Photo by williamodaniels | Trees in the forest of Mount Morungole in Uganda, on the border of Kenya and South Sudan. Even at an altitude of 2,500 meters, this virgin forest has been impacted by human presence, scientists say. In 2016, as part of an assignment for the magazine, I followed a group of American and Ugandan researchers on Morungole as they undertook a biodiversity inventory of vertebrates and symbionts. Follow me on williamodaniels for more human stories around the world.

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Photos by babaktafreshi | This impressive Maya temple in Tikal is called the Great Jaguar, and you can hear the big cat if you spend enough time in this jungle at night. Protected in a national park in Guatemala, jaguars freely roam around the temples after dark, when tourists have departed. When I visited recently with special permission to document the site at night, the tropical sky had cleared after thunderstorms. Taurus (the bull) and the Pleiades star cluster (also known as the Seven Sisters) were rising above the 47-meter (154 feet) pyramid, which dates to 750 A.D. There are both old stories and new studies on the importance of the Pleiades to the Maya (swipe for a closer view). One myth is that the people of Tikal believed they came from Pleiades, and the seven important pyramids of the Grand Plaza in Tikal represent the pattern of Pleiades. There is no doubt that some Maya pyramids were built to reflect astronomical events, and from atop Tikal’s pyramids, perhaps ancient astronomers tracked the movements of celestial objects, keeping time for rituals and agriculture. The Maya calendar was one of the most advanced of the ancient world, thanks to astronomical observations. When Pleiades rises at sunset and is visible for the entire night in November, that’s when the dry season and harvesting begin. Tikal is one of the largest sites of Maya civilization, and at its peak was home to at least 60,000 Maya. Explore more of the world at night with me babaktafreshi.

21 views · Apr 23rd

Photos by nicholesobecki | Meet Karlos and Ivana, two of the lion cubs rescued from South Africa’s Pienika Farm in April. The cubs are slowly recuperating under the nurturing hand of University of Minnesota neurology Ph.D. candidate Jessica Burkhart, who’s in charge of the cubs’ physical therapy at Old Chapel Veterinary Clinic. Veterinarian Peter Caldwell told us that at the time of their removal, the cubs “were in severe, excruciating pain … They were screaming like little babies almost.” Ivana had been near death. Three months of around-the-clock care have helped the cubs recover, but they’ll never heal completely. For this National Geographic investigation writer rachelfobar and I were invited to Pienika, the controversial South African lion breeding farms that also offers sport hunts—and where Karlos and Ivana were born. Follow me nicholesobecki for updates, outtakes, and more. Story link in my bio.

25 views · Apr 23rd

Photo by paulnicklen | The narwhal is one of the most elusive and mysterious mammals in the Arctic. In this photo, they jockeyed for position to catch a breath of air during a polar-cod feeding frenzy. Ever since I was a kid growing up in the Canadian Arctic, I have always been fascinated by the unicorns of the sea. I had returned to the Canadian Arctic for eight years before capturing this moment. Follow me PaulNicklen for more images that document the intimacy between wildlife and their environment.

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More from National Geographic

Photos by babaktafreshi | This impressive Maya temple in Tikal is called the Great Jaguar, and you can hear the big cat if you spend enough time in this jungle at night. Protected in a national park in Guatemala, jaguars freely roam around the temples after dark, when tourists have departed. When I visited recently with special permission to document the site at night, the tropical sky had cleared after thunderstorms. Taurus (the bull) and the Pleiades star cluster (also known as the Seven Sisters) were rising above the 47-meter (154 feet) pyramid, which dates to 750 A.D. There are both old stories and new studies on the importance of the Pleiades to the Maya (swipe for a closer view). One myth is that the people of Tikal believed they came from Pleiades, and the seven important pyramids of the Grand Plaza in Tikal represent the pattern of Pleiades. There is no doubt that some Maya pyramids were built to reflect astronomical events, and from atop Tikal’s pyramids, perhaps ancient astronomers tracked the movements of celestial objects, keeping time for rituals and agriculture. The Maya calendar was one of the most advanced of the ancient world, thanks to astronomical observations. When Pleiades rises at sunset and is visible for the entire night in November, that’s when the dry season and harvesting begin. Tikal is one of the largest sites of Maya civilization, and at its peak was home to at least 60,000 Maya. Explore more of the world at night with me babaktafreshi.

21 views · Apr 23rd

Photos by nicholesobecki | Meet Karlos and Ivana, two of the lion cubs rescued from South Africa’s Pienika Farm in April. The cubs are slowly recuperating under the nurturing hand of University of Minnesota neurology Ph.D. candidate Jessica Burkhart, who’s in charge of the cubs’ physical therapy at Old Chapel Veterinary Clinic. Veterinarian Peter Caldwell told us that at the time of their removal, the cubs “were in severe, excruciating pain … They were screaming like little babies almost.” Ivana had been near death. Three months of around-the-clock care have helped the cubs recover, but they’ll never heal completely. For this National Geographic investigation writer rachelfobar and I were invited to Pienika, the controversial South African lion breeding farms that also offers sport hunts—and where Karlos and Ivana were born. Follow me nicholesobecki for updates, outtakes, and more. Story link in my bio.

25 views · Apr 23rd

Photo by paulnicklen | The narwhal is one of the most elusive and mysterious mammals in the Arctic. In this photo, they jockeyed for position to catch a breath of air during a polar-cod feeding frenzy. Ever since I was a kid growing up in the Canadian Arctic, I have always been fascinated by the unicorns of the sea. I had returned to the Canadian Arctic for eight years before capturing this moment. Follow me PaulNicklen for more images that document the intimacy between wildlife and their environment.

47 views · Apr 23rd