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The Empty Ark

I am happy to announce that the July issue of OP features a story on my work on Endangered Species written by Kim Castleberry. I hope you’ll have a look. I have been working for the past two years on telling the little-known stories of rare and endangered animals around the world: Amazon River Dolphins, Patagonian Otters, and most recently, threatened primates in a remote part of Eastern India. It is a project I call “The Empty Ark,” a reference to the increasing speed of extinction in the world today.

This Stump-tailed Macaque was one of a troop of 100 or more that I followed through the dense Indian monsoon forest for an entire day in March. Just keeping up with them was my greatest challenge, since they could pass through the forest much more quickly, and effortlessly, than I could ever hope to. Imagine my delight, therefore, when this male decided to take a rest on a vine… at eye-level. Totally unconcerned with my presence, he scratched himself, went to the bathroom, and sat there for five full minutes.

The setting was nearly perfect : the tangle of vines and lush green background looked more like a painted museum diorama than a slice of dense jungle. With the unexpected luxury of time I could search for a composition, working with the  vines to create a flattering design, and positioning my subject slightly off-center in the frame. The yawn simply gave me a little something extra.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that this primate is extremely rare and threatened by habitat loss in this far-flung corner of India. The reserve where I was working is little more than a tiny island of Indo-Malayan forest, adrift in a sea of tea plantations.

Meanwhile, I realize that I am the only full-time wildlife photographer blogging here at OP, and that most of my work is done overseas. I hope this will provide a slightly different perspective on the business of nature photography: I invite your questions and comments in the months ahead.