Photo by @erintrieb / The U.S. military’s ongoing withdrawal from Afghanistan, set to be completed by September 11, is raising the stakes for thousands of Afghans who worked alongside American troops and who are still waiting on their SIVs (special immigration visa). The SIV program originated in 2009 to assist Afghans with U.S. immigration, but it039;s been plagued by a lengthy vetting process and changing politics in Washington. While 16,000 Afghan SIVs have been issued to date, 18,000 applications are currently backlogged. They cover a total of 53,000 individuals, including applicant family members. By law, an SIV application should be processed within nine months, but it often takes up to five years. SIV applications also are often denied without explanation. During the wait, thousands of allies remain vulnerable, facing persistent threats from the Taliban and also even from family members for their collaboration with the United States. Sakhidad Afghan was 19 when he started working as an interpreter for the U.S. military in 2009. In his first year, he saw combat with the Marines in the Battle of Marjah, and he remained an interpreter until the fall of 2014, when American troops drew down and his job disappeared. By then he’d received an anonymous death threat over the phone, so he applied for an SIV to live in the United States. He’d been in the pipeline for three years when, in March 2015, he was tortured, killed, and left by the side of the road. He was 24. A letter bearing the Taliban flag was found stuffed into his pants pocket. It warned that three of his brothers, who also worked for coalition forces, were in for the same fate. Pictured here, one of them, who worked as a driver, mourns Sakhidad’s death at his gravesite, near Kabul. Sakhidad’s parents say neither the U.S. military nor the U.S. government attempted to make reparations to the family after Sakhidad’s death. For more stories from Afghanistan, follow @erintrieb.
Photo by @celestesloman / Portrait of Cutter Cruz, 18, football teammate and friend of Kooper Davis, who died by suicide in 2020. In February I had the privilege of documenting this devastating and humbling story, "The Lost Year: What the Pandemic Cost Teenagers," which speaks to the emotional toll of the pandemic on young people in the community of Hobbs, New Mexico.
Photo by @PaulNicklen / In the small town of Qaanaaq, Greenland, sled dogs outnumber the human population by nearly two to one. They are nimble on the sea ice and far quieter than snowmobiles, which tend to scare away the wildlife Inuit hunters depend on. This is my tribute to these furry engines of the far north. Follow me @PaulNicklen for a closer look at what it takes to endure life in the unforgiving Arctic. #dogs #sleddogs #husky #huskies #pack #qaanaaq #Greenland #Arctic #wellbehaved #EnginesOfTheNorth
Photos by @carltonward / This week marked the completion of the Kissimmee River restoration in the Florida Everglades—the largest successful river restoration project in history. The river connects Lake Kissimmee to Lake Okeechobee, in the heart of the northern Everglades. Once meandering 102 miles (164 km), with a floodplain three miles (five km) wide, the river was converted into a 30-foot-deep (9 m) straight canal in the 1960s. Draining the land also destroyed the wetland ecosystem, cut the waterfowl population by 90 percent, and sped up the flow of nutrient-polluted water from the edge of Orlando into Lake Okeechobee. Restoration work began in 1999 to return flow to 44 miles (70 km) of the river039;s historic channel and revive much of the original floodplain. These recent photos show the newly meandering river amid wetlands that are once again cleaning water as it flows south to the Everglades. The second photo shows the scar of the drainage canal (upper left) that has been filled back in. The landscape of the Kissimmee River Valley is a vital component of the Florida Wildlife Corridor, a swath that supports endangered species and provides the next frontier for the northward recovery of the Florida panther. While the Kissimmee River Restoration Project took 20 years and $1 billion to complete, it shows that restoration can work. It also provides a cautionary tale of the effectiveness in proactively conserving ecosystems rather than facing far the greater expense and challenge of restoring systems after they are damaged. The @PathofthePanther project is supported by @insidenatgeo. Please see links and @carltonward for more.
Photo by @iantehphotography / The sea glows as phosphorescent waves surge toward the Vietnamese island of Phú Quốc, off the coast of Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand. Bioluminescent plankton shimmers in the water like tiny, suspended stars. When I first visited the island, with its white sand beaches and resorts, it was undergoing significant development for the tourist industry. But half of the island remains part of Phú Quốc National Park, an area of mountains, dense tropical jungle, hiking trails, and wildlife. Follow me on @iantehphotography to see more images and stories from around the world. #phuquoc #vietnam #bioluminescence #phospherescence
Photo by @amivitale / Hilary Zaranek rides her horse at the J Bar L Ranch. Hilary is a National Geographic Explorer and an extraordinary woman who founded a range-rider program in the Tom Miner Basin, which borders Yellowstone National Park. She studies bear and wolf behavior, tracks wildlife, and moves cattle through daily to create a better understanding among landowners and cattle managers. Please follow @amivitale for more stories about our connections with nature. @thephotosociety #montana #riding #horses #bigskycountry #amivitale #empathyiseverything
Photo by @paoloverzone / Manuel Fernandez Mercado, a biologist and lab technician at Barcelona039;s Institute Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont, holds a slice of a deer tibia fossil found at Can Mata. Can Mata is the largest active landfill in the Catalonia region of Spain, and it keeps growing. And each expansion—supervised by a team that includes paleontologists—offers access to finds deep underground that would otherwise be out of reach. Can Mata holds fascinating fossils from about 11.2 million to 12.5 million years ago, including species of ancient primates found nowhere else in the world. Paleontologists have been monitoring the dump’s expansion since 2002. Follow @paoloverzone for more photos and stories.
Photo by @stephenwilkes / During 20 hours of photographing the volcano Fagradalshraun, I developed a sense of its eruption rhythms. In a way it reminded me of my experience photographing Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park. This was a bit hotter and larger, and rather than steam it was shooting out tons of molten lava. It was a never-ending light show. To see more from my travels near and far follow me @stephenwilkes. #iceland #volcano #eruption #lightshow #fujigfx100
Photos by @carltonward / This sequence from the @PathofthePanther project shows Florida panthers, black bears, deer, turkey, and an alligator using a wildlife underpass beneath Interstate 75 (aka "alligator alley") between Naples and Miami. Well, the alligator is just crossing from one canal to another. The other animals crossed safely under the highway, leaving Picayune Strand State Forest and entering Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge to the north. Our team monitored this underpass with photo and video cameras for multiple years. It039;s remarkable how well these wildlife crossing structures work. There are 30 or more under this stretch of I-75. Tall fencing along the highway funnels wildlife to the crossings, nearly eliminating roadkill of large animals while making driving safer for motorists. I wonder how many drivers know bears and panthers could be crossing beneath them. For wildlife crossings to work, there needs to be permanently protected corridors of wildlife habitat on both sides of the road. I walked through this same wildlife underpass in 2012, during an expedition in which our team trekked a thousand miles (1,500 km) and a hundred days to draw attention to the wildlife corridor connecting the Everglades to Georgia. Now that the panther population is expanding into its historic territory in the northern Everglades, conserving the Florida Wildlife Corridor is their best hope of continuing their northward recovery. To learn more about the newly designated Florida Wildlife Corridor, please read the article by @douglas_main (link in bio) and please follow me @CarltonWard and @PathofthePanther.
Video by @joelsartore / A female common marmoset and her baby regard me with curiosity during a Photo Ark shoot @unomaha. Females of this species typically give birth to a set of nonidentical twins, though triplets or single infants are not unheard of. Because nursing their young requires a tremendous amount of energy, marmosets have adapted to having offspring during times of the year when food is abundant—either at the end of the dry season or the end of the rainy season. To see more species featured in the Photo Ark, follow me @joelsartore. #marmoset #primate #monkey #mom #baby #photoark
Photo by @michaelchristopherbrown / The 114th annual parade and fireworks celebration was held on July 4, 2021, at Huntington Beach, California. The event is billed as the largest Independence Day celebration west of the Mississippi.