Thank you for your interest in my work. However, this blog is no longer active and messages are not being monitored. Please visit my website www.conservationphotojournalism.com to view my work and to contact me. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook for updates on projects or news about upcoming talks, events and tours.
Archive for the Conservation Category
Join me in my old home town of York in March for the RSPB Members’ Weekend. I will be presenting the after dinner talk on Friday the 27th before delivering a photo workshop on Saturday the 28th, which will include an opportunity to have your work critiqued.
The RSPB is not only one of the largest charities in the UK but it conserves birdlife the world over. I’m incredibly proud to be presenting my work, experiences and knowledge to such a powerful and passionate body of members.
For more information, head over to the RSPB’s website at rspb.org.uk
I’m proud and excited to announce that my badger vaccination story the alternative is a winner of the 2013 British Wildlife Photography Awards. The six-image portfolio picked up the top award in the Documentary category – my second win in as many years of entering the category (my last win was in 2011 as I served as a judge of the competition in 2012).
The set of photographs documents the process of trapping and vaccinating badgers against bovine TB. Many of the UK’s most influential scientists, NGOs and landowners – such as The Wildlife Trusts and The National Trust – believe vaccination is a viable alternative to culling. Yet, the government has chosen to press ahead with a cull in England, claiming that culling badgers is the best method for controlling bovine TB in Britain’s cattle. Find out more on the Badger Trust website.
This six image edit is taken from my autumn 2011 BBC Wildlife magazine cover feature Kill or Cure, which also featured as an online gallery on their website discoverwildlife.com. You can also see a more complete set of images on my website conservationphotojournalism.com
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the awards in London as I am currently working in Africa but I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to all winners in the 2013 British Wildlife Photography Awards. Please support the awards by attending the exhibition as it travels around the UK and by buying the book on the BWPA website.
So last night I had the privilege of meeting Sir David Attenborough at a Galapagos Conservation Trust event at BAFTA on London’s Piccadilly. The question is: what do you do when you meet an inspiration, someone who through their life’s work has influenced your decisions about your own career? Some people go quiet in awe, some people go straight in for the autograph, others ask for their photograph to be taken with that person.
So what did I do? Happily, I don’t actually get star-struck and so it was none of the above. As he had given so much to an appreciative audience on a fantastic evening barely three weeks after having heart surgery, I chose to give something back to him – something he could take away – in the form of a signed copy of my book Underdogs with a personal letter of appreciation slipped inside. My love for African wild dogs and my drive to understand them and share their plight has been influenced by memorable scenes in series such as Trials of Life and Planet Earth. Beyond that though, Sir David’s greatest influence on my own work has been in his ethical appreciation for the natural world around him and avoiding sensationalising wildlife encounters by provoking behaviour just for better ratings.
Sir David continues to lead his field of wildlife film-making and he uses his position to engage people in the most uncomfortable and pressing issues facing our own species and our planet. His recent heart surgery should also come as a reminder that he is merely human. For those reasons, among many more, he needs to be respected and treated with dignity. I hope that others will remember this if they should ever get the chance to meet this incredibly inspiring man. While I completely understand the desire to have a record of such meaningful events in life, a digital photograph could be lost on a phone or stolen on a laptop whereas a shared moment with a warm handshake and the exchange of a few sincere words will stay with you for ever. I know it will stay with me. I just hope he likes the book…
When I set out to photograph my African wild dog project Underdogs four and half years ago I did so with two goals – to raise awareness of this incredible species and to make a financial contribution towards their conservation. Now, with a major new project on the horizon, I am launching one final push to raise funds for their protection. Please donate to my campaign on indiegogo.com. 100% of the money raised will be donated to wild dog conservation projects in Africa and used to send you ‘perks’ – personal thank yous for donating.
This project has been everything from exciting and fun to testing and emotional. The highs of winning international awards with photographs from this story contrast severely with the lows of coming to terms with knowing that every dog that I followed day-in-day-out in South African has since been killed. I am proud to think that the project has succeeded in raising awareness of the wild dog’s plight. Millions of people around the world have seen this work through international exhibitions, sales of my book, magazine features and online galleries. However, it is contributing to efforts on the ground that will make the greatest impact to the future of this species and this 48-day campaign aims to achieve just that.
Please donate what you can. If you can afford to give between £10 and £25, I will send you a print of one of my award-winning photographs. Any donation between £25 and £100 will see you receive a signed copy of my African wild dog book Underdogs. Donations over £100 will earn you a signed copy of my book and a print of an award-winning photograph in recognition of your generosity. I understand that not everyone can donate but that doesn’t mean you can’t help. Please send this link to others who may be able to contribute.
The African wild dog is in trouble. There are as few wild dogs in Africa as their are Tigers in Asia but, as pack animals, only a small number will ever breed. This means that the future of the entire species rests on only about 10% of the total number of wild dogs remaining – so about 400 individuals. We need to help equip those with the skills to save the species with the right tools. On the campaign page you will see a list of things that I am aiming to help projects access. Your help is appreciated and will make a difference. Thank you!
To donate, visit indiegogo.com/projects/save-the-african-wild-dog/x/3412838
So this short blog post is a result of a recent conversation I had with somebody about fox hunting. The conversation was civil and chatty enough but the underlying debate was based on the fact that this person was admitting to me that they enjoy fox hunting and have continued doing it since the ban came to pass.
Now, in case you were in any doubt, I don’t support fox hunting. Not only do I happen to like foxes – young or old, rural or urban, bushy-tailed or mangy – but if there is a problem with urban foxes in the UK then it certainly isn’t going to be sorted out by calling in the horse and hound. London is a city that feels the need to use PA systems to remind pedestrians every two minutes that the weather today has been ‘inclement’ (of course it has, it’s the the UK…). It would be a wet dream for the paperwork department in the Health and Safety Executive if anyone honestly thought that it would be a good idea to send a pack of dogs and a posse of galloping horses through the streets to rid the nation’s capital of these so-called vermin. Realistically, if there is any problem with urban foxes then it is a Defra issue and the government needs to stop talking about hunting and focus on humane control informed by statistics and research, not by passion and opinion.
Luckily, my conversational corival agreed. However, where our views began to part was at the mention of the ‘T’ word – tradition. This word is a particular favourite of the pro-hunting fraternity. While I do agree that many countryside traditions should be upheld, I think it’s time anyone who believes the fox hunting community is getting even the slightest rough deal because they can’t practice their tradition needs a healthy dose of perspective. Last year I was lucky enough to spend some time in the company of the San Bushman of the Kalahari. If you really want to appreciate how a ban on hunting threatens tradition, do yourself a favour and pack your sandals, book a flight to Botswana and take a wander into the desert. Hunting restrictions there threaten the very future of one of the oldest and most important cultures we know – a culture from which every one of us hails.
Strangely, I didn’t quite pick up the same vibe of desperation or feel the same sense of sympathy when looking into the eyes of my wealthy, London-based melancholist as I had when sat in the sand opposite a tribal elder contemplating a future without the right to hunt, without the ability to provide for his family, without a role in society, without a formal education to fall back on…without an alternative.
A review of Underdogs – my African wild dog book – features in the latest issue of the magazine Environment. The magazine is a collaboration between some of Africa’s leading environmental organisations, including the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) with whom I worked while photographing Underdogs. The editor of Environment, Dr John Ledger, reviews the book and says:
“This is more than a ‘coffee table’ book because, although it is a large-format hard-cover edition, beautifully illustrated by the author’s excellent photographs, it also has a very informative text that imparts the scientific aspects of Wild Dog conservation…This is a lovely book to have and a very worthwhile read.”
To read the review of Underdogs in full, see the latest issue of Environment online at environmentmag.co.za/ebook/Env-12 or subscribe at environmentmag.co.za. Underdogs is now available across South Africa at leading stores, such as Exclusive Books, Estoril Books and PNA.