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National Geographic

8 Amazing Animal Photos from National Geographic's Your Shot Community

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National Geographic

For its latest Your Shot assignment, called "The Animals We Love," National Geographic is asking readers to show their passion for the creatures we share the world with. "This assignment is about ... photographing from the heart," Robin Schwartz, Fine Art/Editorial Photographer and curator of the assignment, said in the prompt. "Your approach can range from creating an intimate portrait that communicates the distinct personality of an animal to photographing your observations of an animal within a landscape, on the street, in parks, or in zoos." The assignment wraps up June 23; here are 10 incredible images readers have submitted so far.

1. Baby Elephant


Photo and caption by Julia Cumes, National Geographic Your Shot

"I met this baby elephant while documenting a baby elephant rehabilitation/release program in Assam, India. He had lost his mother in a flood. I spent a lot of time with him and became quite attached. When I finally had to leave, I turned around one more time to look at the building that housed him and saw he had got up on his hind legs and was looking out the window at me. His expression was so strikingly human in that moment and I saw in his eyes something universal and profoundly expressive."

2. The Cat and the Rat


Photo and caption by Meg Kumin, National Geographic Your Shot

"Perhaps our cat Sonic was just too old, or too lazy to care about primal instinct.  Or perhaps, Rosy the Rat was too blind, or too naive to worry about fear.  Or perhaps ... there are no rules when it comes to love within a family."

3. What Does the Fox Say?


Photo and caption by E. Sanchez, National Geographic Your Shot

"I am a big fan of foxes and when I had the chance to rescue a female cub (she is the second one, the other one is male), I could not resist. In this picture she is about 12 weeks old. She is living in the house and when she will be big enough I will move her to the outside cage where the other fox is living. She had three brothers and by now most probably they are not having a good time as she has if they are alive at all.  I know what most people think: she should live in the wild."

4. Cat Carriage

Photo and caption by Juan Fontaine, National Geographic Your Shot

"Cat lover carrying his pets through the Hiroshima streets."

5. Oh, Deer

Photo and caption by Juan Fontaine, National Geographic Your Shot

"In the surroundings of Kyoto you can find the village of Nara. In it, all temples and parks are loaded with wild and free deer. You can touch and feed them. It's amazing the respect and care people here have with both animals and plants.

"In this picture you can see a group of students visiting one of the main temples in the city sharing with the deer as if they were another of their classmates."

6. Holy Cow

Photo and caption by Henrik Kaarsholm, National Geographic Your Shot

"Having a sick cow in the herd affects any farmer deeply and even though this farmer has over 400 head of cattle, he can quickly asses which are sick and bring these out for treatment—he knows every single one, he raised every one of them. To calm his cows during treatment, he sits on it."

7. Bottle-fed Fish

Photo and caption by StÈphanie Amaudruz, National Geographic Your Shot

"In Asia, it is a common sight to see people feed golden fishes like we feed pigeons in Europe—the idea is to create harmonious shapes by throwing food in chosen spots—or to have fun. Babybottle fish feeding is a popular attraction.

8. A Horse is a Horse

Photo and caption by Byron Inggs, National Geographic Your Shot

"On arrival at Jonathan's Lodge in Sehlabathebe National Park, Lesotho, our horses took to celebrating liberation from their burdens. With the backdrop of 'The Devil's Knuckles' and the afternoon’s glow how could I not take advantage? Up close using Canon's EF 10-22mm wide angle."

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Sylke Rohrlach, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0
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Animals
Scientists Discover 'Octlantis,' a Bustling Octopus City
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Sylke Rohrlach, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

Octopuses are insanely talented: They’ve been observed building forts, playing games, and even walking on dry land. But one area where the cephalopods come up short is in the social department. At least that’s what marine biologists used to believe. Now a newly discovered underwater community, dubbed Octlantis, is prompting scientists to call their characterization of octopuses as loners into question.

As Quartz reports, the so-called octopus city is located in Jervis Bay off Australia’s east coast. The patch of seafloor is populated by as many as 15 gloomy octopuses, a.k.a. common Sydney octopuses (octopus tetricus). Previous observations of the creatures led scientists to think they were strictly solitary, not counting their yearly mating rituals. But in Octlantis, octopuses communicate by changing colors, evict each other from dens, and live side by side. In addition to interacting with their neighbors, the gloomy octopuses have helped build the infrastructure of the city itself. On top of the rock formation they call home, they’ve stored mounds of clam and scallop shells and shaped them into shelters.

There is one other known gloomy octopus community similar to this one, and it may help scientists understand how and why they form. The original site, called Octopolis, was discovered in the same bay in 2009. Unlike Octlantis, Octopolis was centered around a manmade object that had sunk to the seabed and provided dens for up to 16 octopuses at a time. The researchers studying it had assumed it was a freak occurrence. But this new city, built around a natural habitat, shows that gloomy octopuses in the area may be evolving to be more social.

If that's the case, it's unclear why such octo-cities are so uncommon. "Relative to the more typical solitary life, the costs and benefits of living in aggregations and investing in interactions remain to be documented," the researchers who discovered the group wrote in a paper published in Marine and Freshwater Behavior and Physiology [PDF].

It’s also possible that for the first time in history humans have the resources to see octopus villages that perhaps have always been bustling beneath the sea surface.

[h/t Quartz]

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This Just In
Criminal Gangs Are Smuggling Illegal Rhino Horns as Jewelry
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iStock

Valuable jewelry isn't always made from precious metals or gems. Wildlife smugglers in Africa are increasingly evading the law by disguising illegally harvested rhinoceros horns as wearable baubles and trinkets, according to a new study conducted by wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.

As BBC News reports, TRAFFIC analyzed 456 wildlife seizure records—recorded between 2010 and June 2017—to trace illegal rhino horn trade routes and identify smuggling methods. In a report, the organization noted that criminals have disguised rhino horns in the past using all kinds of creative methods, including covering the parts with aluminum foil, coating them in wax, or smearing them with toothpaste or shampoo to mask the scent of decay. But as recent seizures in South Africa suggest, Chinese trafficking networks within the nation are now concealing the coveted product by shaping horns into beads, disks, bangles, necklaces, and other objects, like bowls and cups. The protrusions are also ground into powder and stored in bags along with horn bits and shavings.

"It's very worrying," Julian Rademeyer, a project leader with TRAFFIC, told BBC News. "Because if someone's walking through the airport wearing a necklace made of rhino horn, who is going to stop them? Police are looking for a piece of horn and whole horns."

Rhino horn is a hot commodity in Asia. The keratin parts have traditionally been ground up and used to make medicines for illnesses like rheumatism or cancer, although there's no scientific evidence that these treatments work. And in recent years, horn objects have become status symbols among wealthy men in countries like Vietnam.

"A large number of people prefer the powder, but there are those who use it for lucky charms,” Melville Saayman, a professor at South Africa's North-West University who studies the rhino horn trade, told ABC News. “So they would like a piece of the horn."

According to TRAFFIC, at least 1249 rhino horns—together weighing more than five tons—were seized globally between 2010 and June 2017. The majority of these rhino horn shipments originated in southern Africa, with the greatest demand coming from Vietnam and China. The product is mostly smuggled by air, but routes change and shift depending on border controls and law enforcement resources.

Conservationists warn that this booming illegal trade has led to a precipitous decline in Africa's rhinoceros population: At least 7100 of the nation's rhinos have been killed over the past decade, according to one estimate, and only around 25,000 remain today. Meanwhile, Save the Rhino International, a UK-based conservation charity, told BBC News that if current poaching trends continue, rhinos could go extinct in the wild within the next 10 years.

[h/t BBC News]

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