Pangolins are the world’s most illegally trafficked mammals, with an estimated one million being trafficked to Asia in the last ten years. Their scales are used in traditional Chinese and Vietnamese medicine and their meat is sold as a high-priced delicacy. As a result, pangolins are listed as critically endangered and all trade or consumption is illegal. This essay attempts to look at the trade, aspects of illegality and the few people who are trying to rescue these animals and lobby for their survival.
Indonesia’s Sumatran orangutan is under severe threat from the incessant and ongoing depletion and fragmentation of the rainforest. As palm oil and rubber plantations, logging, road construction, mining, hunting and other development continue to proliferate, orangutans are being forced out of their natural habitat. Organizations like OIC (Orangutan Information Center) and their immediate response team HOCRU (Human Orangutan Conflict Response Unit), rescue orangutans in difficulty while SOCP (Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme) works to reintroduce orangutans into the wild and to create new self-sustaining, genetically viable populations in protected forests.
Despite the Basel Convention, which was issued in 1992 to reduce and prevent the trade of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries, there are still many open-air electronic waste dumps in the world. Agbogbloshie, besides being a scrap yard, is one of them. Appliances, phones and computers are imported, mainly from European countries, as second-hand goods. Many of them have very short lifespan left or are not working and they soon end up being dismantled and burned in Agbogbloshie, in order to extract raw materials like copper and aluminum. Workers process this waste without any health or environmental regulation, in order to extract raw materials, like copper and aluminum. The contamination involves not only the air, but also the nearby soil and the Odaw river waters. Various attempts of rehabilitation programs have been made, but inconsistency, lack of political coordination, concurrently with the development of the city, the world's increase consume of electronic devices and an absent regulated disposal system, leave Accra one of the most affected areas.
Hong Kong is facing a political crisis, with waves of demonstrations and violent clashes between police and protestors. What started as a protest against a proposed government extradition bill allowing citizens to be extradited to China has since morphed into a wider call for democratic rights in the semi-autonomous city. After seven months of protests, people continue their call for their remaining demands since the controversial extradition bill has been withdrawn, which includes an independent inquiry into police brutality, the retraction of the word 'riot' to describe protests, amnesty against prosecution for all those arrested, Chief Executive Carrie Lam's resignation and genuine universal suffrage.
In winter, hundreds of swans migrate for wintering to Lebedinoe Lake, the only non-freezing lake in the Altai Krai region. Warm springs heat the water so that the lake doesn't freeze even when the temperature drops to around minus 40 degrees Celsius, helping swans to survive the severe cold.
Like millions of Kurds in Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, I faced many problems throughout my life when I tried to express my Kurdish identity and culture. It was forbidden for us to live in our traditions or study our language. We live in our land like shadows, without our colors. In 1916, The Sykes-Picot agreement separated Kurdistan into four parts, still existing, for a population of almost 30 million Kurds.
Most likely the tradition of Mongolian contortionism dates back to the practices of Buddhist monks, who used to bend the body to the will of the mind. Later, during the communist regime, the Mongolian State Circus on tour was one of the rare occasions of contact with the western countries and so the discipline became famous all over the world. At the fall of communism, the Mongolian people regained the tradition of contortionism and circus art, obtaining widespread interest and opening amateur and professional schools.
Polio is a highly infectious virus that cripples those children it does not kill. In 2002, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared it had contained polio to Nigeria, Pakistan and India and was close to eradicating it. A vaccine to eradicate polio became a line in the sand for Muslim clerics. Religious zealotry and misinformation coerced villagers in the Muslim north of Nigeria into refusing polio vaccinations saying that the U.N. vaccine was part of a larger Western conspiracy and thus led to the re-emergence of polio. Over the next four years, more than 3,000 of Nigeria’s unprotected children were infected with polio and the contagion spread, with more than 20 countries reinfected with the Nigeria strain of the virus.
In the rapid development of China's economy, there are many construction sites in every city. These drone images of construction scenes clearly witness the urbanization process. Construction sites are often very messy and disorganized, but from a different point of view, a certain harmony of lines and rules can also be perceived.
I spent around 7 years in the Kalahari Desert. Captured stories of happiness, drought, sadness, humor and survival. I repaired hundreds of tires, played mechanic. Spent thousands of hours around waterholes in the dry season. Got washed away by the huge downpours, got stuck, got lost, got bitten by hundreds of insects. I watched fireflies fill the night sky. Got attacked by a hippo, charged by elephants, our camp destroyed by baboons. I fell in love with a unique part of the African continent. I always believe if you live an ordinary life you tell ordinary stories. You have to live a life of adventure! This is our life.
Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh with more then 17 million people, is one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Over 2,000 new residents migrate every day, forced to leave their homes because of floods, cyclones and rising sea levels. Dhaka is not able to absorb the increasing population and offer people suitable living conditions. Families live in primitive huts built between toxic waste dumps and brick factories, where air, soil and water are heavily contaminated.
Scenes from everyday life of Sofie, a 19 year old girl with Down Syndrome, on her family's estate the year she finished school. At that time Sofie was in that awkward, yet beautiful and thrilling age of transition from a girl to a woman, when every feeling is extremely intense and love seems to be the main purpose of life, taking her first steps toward love. She feels the same things as we do, but I believe her feelings are more earnest, more intense. She finds joy in simple things and is free from social pressure, as she doesn’t seem to worry about what others think of her at all.
Death certainly is part of the human condition and one of the few events we all share, across cultures and borders, albeit we address it in very different ways. In some places – like Denmark – death is taboo, in other places death and the deceased are natural parts of the life of the living. Through this documentation of different death and burial rituals, people will gain insight into how much any given culture’s values, hopes and dreams are reflected in their thoughts about death and life after death, and how differently we treat our dead from culture-to-culture.
In the world there are now only 6 patients suffering from the Ablepharon-Macrostomia syndrome, a rare genetic disease characterized by various physical anomalies. Lesha Shaev is one of the six. The syndrome was transmitted to him from his mother, who immediately abandoned him in an orphanage from where he was adopted into a large family with both biological and adopted children. His foster parents took his treatment seriously: he underwent several operations to improve the quality of life, began to play sports dance, and go to school. Lesha has a completely intact intellect, but because of the years spent in the orphanage he is somewhat behind his peers.
An Endless War continues in Afghanistan, which began with the United States invasion of Afghanistan on October 7, 2001. After 18 years of war, the Taliban control more of the country and the endless, very brutal war has cost around a trillion dollars. A staggering human toll has been paid by the people of Afghanistan with approximately 147,000 killed in the war. More than 38,000 were civilians. The overall civilian casualty figures were much higher in 2019. Besides the bloody attacks from the Taliban this also includes Afghan army operations and international forces as well.
Nomadelfia, which means "where brotherhood is law", is a community, founded in 1948 by Don Zeno Saltini, with the purpose of finding parents for abandoned children. It is a civil association organized in the form of a work cooperative and for the Church it is a parish and a private association of devotees. It currently has a population of around 300 people, almost half of whom are children, the pulsating part of the community. All goods are shared and the economic resources come from work, from social security contributions for children in care and from the providence, largely through apostolate activities: publishing, evening shows and meetings.
Over 60% of the world’s population now live in densely populated urban areas, where opportunities for sport and recreation are limited. But oases do exist, some created by local residents. These images are ‘one chapter’ in a long-term project capturing urban sports areas across the globe. In Havana, Áreas Deportivas are often not much more than a reclaimed open concrete courtyard with basic exercise equipment, some ‘pitches’ marked out in paint and a few basketball hoops. In densely populated urban areas with limited ‘green space’, they provide an opportunity for activity and recreation. They remain an important part of the well-being culture in the city.
Arenas are worlds built on a complex set of unwritten and unspoken rules, events and traditions. They offer a stage inhabited with characters that belong, that share a silent understanding. These photographs don’t try to document the central stage where the fights take place, but the margins where the sense of belonging is magnified.
The year 2019 marked the 25th anniversary of South Africa as a free country. Apartheid ended in 1994, when the country elected Nelson Mandela as its first black president. A new constitution gave all South Africans equal rights, but Mandela knew the wounds left by apartheid would live on into the 21st century. To speed their healing, he focused his presidency on reconciliation and hope for the future. The children born right after apartheid ended are now young adults: the born-free generation. These 25 years have been a bumpy road; youth unemployment in 2019 is soaring at 58%, but many born frees also live succesful lives. Their stories are about social change, hope, lost hope, racism, equality and strength.
Beauty against the imperfections of women, in a world where everything centres on perfection. These women have the strength to show their vulnerabilities, literally and figuratively and to reveal their stories behind the scars. The uncertainties, the fears and the pain. These vulnerabilities touched me and it moved me deeply that they were willing to share their stories with me. Stories about open heart operations, multiple kidney transplants, auto-immune diseases and more. In this series the scars are "decorated" in their own, personal way.
In the local church of a rural village in northern Sweden, husband Tomaz and daughter Carmen mourn as Ida Boström has finally been laid to rest after a long and arduous battle against breast cancer. She was first diagnosed in 2011 and fought the disease for eight years, before the cancer eventually ripped her away from family and loved ones.
Vitiligo is a chronic condition characterized by depigmented patches of skin. While the exact causes of the disease remain unknown, available treatments range from creams and lotions to phototherapy, to pills. They may help reduce the visibility of vitiligo, but no cure currently exists. Even though vitiligo does not affect physical health, it could be life altering due to the social stigma and prejudice attached to it. Showing their bodies was not easy for these people, but by doing so they have demonstrated an ability to accept themselves and their diversity.
Kushti is a traditional form of wrestling developed in Northern India in the 16th century, and still practiced today. Wrestlers gather in a gym and face each other in a pit filled with clay mixed with salt, lemon and ghee. Before each match, athletes pray to Lord Hanuman, Hindu god of strength and patron of all fighters. The strict practice of kushti is traditionally believed to drive young men towards a more positive and healthy lifestyle. More than just a sport, it’s a cultural heritage which embodies masculinity and represents, for some at least, a pathway out of poverty. Castes and differences are left at the door.
Children make up more than 30% of all asylum seekers across Europe, and half of them are escaping from conflict, persecution and poverty from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Macedonia, Moldova... Germany is still the top destination for refugee and migrant children. Stanko and his friends have been living in Spandau's old British military barracks, hosting thousands of newcomers. He used to throw stones at the few foxes he found wandering around and three years later he still chases them, but his goal is completely different: he now has a mobile phone in his hand and observes their silent and graceful movements, their grimacing and their distant howling, picturing all of it through his lens.
The “Floured’s war” is a traditional celebration dating back 200 years and remembering the Slaughter of the Innocents under Herod. For a whole day the inhabitants dress in military clothes and are divided into two groups: the "Enfarinatas" simulate a coup d’etat, while a sort of police force, "La Oposicio" , tries to restore order. The two groups challenge each other with blows of flour, eggs, water, firecrackers and coloured smoke bombs. The Enfarinatas invade the city, conquer it and elect a Mayor who sets new laws for the day. The Enfarinatas also collect fines from those who break the new "laws", but at the end donate the money to charity.
The mountain farmers - the last of their kind. A rare glimpse inside the hidden and fast ending world of an old traditional way of life and of a dying culture. The faces of these mountain people tell their stories. They are simple, honest people with some bitterness and a fighting spirit. They capture an almost forgotten way of life in a world that is fast-paced and ever changing, and with that change an era is coming to an end as the children of these farmers have mostly chosen a different path.
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