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Photos by John Davenport / San Antonio Express-News via AP

Photos by John Davenport / San Antonio Express-News via AP

A dock that once floated in Medina Lake hangs by wires on the side of the rocky bank.

The banks of Tiki Island in the middle of Medina Lake, Texas, are exposed, Jan. 19, 2012, due to receding water levels. The lake is 52 feet down. It has not been this low in more than two decades, and the lake is expected to continue to lose a few inches every day as the 15-month drought continues.

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Scientists scoured the bed of the drying Brazos River in west Texas last week to rescue two species of rare minnows threatened by the summer’s scorching heat, drought and wild fires. Record-setting temperatures and lack of rain has eliminated the flow in this portion of the Brazos, endangering the sharpnose and smalleye shiner fish that make up an important part of the river’s ecosystem.

All photographs by Brandon Thibodeaux for The Wall Street Journal.

Kevin Mayes, Aquatic Biologist at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, reads the count of rescued sharpnose and smalleye shiner fish that he and his team have captured near the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos River, near Rule, TX, on Thursday, September 15, 2011.

Mayes and Daniel Field check water temperature as they prepare the rescue. The two species had been trapped in the upper portion of the river because reservoirs had been constructed, blocking their path. Now this portion of the Brazos, the only habitat in the world where they exist in healthy numbers, is drying up.

Texas Tech University students Aaron Urbanczyk and Doug Knabe rest on their net during a break.

Urbanczyk rests on his net during a break. This team began the department’s first attempt to harvest threatened species and bring them to holding tanks near Possum Kingdom Lake.

Urbanczyk and Knabe bring up a net that they drug across a shallow as they assist in the rescue. Over the course of the day, the rescue yielded 1,150 of each species, both of which can only be found in the Brazos River.

Urbanczyk, Knabe, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist Clint Robertson and Texas Tech professor Gene Wilde pull sharpnose and smalleye shiner fish from their net to be transported to holding tanks.

The team sorts through one of their hauls, looking for fish among twigs and debris.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist Clint Robertson makes notes in a shallow pool of what used to be a flowing Brazos River.

Members of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department rescue sharpnose and smalleye shiners, a native fish species, near the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos River.

Rescued sharpnose and smalleye shiner fish are carried to a fishery truck.

A member of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department holds rescued sharpnose shiner fish in his hand.

Rescued sharpnose and smalleye shiner fish swim in a live well in the back of a hatchery truck. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department brought them to a holding pond at Possum Kingdom fish hatchery.

Corrections & Amplifications
Daniel Field checked water temperatures with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in Rule, Texas, on Sept. 15. An earlier version of a photo caption incorrectly gave his first name as Doug. Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist Clint Robertson was rescuing sharpnose and smalleye shiner fish that day with the department; a photo caption incorrectly identified him as technician Kevin Kolodziejcyk. A third photo caption incorrectly identified Mr. Robertson as a technician; he is a biologist with the department. The rescued fish were taken via a fishery truck to holding tanks near Possum Kingdom fish hatchery; captions incorrectly indicated they were taken by hatchery truck to Possum Kingdom Lake. The captions have been corrected.

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NBC News producer Baruch Ben-Chorin just returned from Turkana, a remote region in northwestern Kenya badly hit by the drought that is afflicting parts of East Africa.  While the international community has focused largely on suffering in Somalia, relief workers say close to 40 percent of Turkana's population is suffering from hunger and malnutrition. 

While concentrating on his main task of producing, Ben-Chorin took pictures for himself and his friends and family.

Editor's note: These images were altered by a software application that uses filters to mimic the effects of shooting with an antique plastic film camera, even though they were taken with a modern digital phone camera.

Baruch Ben-Chorin / NBC News

A hut in the village of Kalapata, Turkana region, Kenya. Most of the people in Turkana live in small villages like Kalapata, depending on their herds for their livelihood. But the drought has killed most of their animals, and left them with nothing. Their traditional way of life may not survive.

 

Baruch Ben-Chorin / NBC News

A boy, foreground, receives food for the first time in two weeks at a Red Cross feeding point at a school. His father died in the famine in Loitanit, North Turkana. The drought over the last five years has devastated this region. In some parts the the region close to 40 percent of the people are malnourished.

Baruch Ben-Chorin / NBC News

A child collects maize grains from the ground.

 Ben-Chorin wrote the following upon his return from the region:

I've used my iPhone to take pictures while on assignment or on the road for a while, and discovered the Hipstamatic application while playing around with it.  I find the low-tech, old-fashioned look appealing, and there is always a sense of mystery in the resulting picture.  This technique adds an interesting dimension that allows me to focus beyond the immediate, which a regular camera doesn’t.

These photographs were taken during a three-day trip to the remote Turkana region, which has been badly affected by the long drought in the Horn of Africa. Because it is so remote, and to some extent ignored by the Kenyan government, there is little reporting about widespread hunger and malnutrition in Turkana. But it is bad, very bad. We visited a number of communities and witnessed these proud and beautiful people who have maintained their traditional way of life for thousands of years struggle to survive.

Baruch Ben-Chorin / NBC News

Turkana women waiting for food distribution in the village of Kalapata. Five people have died of hunger in this village alone over the last few months.

Baruch Ben-Chorin / NBC News

Turkana women. The people of Turkana are beautiful, proud and gracious, living a traditional life that dates back thousand of years.

Baruch Ben-Chorin / NBC News

Not far from the worst famine stricken areas, the USAID-sponsored Morulem project offers a sign of hope. The simple irrigation project has created vast green fields of maize and sorghum that feeds 3,000 households in the Lokori area. People here have a surplus of food that they can store or sell.

 

Watch an NBC News report from Turkana:

Rohit Kachroo reports from Turkana, in north-western Kenya, where famine is spreading deeper into the country causing many Kenyans to turn their attention away from the crisis in Somalia and work towards relieving the hunger within its own borders.

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Today, what shook me were eight images taken by Feisal Omar in Somalia that didn’t even come close to what I'd call graphic, compared to the more horrifying images I've seen.

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