp. Photo by Gib Myers/APR

Tucked into the rolling hills of our Sun Prairie region, Kestrel Camp offers guests the chance to experience the grasslands with intimate nature experiences. Gib Myers, the Vice Chair of our Board of Directors, took this photo on a trip this fall, showcasing the true Big Sky feel of night on the prairie. See more of Gib’s photos from the Reserve and Montana. 

 

American Prairie Reserve (APR) is assembling a world-class wildlife reserve in northern Montana, with the goal of one day creating a seamless 3.5 million acre grassland ecosystem. APR’s President Sean Gerrity is a National Geographic Explorer and was recently profiled by The Innovators Project. Learn more about the Reserve, including how to visit, on the Reserve’s website

Comments

  1. Katie Losey, Absolute Travel
    New York, New York
    January 20, 2015, 4:15 pm

    Hard to pick one. I was completely ignorant to the issues facing prairie dogs before my visit to APR, so the chubster pictured has one of my votes. I usually think sunset shots are overrated, but I’m drawn to the one here because it captures the all-encompassing expanse of the prairie.

  2. Brad Mangas
    Kansas
    January 14, 2015, 10:59 am

    Good stuff, thanks.