Searching for dragons

My first taste of the Drakensberg, the Dragon Mountains. A long weekend of snow and sunshine, hiking between towers of rock, sleeping in caves, bouldering and climbing on sketchy sandstone (“Jack and the Beanstalk”, 5 pitches, 17/5b).

Some pictures.

Impressions of South Africa

Cumberland natural reserve.

Cumberland natural reserve.

I flew to South Africa on May 6th, 2016. This is my second time in the country. The first time was back in 2014, for a short visit in the area around Cape Town and Stellenbosch. I came for a conference and I stayed a few more days, for a walk in the Fynbos, some wine tasting, a cage-dive with white sharks, a hike up Table Mountain. This time I am in Pietermaritzburg, and I will stick around for a while longer: I got a research position for three years. Continue reading

Plant-Pollinator Porn

Here is a selection of pictures by Christian Ziegler, naturalist and photojournalist for National Geographic. They depict animal-flower interactions in general, not only pollination events. And porn is in the eyes of the viewer, as well as in the eye of the maker. But Plant-Pollinator Porn makes a better acronym, so I’ll stick to that.

Today, I will post about orchids and their pollination. The orchid family is the largest plant family with some 28000 to 32000 species, and all species have highly specialized pollinators. In some cases it is a bees (as seen here in Panama), in other cases birds, beetles, ants, flies and so on… but they all depend on these highly specialized interactions to guarantee pollination and future reproduction. These pictures are taken from my book ‘Deceptive Beauties: The World of Wild Orchids’ @thephotosociety @natgeo @natgeocreative #Wpph16 My name is Christian Ziegler (@christianziegler) – I am a photojournalist for National Geographic. I’m taking over World Press Photo for the next 5 days, during which I will share my favorite images from different stories. I hope to amaze you with the beauty and diversity of the natural world, and to inspire people to care about conservation.

A photo posted by World Press Photo Foundation (@worldpressphoto) on

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Formica-Euphorbia: ambiguous interactions

ant-euphorbiaI photographed this ant hanging on a Euphorbia flower in Bellwald, Switzerland. The ant probably belongs to the genus Formica, and the plant seems E. cyparissias.
Since my time in Madagascar I pay much more attention to flowers and pollinators than I used to do. I guessed that the ant was probably foraging on the flowers, but the pollen grains on its head and abdomen suggested that it could also act as a pollinator: what was it then, herbivore or pollinator? “Good” interactor or “bad” interactor? Continue reading