This month, an investigative report by Bryan Christy implicates organized religion in the demand for illegal ivory. In addition, leaves are profiled…how did they evolve and why do they look the way they do? Photographer David Alan Harvey takes us into Rio de Janeiro as it prepares to host the 2016 Olympics. Central America’s Mesoamerican Reef and its remarkable eco-region are explored, as are cliffside caves in Nepal’s Mustang region. A photo piece on the animal squatters of a rural Finnish town is included.
Available on print newsstands Sept. 25 and as a fully interactive e-magazine available on the App Store Sept. 14.
Special Content for iPad Edition Includes:
- Elephants in Crisis video — Reporter Bryan Christy investigates the illegal ivory trade, tracing the path of elephant tusks from Africa to Asia and the role organized religious demand plays in ivory smuggling.
- Global Ivory Trade map — Tap on the maps to explore elephant poaching in Africa and ivory seizures in Asia.
- The Story of Nature Prints narrated gallery — Tap on a series of nature prints to hear commentary on the making of the prints, including the techniques and technology used, by historian Roderick Cave.
- Mesoamerican Reef map — Tap on the map to explore the fragile habitats of the reef and the threats they are facing from overfishing, inland land clearing, offshore oil exploration and more.
- Spawning Snappers video — Photographer Brian Skerry takes viewers down under to watch cubera snappers spawn in spring along the coast of Belize.
- Secrets of a Nepalese Cave video — Step inside a tomb located among the Samdzong caves in the Mustang region of Nepal to explore its mysterious contents in this artist’s reconstruction.
Ivory Worship, by Bryan Christy, photographed by Brent Stirton (Page 28). Every year, thousands of elephants die so that their tusks can be carved into religious objects. The slaughter is massive and accelerating, spurred in large part by growing demand in China. Bryan Christy’s two-year-long investigative report took him around the world, from the African savanna where elephants are killed with grenades and AK-47s to the luxury goods stores of China and carving workshops of Southeast Asia. Christy’s investigative report reveals that representatives of the Catholic Church in the Philippines and Buddhists in Thailand are connected to illegal ivory trading. Demand for religious art is an overlooked piece of the illegal ivory trade, which fueled the slaughter of 25,000 or more elephants last year. Brent Stirton’s photographs highlight the complexity of the crisis and the tremendous challenges that lie ahead. Christy and Stirton are available for interviews.
The Glory of Leaves, by Rob Dunn (Page 62). The simple yet elegant poetry of leaves is captured beautifully by Rob Dunn. Whatever their structure, they are designed to essentially accomplish the same thing: to turn light into life. Leaves capture the energy from sunlight, turning it into the sugar from which plants, animals and civilizations are built. Whether located in the hot and dry deserts of Africa or nutrient-poor bogs, plants have battled to survive, adapt and flourish, and their glory lies in simple differences and delicate details. Dunn is available for interviews.
A New Face for Rio, by Antonio Regalado, photographed by David Alan Harvey (Page 72). For all its beauty and spirit, the image of Rio de Janeiro has long been tarnished by its favelas — violence-filled squatter communities that are home to almost a quarter of the city’s 6.3 million residents. But with the city set to play host to two world-class events — the World Cup in 2014 and the summer Olympics in 2016 — officials are spending millions and a lot of effort to give these hillside slums a face-lift, improve the city’s infrastructure, pacify the gangs and inspire confidence in the government’s ability to manage large-scale projects outside of Carnival. Harvey’s alluring photography profiles the vibrant city that is set to make its debut on the world stage in a big way. Regalado and Harvey are available for interviews.
Remarkable Reef, by Kenneth Brower, photographed by Brian Skerry (Page 92). The Mesoamerican Reef, stretching more than 600 miles along the coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, is less than half as long as its Australian cousin, the Great Barrier Reef, but “is in its own way the more remarkable,” writes Kenneth Brower. Its diverse and intricate ecosystem, anchored by mangroves, sea grasses and coral reefs, is bound tightly to inshore habitats and myriad sea creatures. Brian Skerry brilliantly captures the loggerhead turtles, slow-grazing manatees and cubera snappers that depend on the reef’s protection to reproduce and find food. Brower and Skerry are available for interviews.
Nepal’s Sky Caves, by Michael Finkel, photographed by Cory Richards (Page 114). Mustang, a former kingdom in north-central Nepal, is home to one of the world’s great archaeological mysteries. Archaeologists are starting to unravel the secrets hidden in an extraordinary number of human-built caves, of which there are conservatively 10,000 in the region. Some date back as far as 3,000 years ago and were used as burial chambers, while later examples served as living quarters. Making the climb up sheer walls of fragile, crumbling rock is “pure thuggery” according to one climber, but the effort is worth it for what a cave might contain — like one treasure trove of 8,000 calligraphed manuscripts dating back 600 years. The artifacts found so far are helping to rewrite the region’s prehistory, and scientists are captivated by what future discoveries might reveal. Finkel and Richards are available for interviews.
Wild Squatters, by Carolyn Butler, photographed by Kai Fagerström (Page 136). Kai Fagerström of Finland is an amateur photographer and he doesn’t even own a flash. But what he lacks in equipment he makes up for in patience and adaptability. Fagerström found inspiration near his family’s summer home in rural Suomusjärvi, where dilapidated, ramshackle cottages abandoned by their owners have begun to be claimed by animals. A red squirrel peeks out of a broken window; a family of badgers files out of a fireplace; a pygmy owl stamps his feet in defiance — these are the type of endearing photos that can only be made by a local who is intimately familiar with the environment. Butler and Fagerström are available for interviews.