This story appears in the May 2010 issue of National Geographic magazine.
69 photographers, 46 countries, 15 months, one mission: to celebrate wildlife and wild places on a continent more famous for monuments to human ingenuity—cities, railways, cafés—than for nature preservation. Yet as Staffan Widstrand, one of the project’s directors, observes, “Wildlife is coming back because of changes in policy and lifestyles. Almost 20 percent of Europe is now under some form of protection, and there’s a huge shift under way as Europeans abandon family farms for cities. So wildlife is actually gaining ground and becoming a more vital part of the European experience.” This sampling of photographs proves his point. Along with thousands of others, they are the culmination of Wild Wonders of Europe, a photographic expedition to the wild heart of a civilized continent.