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Sometime in May 2012, I found myself sitting on the damp forest floor of the Daintree rainforest in Queensland, Australia next to a sleeping cassowary. Cassowaries are huge flightless birds that live in the tropical forests of Australia and New Guinea. They look prehistoric; half-bird and half-dinosaur with fine, glossy-black feathers, a long featherless neck colored turquoise, red and orange, and an absurdly tall shiny-brown casque on top of their heads. Sadly, cassowaries are endangered across much of their range due to hunting, loss of forest habitat, and predation from feral pigs and dogs. It is estimated that fewer than 1500 Southern Cassowaries remain in the tropical forests of Queensland, Australia, and this is where I went to document these awesome birds.
National Geographic photographer Christian Ziegler shares pictures and thoughts about the marvelous diversity of Barro Colorado, a tropical island sanctuary in the middle of one of the world’s most famous and busy waterways. The award-winning photographer has updated “A Magic Web,” a large-format picture book about the island and its thousands of species.
Panama-based Christian Ziegler specializes in nature photography. His exclusive photos of bonobos appear in the March 2013 issue of National Geographic, illustrating “The Left Bank Ape”, written by David Quammen. In this blog post for News Watch, Ziegler portrays Lola ya Bonobo, a sanctuary for bonobos orphaned by hunters who took their mothers for bushmeat. Here in the grounds of a former country club on the edge of Kinshasa, human “mamas” act as surrogate mothers for baby bonobos, giving them the love and stimulation essential for them to survive.
Confucius called them the “king of fragrant plants,” and John Ruskin condemned them as “prurient apparitions.” Across the centuries, orchids have captivated us with their elaborate exoticism, their powerful perfumes, and their sublime seductiveness. But the disquieting beauty of orchids is an unplanned marvel of evolution, and the story of orchids is as captivating as…