Chris Eckstrom

Chris Eckstrom is a videographer and writer whose work celebrates the wonders of the natural world.

21 posts 46,948 followers 32 following

In a forest in Senegal, a first-time mother chimp named Nickel takes a midday siesta with her newborn baby, Teva, while a young male named Mike edges in close to them, kissing Teva’s ear and stroking her head. Mike was really drawn to baby Teva and he was tolerated by her mother as well. Here a moment of tender affection softens the lines that separate us from our closest cousins on the tree of life. Early in my career I was inspired by Jane Goodall and her work with chimpanzees—and I still am. Please check the @NatGeo Channel to see the wonderful film about her, “JANE.” Follow me @ChristineEckstrom and @FransLanting for more videos about our closest cousins on the tree of life.
@ThePhotoSociety @NatGeoCreative #Chimps #Apes #Baby #Empathy #Tenderness #NaturePhotography #NeighborApe #JANE #JaneGoodallInstitute


In celebration of International Women’s Day, I want to honor the work of women conservationists around the world who are working to protect the wild places that nourish our spirits and the wild animals that open our hearts. Today I want to shine a light on one remarkable person, Kris Tompkins. For more than two decades, she and her late husband, Doug Tompkins, acquired wildlife habitat in Patagonia with the aim to protect the land for its intrinsic natural value and ultimately, to gift these wild places to the people of Chile and Argentina. A month ago, Kris made their dream come true. She signed an agreement with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to expand the country’s national park system by an astonishing ten million acres—a combination of private lands donated by Tompkins Conservation and federal lands committed by Chile. Doug believed that the beauty we see in wild places would help save the world. Kris believes that their gift is an act of democracy: A country’s natural masterpieces should be protected for the common good. I love her for this, and the wild animals who inhabit these beautiful lands are her most important beneficiaries. Follow us @ChristineEckstrom and @FransLanting for more stories of hope.
Photo of Kris Tompkins and Chris Eckstrom by @FransLanting

@tompkins_conservation @natgeocreative @thephotosociety @leonardodicapriofdn @leonardodicaprio #chile #patagoniaconservation #InternationalWomensDay #NatGeoWomen #PressforProgress #IWD2018 #inspiration #empowerment @kristine_tompkins


Here are some impressions from an albatross colony—and listen to the sounds they make! The braying moans are the display calls of black-browed albatrosses on remote Campbell Island, midway between New Zealand and Antarctica. They’re in the midst of their breeding season and the adults are soaring out to sea to bring fish and squid back to their hungry chicks, who look like white balls of fluff perched on mud pedestal nests. Some of the birds swirling above the colony may be young albatrosses returning to land for the first time after fledging here four years ago, and they’re trying to figure out where to go. Eventually they will court and find a mate—and build a nest of their own. Follow @ChristineEckstrom and @FransLanting for more stories from the seabird cities of the Southern Ocean.

@natgeocreative @thephotosociety #Albatross #YearoftheBird #Seabirds #NewZealand #Antarctica #nature #babybird #flight #wings



Look at the size of this albatross next to Frans Lanting! Albatross courtship involves a dance during which a male and a female have to be in sync all the time. Mastery of the dance requires lots of practice and that is what these young Royal albatrosses are doing. They are all born with a basic knowledge of the dance, but they will only succeed in attracting a mate if they can perform the ritual with vigor and self assurance—and if they are sensitive to their partner’s moves. As the late Duke Ellington once said, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.” These young Royals have gathered like teenagers to practice courtship in a group; they’ve got the energy and the motivation, but they lack the finesse that is needed to woo a mate. When two birds get more serious about each other they will sneak away as potential pairs and fend off interlopers. It’s an amazing ritual to watch. Follow me @ChristineEckstrom and @FransLanting for more stories about albatrosses and other wonders of nature.

@natgeocreative @thephotosociety #Albatross #Seabird #NewZealand #Antarctica #Amazing #YearoftheBird #Wildlife #Courtship


“Love Birds” Albatross courtship is an intimate affair. These graceful seabirds live as long as we do and they mate for life after a spectacular dance ritual. They’re dependent on the open ocean and on tiny specks of land where they come ashore to find a partner. These two Royal albatrosses on New Zealand’s Campbell Island are in an advanced state of courtship, which involves much nibbling and grooming back and forth. I offer this video in celebration of this Valentine’s Day in the Year of the Bird. Follow me @ChristineEckstrom and @FransLanting to see more of these remarkable seabirds.
@Nategeocreative @Thephotosociety #valentinesday #courtship #albatross #Yearofthebird #love #grace #newzealand #seabird #sanctuary


Elephants have a remarkable sense of themselves—and of us. It helps them navigate through the precarious landscapes where their traditional movements intersect with our modern infrastructure. Finding solutions for conflicts between elephants and people in places where they share space is a huge challenge.
Here’s the story behind this video: Elephants love the fruits of wild mango trees and when they ripen in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley, one elephant family was used to visiting a favorite tree behind a safari lodge. When the reception area was expanded, the route to the tree was blocked. The lodge owners thought that the elephants would just go elsewhere, because there were many other mango trees around. But the elephants decided otherwise and took their traditional path, which now leads straight through the new reception area.
Who do you think has the right of way? Follow us @FransLanting and @ChristineEckstrom for more stories about the entwined destinies of animals and humans on a crowded planet.
@natgeocreative @thephotosociety @leonardodicaprio #SaveTheElephants #Elephants #Zambia #Africa #Safari #Wildlife #Conservation



“Ivory is for Elephants” I share this image by @FransLanting of two magnificent bull elephants in the mist in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater in recognition of Hong Kong’s decision to phase out elephant ivory sales by 2021. It is a great gift to elephants and to all of us who care about their survival. It follows the Chinese government's ban on ivory sales in 2018, by the terms of an agreement made between President Xi Jinping and President Obama in 2015. Let’s make sure the current US administration holds up its side of the bargain and does not reopen the import of elephant ivory and other body parts from Zambia and Zimbabwe. We salute the organizations who are banding together with their counterparts in Asia to champion the case for elephants. Our gratitude goes to @SaveTheElephants, to @WildAid, and to the World Wildlife Fund’s global network. I hope you will add your support to these groups because there is a lot more hard work ahead. The ivory trade is moving from China and Hong Kong to Laos and Vietnam, where it needs to get stopped. Follow me @ChristineEckstrom and @FransLanting for more intimate encounters with elephants in the places where they deserve to live in peace.

@natgeocreative @thephotosociety @Wild_Net @World_Wildlife @Leonardodicaprio @Leonardodicapriofdn #Elephants #Respect #Dignity #Respect #Conservation #Hope


Today was a great day for all of us who believe in the preservation of wilderness and wildlife. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, President and CEO of Tompkins Conservation, joined forces to create five new national parks in Chile and increase the size of three others with a historic ten million acre expansion of protected areas in Chilean Patagonia. This unprecedented partnership started with Kris and Doug Tompkins's private commitment to embrace the preservation of wilderness in Patagonia on a grand scale twenty years ago. It confirms what Margaret Mead once said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” We salute the Tompkins for their vision and thank them on behalf of the guanacos—and all the other wild creatures—who will now have a home in perpetuity in Patagonia Park, where @FransLanting stalked this family group of guanacos. Watch how they react when he lies down in front of them; instead of running away they approach him with wary curiosity. We have seen similar behavior by antelopes in Africa getting stalked by a cheetah in the open: They prefer to keep their eyes on adversaries and make it clear they won’t get surprised. When we work with animals, we try to think like them. It’s all about putting yourself in their position. Follow us @FransLanting and @ChristineEckstrom for more stories of hope about wildlife and wild places.
@Tompkins_conservation @Natgeocreative @Thephotosociety @Leonardodicapriofdn @LeonardodiCaprio #Chile #Conservation #Patagonia #NationalParks #ParquesNacionales #Celebrate #Inspire #Rewilding #Guanacos #Wildlifephotography #Empowerment


While on assignment for @NatGeo in Namibia, Frans Lanting and I used a concrete bunker sunk into the ground to capture eye-level coverage of elephants. I had just started to film a bull elephant through the bunker’s narrow slot when he got curious. He strode forward, reached into the the bunker, and started probing around with his trunk. Of course he knew we were there! He made my heart beat fast as I pulled my camera back, but he walked off with no harm done. You never know what may happen when you work with wild creatures. On Saturday January 27, Frans and I will talk about our three decades of fieldwork in Africa at a benefit event at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz, California. Check out the link in my bio for event info. And if you can't join us, follow us @FransLanting and @ChristineEckstrom for more intimate encounters with the animal world.
@thephotosociety #Africa #Elephants #Wild #Wildlife #Wildlifephotography #Nature #Explore



The annual gathering of king penguins on the beaches of South Georgia Island is one of the most phenomenal wildlife spectacles on the planet. For me it was very emotional to crouch in the surf near these amazing seabirds and watch them march into the waves, en masse, and swim off to find food for their chicks. It is an overwhelming sensation to be among king penguins and they are a vibrant affirmation of the abundance of the Southern Ocean on which they depend. Fisheries around South Georgia are well-regulated, but beyond the territorial limits of the island, a lot of work remains to be done to safeguard a future for king penguins and all other wildlife dependent on the frigid seas surrounding Antarctica. Follow us @ChristineEckstrom and @FransLanting for more videos, images, and stories from the Southern Ocean.

@natgeocreative @ThePhotoSociety #Antarctica #SouthGeorgia #Penguins #KingPenguins #SouthernOcean #wonder #naturephotography #amazing


Video by @FransLanting and @ChristineEckstrom No matter where you are and what you believe in, we wish you all Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Feliz Navidad, Prettige Feestdagen, Mirary Fety Sambatra, اجازة سعيدة, 節日快樂, Selamat Hari Raya, 幸せな休日, Furaha Likizo, छुट्टियां आनंददायक हों, 행복 휴일, تعطیلات شاد and we hope for more Peace for the Earth in the year to come. Follow us for stories about what we all have in common, our amazing living planet. @franslanting @thephotosociety #Holiday #Snow #Peace #Earth #Gratitude


Video by @ChristineEckstrom Residents of Santa Barbara are watching one of the largest wildfires in California history encroach upon their neighborhood. The intensity of a wildfire is hard to imagine if you have not experienced a blaze up close. This current wildfire is another indication that our planet is under pressure. California governor Jerry Brown has declared this fire a part of the “New Normal,” as our state is adapting to the consequences of climate change. More than eight thousand firefighters have been assembled to combat the fire. They are heroes when it comes to battling the flames, but we need a much bigger global force to address the root causes of this inferno. Check the hashtags below to learn how you can engage.

@franslanting @natgeocreative @thephotosociety #California #Wildfire #Climatechange #climatereality #stopclimatechange #leonardodicaprio



Video by @ChristineEckstrom and @FransLanting The fate of cheetahs as a species depends on a small number of females who are really good at nurturing cubs to independence and keeping them safe while doing so. They have to do this day after day without making any mistakes and accomplish that without help from males—cheetah moms are solitary providers. We call these exceptional females “supermoms”. Any mother who has to juggle child care with earning a living and other responsibilities, can appreciate that challenge. Watch how the mother in this video puts up with the antics of her cubs while scanning her surroundings for any sign of trouble. Only when her cubs lie down to suckle can she herself take a short cat nap. Cheetahs are amazing, even when they’re not running at top speed. I am posting this clip in recognition of NatGeo’s BigCat Week. Tune in to NG Channel’s cheetah film by Bob Poole tonight. Follow me @ChristineEckstrom for more stories from the wild world of cheetahs.

@natgeocreative @thephotosociety #cheetahs #wildlife #motherhood #family #joy #play #inspire #amazing


Here I am showing my chimp videos to Mboule Camara (at left) and his family, who live in a tiny village called Fongoli, in southeast Senegal. The village is adjacent to the forest where the chimps roam. Mboule, the village chief, became a friend while he assisted Frans Lanting and me during our coverage of Fongoli’s unusual chimp community for @natgeo. Researcher Jill Pruetz, Frans, and I all relied on Mboule’s incredible knowledge of the landscape around Fongoli—and his intuitive understanding of the chimps and their movements. We spoke to each other in rusty French, but we understood each other perfectly. He was fascinated when I showed him the videos of Fanta, the young chimp who played with her reflection, and of the males piling into the water hole together. Mboule passed away a few months ago, and we miss him. But we will always honor his memory and all that he shared with us.

@FransLanting @thephotosociety @natgeocreative #chimpanzees #Africa #sharing #wonder


Video by @Christine Eckstrom and @FransLanting Protein is hard to come by in the forest where chimps live in Senegal, and one important source for them is termites, which are plentiful here. To catch these nutritious insects, they go fishing in termite mounds, using a plant stem as a tool. They insert the stem and termites cling to it. Chimps learn this skill when they're young—and you can see in this video how 1-year-old Fanta is trying. We showed you before what happened when Fanta discovered water. Here, she watches how adults catch termites and tries to mimic them. She is not very good at it yet, but practice will make perfect. Follow me @ChristineEckstrom for more stories about chimps and other inhabitants of wild Africa.

@janegoodallinst #Chimps #Rootsandshoots #Family #Learning # Wonder



Video by @ChristineEckstrom and @FransLanting When the female chimp we knew as Farafa led her young infant, Fanta, to a secret water hole in a forest in Senegal, we witnessed something that made us wonder about the nature of chimps—and our connection to them. Fanta was just one year old and had never experienced a water hole before. While her mother watched, she explored the water’s surface at first with a leaf, but then she discovered her own reflection and began to interact with it, poking at it, making funny faces, and ultimately kissing herself, like a human child might do in front of a mirror. When we showed this video to Jane Goodall she was as enchanted by this display as we were. Fieldwork with chimps is hard, but being able to capture glimmers of insight about our fundamental kinship with chimps makes it all worthwhile. There are less than 200 chimps left in Senegal and their future hangs in the balance, just like it does for all chimps in Africa. As we gather together with family during this holiday season, let’s embrace our next of kin on the great tree of life. We can all help chimps survive by supporting the individuals and organizations that protect them and the forests they depend on. Follow me @ChristineEckstrom for more videos and stories of these unique chimps in Senegal.
@janegoodallinst @World_wildlife @conservationorg @racingextinction #Wildlife #Conservation #Chimps #Family #Play #Wonder #Gratitude #Thanksgiving


Usually we are behind the camera, but here is a rare look at both of us. When I met @FransLanting, he was a freelance photographer for @NatGeo Magazine and I was a staff writer at @NatGeo Books, but ever since we joined forces in life and work, we have combined our skills—and expanded them. While Frans creates photographs, I cover our subjects on video, so we can tell our stories using multiple media together. Our gear keeps evolving, but our mission has remained the same throughout the years: We want to share the wonders of our living planet at a time when its future is imperiled—and make a difference where we can. We’ve dedicated our lives to that. And we hope you can help us spread the message.

Sometimes our fieldwork involves lots of support, but when we tracked chimps in Senegal, we had to be minimalist. The chimps were shy and did not tolerate strangers besides the two of us, researcher Jill Pruetz—whose work was crucial to ours—and two local assistants, Mboule and Johnny Kante, who helped us greatly with tracking and carrying the heavy loads of gear we needed for long days in the forest from dawn till dusk. In this image we’re smiling for the camera, but if you look closely you’ll see our clothes are drenched in sweat. It takes teamwork to do what we do. You can catch a glimpse of an exhausted Johnny in one of our recently posted video clips. Mboule was a wonderful man and chief of the nearby village of Fongoli, who passed away recently. We miss him! Please stay tuned for more images and stories from wild Africa. @natgeocreative @thephotosociety #Africa #Gratitude #Teamwork #Wildlifephotography #Creativity


Video by @Christine Eckstrom with @FransLanting Male chimpanzees are competitive and often fight for dominance, but in the savanna woodlands of southern Senegal, where Frans and I tracked one group of chimps for 6 weeks, we found a secret waterhole recently filled with rain. In the brutal summer heat it provided precious relief and squabbles were suspended for a temporary truce. We hid our cameras under rocks at the edge of the waterhole and watched from a distance to give the chimps privacy. This amazing behavior had never been captured before and it shows that even male chimps can get along when they want to. When we showed this video to Jane Goodall she was amazed, and said she had never seen anything like it before. Stay tuned for more unique chimp behavior. Images and stories from this project are also featured in our new book “Into Africa.” Check the link in my Instagram bio to learn more.
@franslanting #ape #chimp #wildlife #wildlifephotography #assignment #challenge #wild #waterhole #men #competition #cooperation #peace



Video by @Christine Eckstrom with @FransLanting. Working with chimpanzees in the wild is tough. We tracked one group of chimps in Senegal for six weeks from dawn to dusk with researcher Jill Pruetz on assignment for National Geographic. It was hot and humid, we carried heavy packs, and the chimps moved fast and far. In the end Frans had lost nearly 20 pounds of body weight, but we had gained precious insights about the intimate lives of our nearest relatives on the great tree of life. In this video you’ll get an idea of the challenges. In next posts we’ll follow up with other videos that show some of the unique behavior we were able to capture. Stay tuned! Images and stories from this project are also featured in our new book “Into Africa.” @natgeo @natgeocreative @thephotosociety #ape #chimp #wildlife #wildlifephotography #assignment #challenge #wild


Hi Photographers, Tune in this Sunday April 23 at 9:00 am PDT on to see Frans Lanting's free online course “The Art of Seeing,” if you’re interested in learning creative techniques for photographing plants. He created this course with Creative Live, which will stream it live for 24 hours. If you cannot tune in at that time or if you want to own a copy of the course, you can buy it directly from Creative Live. If you’d like to join us for a future workshop session, write to us at and ask to be on our emailing list.

@FransLanting @thephotosociety @natgeo @natgeotravel @CreativeLive #CreativeLive #NaturePhotography #MacroPhotography #Beauty #Nature #SantaCruz #Creativity #PhotoWorkshop


@ChristineEckstrom Tap the screen for sound, lower left! “Learning to Fly” Each summer thousands of young albatrosses born on Hawaii’s Midway Atoll head to the beach to learn how to fly. They’re still unsteady on their feet, but they start practicing takeoffs and landings. At the end of the clip you’ll see an adult who has truly mastered the art of flight and you’ll appreciate the skill involved when you see these young birds trying so hard. I produced this short video with Frans Lanting (@FransLanting) on Midway Atoll, where President Obama is visiting today to declare a momentous expansion of the National Monument that surrounds the Hawaiian Leeward Islands. The new marine protected area will cover 582,000 square miles, making it the biggest protected area in the world. It’s a gift to albatrosses, the oceans, to the people of Hawaii, and to the planet at large. Mahalo, Obama!

#Albatross #Seabird #MidwayAtoll #LeewardIslands #NationalMonument #Obama #POTUS #WhiteHouse #DepartmentoftheInterior #BLM #Fly