The abandoned Cold War air force base on Middleton Island off the coast of Alaska has transformed into a thriving habitat for an abundance of bird life. With the U.S. military vacating the base in the mid-sixties, it has become a sanctuary for thousands of seabirds, such as black-legged kittiwakes, cormorants, puffins, auklets, and common murres. A small group of international scientists has taken up residence on the island to study the birds and learn about the changing state of our oceans. These birds serve as an important indicator of the depths of the ocean and the health of fisheries, especially in treacherous areas beyond human reach.
Myanmar has been experiencing a civil war since February 2021, when the military ousted the country’s first democratically elected government following the coup d’état of 1962. Citizens from all social classes have joined militias and armed ethnic groups in their efforts to liberate the country. Unfortunately, the junta has responded brutally and indiscriminately, resulting in the deaths of thousands of people, including nearly 200 children. According to UN estimates, this conflict has also led to the displacement of over one million people. In recent months, fighting has intensified, and the Tatmadaw, the military force in Myanmar, has increased airstrikes throughout the country.
In early January 2022, Wolfang traveled to eastern Ukraine for the first time with the intention of covering an environmental story. Instead he found himself covering daily life in the trenches of Donbas for the next two months. Over this time he developed a deep appreciation for the hospitality and generosity of Ukrainians. Thus, he decided to stay once the war broke out on February 24 and work covering breaking news and daily life throughout 2022. This story provides an overview of his coverage spanning eight months in Ukraine in 2022.
Odesa stands as a symbolic and strategically significant city, not only because it holds the key to the Black Sea, but also because it represents a struggle between Russian and Ukrainian identities, between an imperial past and a democratic future. In June 2022, despite being almost six months into the ongoing war, Odesa stood resilient, although not unscathed. Away from the horrors of war witnessed by many photographers, these scenes of daily life capture the essence of a fiercely independent and unwaveringly inclusive city, symbolizing the indomitable spirit of an entire nation.
Horse racing holds a special place in the hearts of Senegalese, alongside wrestling and football, as one of their most beloved sports. Among Senegal’s promising young jockeys, Fallou Diop shines as a national sensation at the remarkable age of 19. With each victory, Fallou not only carves his own path but also ignites inspiration in a new generation, empowering them to shape their own futures. Despite humble beginnings and leaving school at the age of 12, today Fallou can earn up to $600 per race, in a country where the average monthly income is around 180 euros. These earnings not only support his father, a hardworking farmer with two wives and fifteen children, but also contribute to his siblings’ education, improvements to the family home in Niaga, and assistance to their neighbors. Fallou’s remarkable journey has garnered a legion of devoted fans who follow him with unwavering admiration, aspiring to emulate his extraordinary success. The thriving equine industry in Senegal offers plentiful employment opportunities for young people, providing a glimmer of hope in a nation where the unemployment rate among 15 to 34-year-olds stands at 15%. Fallou’s current dream is to compete in Morocco and France, where he hopes to refine his skills and take his career to new heights. These earnings not only support his father, a hardworking farmer with two wives and fifteen children, but also contribute to his siblings' education, improvements to the family home in Niaga, and assistance to their neighbors. Fallou's remarkable journey has garnered a legion of devoted fans who follow him with unwavering admiration, aspiring to emulate his extraordinary success. The thriving equine industry in Senegal offers plentiful employment opportunities for young people, providing a glimmer of hope in a nation where the unemployment rate among 15 to 34-year-olds stands at 15%. Fallou's current dream is to compete in Morocco and France, where he hopes to refine his skills and take his career to new heights.
Life in Ukraine changes drastically when sirens sound. Queuing for an eternity to buy vegetables becomes meaningless as you must leave them behind. You have to turn off lights or head to a shelter. When walking on the road, you should always look at the sky, to see if there is a rising smoke: sometimes rockets or drones may pass over your head. Eventually, there comes a time when the sirens stop having any meaning, and you no longer want to enter a bunker or worry about it. This is when one has gotten used to war, whether they like it or not, since it has become the greatest reality in their life. Electricity cuts last a little longer each day, and the tap water runs the color of mud. Long bread lines get even longer. At midnight, you may wake up to the sound of landing rockets. War prohibitions and new funerals happen every day. The cold, icy ground starts to bore you more and more each day, and the snow falling on the grass in the morning is less interesting. The only meaningful reality is the cold winter months, and the hope that the war will be over by the next spring.
There are an estimated 5,000 – 10,000 captive tigers in the United States, more than remain in the wild in Asia. The was no federal law regulating ownership, and in some states, it was harder to adopt a kitten from a shelter than to keep a tiger in your backyard. On a two-year investigation for National Geographic, photographer Steve Winter looked into the industry that has created what some call “the US tiger crisis”: cub petting and photo op tourist attractions. He discovered that females are mass‑bred to produce a constant stream of cubs that can only be used from eight weeks old until they’re too dangerous to handle at four months. He found evidence of abuse, killing of ‘excess’ tigers and domestic and international trafficking. It’s an unregulated situation that provides cover for Asian “tiger farms,” that feed a lucrative black market in tiger parts – and drives poaching of the last wild tigers. National Geographic Magazine gave every member of Congress a copy of the story. The Big Cat Public Safety Act was passed by a unanimous vote in the Senate on December 6, 2022 and was signed into law by President Biden on December 20, 2022. Conservation colleagues who work on Capital Hill said members mentioned our story as a deciding factor in their votes. This is the power of photography and storytelling!
In Sherpur district of Bangladesh, the local community is struggling against a group of wild elephants that cross the border with India every night in search of food, destroying rice fields and homes. The situation is so severe that the villagers living in the border area are forced to spend sleepless months, lighting fires and patrolling the fields to keep the animals away. This has made it difficult for the local communities to survive, resulting in numerous complaints to the local police and even loss of human lives. Asian elephants have been living in Bangladesh for thousands of years, but the increase in human settlements, land encroachment, and unplanned development have destroyed their natural habitat. This has led to intense conflicts between humans and elephants, resulting in the deaths of over 50 elephants in the past five years, with 34 of them occurring in 2021 alone. The biggest threat to their survival is posed by electric wires used by farmers to keep the animals away. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the remaining approximately 260 individuals in Bangladesh as critically endangered species. Without swift solutions, Asian wild elephants could disappear entirely from the country.
On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, resulting in a significant escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War and causing Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II. The United Nations’ refugee agency estimates that more than eight million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their country, with an additional eight million people being internally displaced since the invasion, including half of the country’s children. The majority of the refugees are women, children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Male Ukrainian nationals aged 18 to 60 are subject to mandatory conscription and are not allowed to leave Ukraine, except under certain exemptions.
Fentanyl is currently the leading cause of death among Americans aged 18 to 49, surpassing car accidents, suicides, and gun violence in its devastating toll. Over the past seven years, a series of strategic mistakes by successive US administrations has exacerbated the deadliest drug crisis in American history. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the country’s anti-narcotics agency, has struggled to keep up with the surging production of fentanyl in Mexico, which has overtaken Chinese producers as the primary supplier. Rather than focusing on enhancing technology for scanning and inspecting official border crossings, the Department of Homeland Security allocated funds to construct a border wall. In Tijuana, Mexico, the largest hub for fentanyl trafficking into the United States, a wave of overdoses, violence, and homicides has erupted as local drug traffickers battle for control of the territory. Authorities are engaged in a constant struggle to seize drug labs and illicit substances, but the power of organized crime often exceeds that of the government. The warehouses where federal authorities store confiscated drugs fill up so rapidly that the substances must be incinerated in remote military areas to make room for new seizures.
While Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda have banned the importation of second-hand clothing from Europe and the United States, Ghana continues to welcome over 160 tons of fabric every day. However, only 30% of these textiles are being resold, while the rest ends up in sewers, polluting beaches, and causing harm to the environment and wildlife. Due to the lack of adequate landfill sites and incinerators, this is creating an unprecedented ecological disaster. Scientists are warning that the impact on human health and the environment will surpass even the pollution caused by plastic.
Droughts over the past 50 years and deforestation are driving the Pantanal, the world’s largest floodplain, toward desertification, putting one of Earth’s major biomes at risk. The water body located along the Transpantaneira highway, which typically houses hundreds of healthy caimans even during the region’s annual dry season, was severely affected by the intensified drought. This time, the caimans appeared huddled together, dehydrated, and malnourished. After assessing various rescue options, the Animal Rescue Group in Disasters (GRAD) carried out the relocation of more than 65 individuals in critical condition, in one of the largest rescue operations ever seen in the Pantanal.
In the four months following the death of Mahsa (Jina) Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman who was beaten by the Iranian morality police for not wearing her hijab properly, hundreds of thousands of Iranians at home and abroad have been protesting against the Islamic State regime. Women have taken the lead in the protests, and Iranians of all ages, regions, trades, and ethnicities have united in the cause. In London, thousands of Iranians have joined both small and large demonstrations, marches, and performances, with some participating on a daily basis.
Animals today live in the Anthropocene, which is the proposed name for the current geologic epoch, signifying human planetary domination. We are an inescapable force. The animals in this series are those with whom we have a close relationship and yet so often fail to consider or see. There is an emerging genre of photography called animal photojournalism, which aims to emphasize the inclusion of all animals, particularly those historically underrepresented. It acknowledges their beinghood and brings their stories to light, highlighting how they are intertwined with other important stories of our time, such as climate change, human rights, and stories of hope, healing, and progress.
A group of courageous Iranian Kurdish women managed to escape to Iraq, embarking on a challenging and perilous journey through the mountains, and sought refuge in the Kurdish Komala party’s military organization, which fights against the Teheran regime in exile. After the protests over the death of Masha Amini, the party headquarters faced a devastating attack by 12 kamikaze drones launched from Iran, thankfully without any casualties. In the portraits of the young female soldiers, their hair emerges from the veil in a wild and disheveled manner as if affirming their will to exist as free individuals and express their beauty.
Desolation and despair are widespread across cities and villages throughout Ukraine, from Irpin to Bucha, Bashtanka to Mykolaiv, Zalyssia to Kharkiv, and countless other places. The country has been ravaged by a war it did not initiate, and now many are left without shelter or food, disconnected from communication networks. People of all ages have died needlessly. On February 24, before the sun had even risen, Ukraine’s second-largest city was already being shaken by the sound of shelling. The Russian army occupied the outskirts of Kiev for almost 40 days, and many horrors have been uncovered since their retreat from places like Bucha, Irpin, and Borodyanka.
Mental health issues in Africa are often considered as something inhumane, distant, and even dangerous, especially in the countries of the Northwest, where voodoo healers bind individuals with mental illnesses to trees, believing them to be possessed by demons. However, there are extraordinary individuals like Grégoire Ahongbonon, who has been dedicated for twenty years to freeing the sick and restoring their dignity through the shelters he founded. In the African continent, the number of people affected by mental disorders and their locations remain unknown, as they often get lost in cities or remote villages.
East Sand Island at the mouth of the Columbia River has long been home to the largest nesting colony of double-crested cormorants in North America, until recently. Cormorants are master fishers, and fear over their appetite for endangered salmon puts them in the crosshairs of commercial fisheries. A culling campaign enacted in 2015 killed thousands of cormorants and caused the colony to collapse. The remaining cormorants fled the island, only to take up residence on the Astoria-Megler Bridge in the middle of downtown Astoria. This story dives into the lives of the cormorants, which are actually highly social, intelligent birds, expertly adapted to life in the air, on land, and beneath the sea in both urban and wild environments.
Choppa Community gun range has become a place for African American gun owners and others to assemble to learn gun safety, self-defense and have a place to target practice. Many are from nearby Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD and have been affected by gun violence. The rates of gun related crimes in large metropolitan cities across the United States has been on the rise. This has caused many people to obtain guns as a means of personal protection.
The author's grandparents settled in the mining basin of Asturias, in Spain, in the 1950s, a time when coal mining was the engine of economic development in the region. Her father grew up in these narrow valleys surrounded by mountains, where the river ran black and the sound of the siren announced the descent of the workers into the depths of the Earth. From 1985 began a great cycle of general strikes intended to prevent the industrial desertification of the mining basins. Despite this movement, Spain's entry into the European Economic Community triggered the countdown to the definitive closure of the mines. In 2023, the San Nicolás mine will cease its activity, sealing the end of the history of coal in Spain.
At the end of a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the metal music festival Copenhell can once again open its gates to four days of revelry at a decommissioned shipyard in the harbor of Copenhagen. Thirty-five thousand metal heads leave masks and hand sanitizer behind and party hard without fear of close physical contact. The party really comes into its own in the pit – this is where the music becomes physical movement, and all energies are let loose. Mosh pit. Circle pit. Wall of Death. Headbanging. Crowd surfing. These are some of the esoteric names of the revelries that are sometimes indistinguishable from a giant fist fight.
The Upper East Side of Manhattan is considered New York City’s most affluent neighborhood. White-glove buildings, designer boutiques, Museum Mile and ladies who lunch are some of the images associated with UES. The area covers 59th to 96th street from the East River to Central Park cut by avenues such as Park, Madison and Fifth. Most of the subjects have lived here for years and would not dream of leaving. When asked how they wanted to be photographed, the responses were astonishing: naked, dressed like a maharaja, in bed, etc. People just wanted to have fun! This series depicts a microcosm of life on the Upper East Side in New York City.
For thousands of years, Vancouver Island, an island 1/3 the length of Canada’s Pacific coast, was the home of the Tla-o-qui-aht. They controlled who lived there and who was a citizen. From the 18th century, European invaders sought to strip away that control. The Tla-o-qui-aht resisted fiercely and constantly, for decades. Today, central Vancouver Island is again under Tla-o-qui-aht control. To Indigenous people the word 'sovereignty' means more than self-rule. It is shorthand for a vision of Native societies as autonomous cultures, controlling the environment around them, part of the modern world but fully rooted in their own long- standing values, working as equal partners with local, state, and federal governments.
Ten years ago, a year and a half after Masoumeh Ataiee divorced her husband, her father-in-law attacked her with acid. She lost her face, lost her sight due to acid spraying, and had to forgive her father-in-law to save her young son's life while her mother-in-law threatened to attack him with acid. Now, ten years later, she is working as a model with jewelry manufacturers and fashion designers and is doing her best to collect 70,000 GBP by appearing and telling her life story on Instagram. The sum corresponds to the money she needs to pay for traveling to the UK and her eye surgery expenses to regain her sight and see her son again.