National Geographic Magazine June 2019

The Hidden Cost Of Wildlife Tourism

By Natasha Daly, photos by Kirsten Luce

  • WILDLIFE TOURISM: Underpinning many wildlife tourism activities around the world is extreme animal suffering. Social media is driving new demand for riding elephants, swimming with dolphins, posing with bears. “Influencers” —young people with huge Instagram followings who post photos from exotic locations — are helping fuel these activities. But most travelers don’t know that their interactions often involve animal abuse. This feature uncovers some of the harmful wildlife tourism practices taking place primarily in Thailand, Russia and the Amazon.
    • Interviews with writer Natasha Daly and photographer Kirsten Luce
    • B roll from accompanying mini-documentary, “Inside the Dark World of Captive Wildlife Tourism”
    • Exclusive images from this special report by photographer Kirsten Luce

Poaching May Doom the Shy, Elusive Pangolin

By Rachel Bale, photos by Brent Stirton

  • MAMMALS IN CRISIS: Pangolins are believed to be the worlds most trafficked mammal. There are four species in Africa and four in Asia, all of which have been poached to the edge of extinction. Their scales are in high demand in East and Southeast Asia for traditional medicinal uses and as a luxury food item. The pangolin’s defense mechanism, curling up in a ball, makes the animals especially vulnerable to human hunters. The transnational trade in African pangolins to Asia has grown rapidly in recent years, as Asian pangolins become harder to find. This feature explores both the supply and demand sides of the pangolin trade and the involvement of organized criminal syndicates.
    • Interviews with wildlife crime reporter Rachel Bale and renowned photographer Brent Stirton
    • Images of the most trafficked mammal in the world, the pangolin
    • B roll from the accompanying mini-documentary about pangolins in Nigeria

The Brave Ones

By Lindsay M. Smith, photos by Brent Stirton

  • FEMALE RANGERS: Zimbabwe’s Akashinga (‘Brave Ones’ in the local dialect) rangers are an elite force of women working to conserve wildlife and fight poachers. This features delves into the lives of these women. Chosen exclusively from local unemployed, single mothers, widows, or victims of abuse, the rangers are part of a community-driven conservation model that is a rare success story.
    • Interviews with author Lindsay Smith and renowned environmental and conflict photographer, Brent Stirton
    • Stunning images of the Akashinga and the land they protect

The Weed That Feeds the Atlantic

By James Prosek, photos by David Liittschwager

  • A SEA OF SARGASSUM: Legendary oceanographer Sylvia Earle calls the huge Atlantic gyre named for its mats of sargassum weed a “floating rain forest.” Nowhere else on the planet supports as much diversity in the middle of the ocean. This feature reveals the secrets of this nursery of life.
    • Interviews with author James Prosek and underwater photographer David Liittschwager
    • Extraordinary images of underwater life inside the sargassum weed

Media Contacts:

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Kelsey Taylor,, 202-912-6776