Learn more about our impactLearn more about our impact
WWF works to sustain the natural world for the benefit of people and wildlife, collaborating with partners from local to global levels in nearly 100 countries.
BAHIA :: BRAZIL
Brazil’s Atlantic Forest is home to many species that are difficult to photograph: the cougar, the harpy eagle, the elusive jaguar. The three-toed sloth, in comparison, should have been an easy subject—sloths are slow-moving creatures that spend their lives in tree canopies, munching on leaves and napping. When you spot one, you have time to think. Still, getting this shot had its challenges.
I knew what I wanted to capture: the animal in the foreground with the whole forest vista in the background—a sloth in its native habitat, not in isolation. To do this, I had to get to eye level with the animal and close enough to use a short lens. In other words, I had to climb.
I was lucky to spot this particular sloth about 20 feet up in an embaúba, a tree sloths often live in because they love to eat its leaves and buds. Using a rope and ladder, I began to scale the tree.
But another creature lives in these trees, too: Azteca ants. They survive on the trees’ nectar and protect the trees by ambushing unwelcome predators. And unlike sloths, ants are fast. Before I knew it, thousands were crawling over me and my equipment, biting my arms and legs. Amid this surprise attack, I got the sloth in view and captured the shot I had in mind. And then I scrambled back down at a speed unavailable to my subject.