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John Wendle

Dakar, Senegal
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About John
John Wendle is an freelance writer, photographer, videographer, video editor, and producer based in Dakar, Senegal.

Reporting on human and environmental conflict, science, and conservation, John creates multimedia packages as well as text features, photo essays, and videos from some of the world's most remote and dangerous places.

He is also available as a field producer for television, employing his keen news sense, vast experience tracking down and interviewing sources, and planning and implementing complex logistical operations to far-flung locations.

John has 15 years of experience living and reporting in the republics of the former Soviet Union, Afghanistan, and now West Africa. He has worked in nearly 20 countries and speaks fluent Russian and French.

Working as a writer, photographer, cameraman, editor, and producer, John’s packages and features have appeared in National Geographic, PBS, Scientific American, TIME, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Al Jazeera, Channel 4, Le Monde, The Times, The Guardian, Outside, The Economist, UNHCR, the ICRC, MSF, and many others.

John has a master's from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. He is a member of the National Association of Science Writers, the Society of Environmental Journalists, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Reporters Without Borders.
English French Russian
Video Package (Web / Broadcast) Audio package (Radio / Podcast) Interview (Video / Broadcast)
Politics Current Affairs Technology

National Geographic Society funds the best and brightest individuals

23 May 2024  |  Science
National Geographic Society supports leading individuals in scientific discovery, exploration, education, and storytelling to enhance understanding and protection of the natural and cultural worlds, fostering stronger connections among people.

Are there really freshwater manatees thriving deep within West Africa?

10 Jan 2024  |  newscientist.com
Lucy Keith-Diagne, an expert on African manatees, is investigating the presence of these aquatic mammals in the Niandan river, a tributary near the source of the Niger river in Guinea. Despite the improbability due to the distance from the Atlantic Ocean and proximity to the Sahara desert, there is anecdotal evidence suggesting a population of manatees that may have evolved into a separate subspecies. Keith-Diagne's two-week expedition aims to interview locals, follow up on recent sightings, and collect samples to learn more about these elusive creatures.

See the magnificent but melting glaciers of the Rwenzori mountains

01 Oct 2023  |  www.newscientist.com
African glaciers, including those on Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, and the Rwenzori mountains, are rapidly melting and may disappear soon. This loss threatens critical ice cores that document the climatic history of equatorial Africa and endangers unique plant and animal species. The author, along with Alessandra Prentice, hiked the Rwenzori mountains to photograph the glaciers before they vanish. The journey included challenging conditions, such as knee-deep mud, and highlighted the dramatic retreat of the Stanley glacier.

Time Is Running Out for Uganda’s Vanishing Glaciers

15 Apr 2023  |  wired.com
Climate change is causing rapid melting of the Rwenzori Mountains' glaciers in Uganda, with over 80% ice loss since 1906 and predictions of complete disappearance within a decade. This poses significant threats to unique ecosystems, local tourism, and climate data collection. Scientists are using alternative research methods to understand past and present ice conditions, but the future of the glaciers and dependent livelihoods remains bleak.

A Closer Look at the Science of Mirror Neurons

15 Sep 2021  |  Nautilus
The article delves into the evolving understanding of mirror neurons, brain cells initially thought to be key in explaining empathy, autism, and theory of mind. Recent research is refining and redefining their role, suggesting a more nuanced view of their function in the brain.

PBS: An Industrial Plant in the Crosshairs A conflict between Ukraine and Russia since 2014 has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced 2 million and put businesses on the border, like the Metinvest plant in Eastern Ukraine, in the crossfire. Metinvest is the largest plant in Europe turning coal into a fuel to produce steel and it is constantly under attack. NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Christopher Livesay reports.

HRW: Barriers to Free Movement for the Elderly Older people who need to travel between the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine and government-controlled areas face arbitrary obstacles, including risks to their health and safety, says Human Rights Watch in a new report.

ICRC: Landmine’s Scars “I’m afraid to close my eyes - whenever I do, I see a burning tractor," says Valentina Marenkova, who's husband was killed by a landmine while tilling a field near Mariupol. ICRC is working to support those who have lost family to landmines as well as those wounded by mines in the country's east. After four years of conflict, Ukraine is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world. More anti-vehicle mine accidents have happened in Ukraine than in any other country for three years in a row, according to Halo. The majority of fighting has taken place near settlements, leaving mines and other ERW a direct threat to the safety of communities across the eastern part of the country, in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, with well over half a million civilians affected in government-controlled areas alone. The full extent of the contamination is not yet known.

PBS: Ukraine’s Front Line As a four-year conflict between Ukraine’s government and Russian-backed separatists continues, Ukraine has emerged as one of the biggest sources of contention between Russia and the U.S. A few weeks ago, the Trump administration provided the former Soviet nation with anti-tank missiles as assistance in the war. NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Christopher Livesay reports from Ukraine.

USAID: Economic Development in Casamance Casamance was once Senegal's food basket, with rich plantations of cashew, mango, and dozens of other kinds of fruit. The decades-long war destroyed the infrastructure and security needed for the market. USAID has worked to rebuild the sector, providing stability as well as jobs.

USAID: Natural Resource Management in Casamance Illegal loggers took advantage of the decades-long war in Casamance to harvest trees from protected areas near border areas. USAID has worked with local communities to develop awareness of the value of the forest to help protect the endangered areas.

USAID: Cross Border Reconciliation in Casamance The conflict in Casamance lasted for decades, breaking relations between groups divided by colonial borders. USAID has worked to bridge these divides through economic and cultural projects, bringing communities back together.

CNN: News Package West Africa Fatou Jallow, winner of Gambia's top beauty pageant, accuses ex-president, Yahya Jammeh, of rape.

National Geographic: Double Jeopardy - Endangered Saiga The critically endangered saiga antelope, plagued by disease and prized for their horns, are at the center of conservation efforts in Central Asia. Today, there are only around 225,000 saiga in Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia. In 2015, a mysterious disease caused a mass die off in central Kazakhstan where 220,000 saiga died over a few weeks, exterminating around 62 percent of the world population. Although the antelope survived, they are still threatened by poaching. In the race to save the remaining population, conservationists and anti-poaching rangers joined efforts in the Irgiz-Turgay Reserve to study the saigas' health and patrol the area from the illegal wildlife trade.

The Fighting Drones of Ukraine

01 May 2018  |  www.smithsonianmag.com
The article explores the evolution and impact of drone warfare in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, highlighting the innovative efforts of Ukrainian volunteers and the military to develop and deploy UAVs. Despite initial disadvantages, Ukraine has leveraged its aeronautics industry and human capital to create effective combat and surveillance drones, significantly enhancing its military capabilities. The conflict has become a testing ground for new tactics and technologies, with both Ukrainian and Russian forces employing advanced UAV strategies. The article underscores the critical role of drones in modern warfare and the potential for smaller nations to use technology to counter stronger adversaries.

Europe’s Last Wild River Is About to Get Dammed

28 Jul 2016  |  TIME Stamped
The Vjosa River in Albania, Europe's last undammed river system, faces threats from a proposed dam project. Environmental activists, including Slovenian Olympic rower Rok Rozman, are protesting against the dam, highlighting its potential ecological and economic drawbacks. The project is part of a broader surge in hydropower investments across the Balkans, funded by institutions like the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation. Critics argue that these projects often proceed despite flawed environmental assessments and could harm both the environment and local economies. The debate underscores the tension between renewable energy development and environmental conservation.

Engineers Race to Entomb the Decaying Chernobyl Reactor

26 Apr 2016  |  Scientific American
Engineers are working to complete a massive steel structure to encase the decaying Chernobyl reactor, aiming to reduce the risk of radioactive leaks. The Ukrainian government plans to transform the surrounding area into a national park, sparking controversy among researchers who fear it may compromise safety and wildlife protection. The Exclusion Zone remains a site of illegal activities such as logging, fishing, and poaching, exacerbated by poverty and insufficient government control. The future of the zone's status and its implications for environmental and human safety remain uncertain.

30 years after Chernobyl disaster, engineers race against a decaying reactor

25 Apr 2016  |  PBS.org
Engineers are racing to complete a new steel structure to encase the decaying Chernobyl sarcophagus, which was only designed to last 30 years. The Ukrainian government plans to turn the surrounding area into a national park, a move that has sparked controversy among researchers who fear it may compromise wildlife safety and increase industrial development. The exclusion zone remains a site of illegal activities such as logging, fishing, and poaching, exacerbated by poverty and insufficient government control. The future of the zone remains uncertain, with debates ongoing about the best way to manage and protect the area.

How Radiation is Affecting Wildlife Thirty Years After the Chernobyl Disaster

18 Apr 2016  |  Science
Thirty years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, wildlife such as wolves, moose, deer, and beavers are thriving in the exclusion zone due to the absence of human interference, despite high radiation levels. Scientists like Marina Shkvyria and Jim Beasley are studying the effects of radiation on these populations, with some like Beasley finding no evidence that radiation is suppressing wildlife populations. The debate among scientists continues, with some research indicating negative effects of radiation on animals. The exclusion zone, spanning Ukraine and Belarus, has become one of Europe's largest wild sanctuaries, and there are efforts to convert it into a nature preserve to protect the flourishing wildlife.

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Dec 2014

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