Archive for Rhino

Six images in the Share The View competition…

Posted in Photography, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2012 by Neil Aldridge

©NeilAldridge

Six of my photographs have been selected in the winning portfolio of the Audubon Society’s Share the View International Nature Photography Competition. It’s a shame not to have been amongst the winners but my sincere congratulations to Bence Mate (Grand Prize, Best Bird winner) and Suzi Eszterhas (Grand Prize, Overall winner).

©NeilAldridge

Those of my entries which made it into the top portfolio include a portrait of a Canadian bald eagle feeding, two little terns in courtship display, a zebra stallion biting the neck of an adversary, a portrait of a meerkat, a close-up wide-angle shot of a colourful painted reed frog in Botswana’s Okavango Delta and an intimate portrait of a white rhinoceros – a shot which also features in BBC Wildlife magazine’s 2013 calendar.

The winners and top 250 will be featured on the Share the View website in early January 2013, so be sure to check back then.

©NeilAldridge

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2013 BBC Wildlife Calendar…

Posted in Photography, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2012 by Neil Aldridge

The December 2012 issue of BBC Wildlife magazine goes on sale this week. As well as exceptional features on Ethiopian wolves and giant otters, and a portfolio on winter in Siberia, the issue includes the 2013 edition of the sought-after BBC Wildlife Calendar. I’m really proud to say that two of my photographs feature in the calendar – a malachite kingfisher snapped in the swamps of Botswana’s Okavango Delta earlier this year and a portrait of a white rhino, taken in the home of rhino conservation – South Africa’s Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park.

As you would expect from BBC Wildlife, the calendar – which marks the magazine’s 50th anniversary – is full of wonderful wildlife photographs taken from the equatorial waters of the Galapagos Marine Reserve to the frozen wilderness of the arctic circle. Pick up a copy and be inspired.

See these photos and more on my main website…

Circles of death

Posted in African Wildlife, Conservation, Conservation Photography, Wildlife with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2010 by Neil Aldridge

Poaching is one of those topics that wherever you go it is bound to draw debate – often controversial, sometimes heated but never dull. It’s a topic that I feel strongly about even though it’s often hard to form clearly-defined principles. The news of the choice to award Swazi environmentalist Thuli Mahama the Goldman Environmental Prize highlights some of the issues that make poaching a polarised and murky topic.

On paper, the recognition of the work of Mahama is a victory for common sense. After all, many of the fat cats, officials and game reserve employees that get caught poaching the animals that they are charged to protect often get off scott-free. All the while, the desperate rural villager poaching meat to feed his starving family is hit so hard with the heavy hand of the law that it often costs them their lives. And this is what Mahama has been fighting for – an end to the violent anti-poaching tactics that leads to suspected poachers being hunted down, killed or beaten. She wants to see poachers prosecuted through the correct legal channels.

Like I said, on paper the theory is noble. If the work of people like Mahama can ensure that all poachers are treated equally and convicted, no matter what their status, then it will be a victory for conservation. However, out on Africa’s plains of reality, just as in other parts of the world, the situation is much less clear-cut. Poachers are often armed, sometimes set booby traps and more often than not work in groups. As a result, plenty of game rangers and anti-poaching scouts are killed by poachers every year.

Let us assume that arrests are made – this does not always end in a prosecution or even result in a poacher being deterred from crossing that line again in the future. The late Bruce Bryden, former chief ranger in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, recalls how his successful arrest of a gang of poachers from Mozambique turned sour. The group were simply released from custody on the grounds that they were all high-ranking police or security officials.

One of the most difficult areas to draw judgement on is the issue of dealing with the hungry subsistence poacher who is out to catch an impala for his family compared to dealing with the poacher who is looking to pocket cash in return for rhino horn, ivory or tiger bone. It is the latter that attracts the scorn of the media (and rightly so when their quarries are the critically endangered) while the simple hunter-gatherer often attracts pity.

Mahama points out that the poaching carried out by the hungry rural villager is ‘nothing more than the odd killing of an antelope or warthog’ but while that may be their intent, the method of setting dozens of wire snares also leads to the maiming or slow and painful death of countless other species that the hunter-gatherer has no interest in eating. As a result, this ‘subsistence’ poaching can have a greater negative affect on the overall biodiversity of an area through this kind of secondary impact.

But we can’t afford to sit back and compare how or why animals are poached or what a poacher’s intent may be. We are losing too many species and habitats at such an alarming rate…and in a year when we are supposed to be celebrating biodiversity! Yes, poachers do need to be dealt with through the legal processes championed by Mahama but at a time when rhino poaching is on the increase again we also need to look broader toward the issues of security, demand and trade. As chief executive of SANParks Dr David Mabunda recently said:

No matter how hard we try to reduce or stamp out this inferno, the solution will come from…taking the war to the “Armani-suits and silk tie” clad rhino dealers and reduce the demand in South East Asia through international interventions driven by CITES.

In reality, it’s a multi-tiered offensive that nations need to invest in when it comes to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Japan later this year. Greater legal protection of wildlife and a crack-down on trade will no doubt be discussed but, on the ground, better protection of endangered species and habitats is a necessity. That includes more anti-poaching patrols in sensitive areas, better fences along human-wildlife conflict boundaries and certainly a better deal for the army of grossly underpaid yet committed game rangers and scouts whose difficult and dangerous job it is to protect our natural wealth. No longer can we sit back and expect someone to be a guardian of an endangered species on a pitiful salary when if it wasn’t for their devotion they could be earning far more money illegally plundering that same species.

Visit my main website at www.conservationphotojournalism.com

Land of giants

Posted in African Wildlife, Conservation, Conservation Photography, Photography, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2010 by Neil Aldridge

The recent storms in South Africa’s northern Limpopo Province may have been big but they measure up against the region’s landscapes and wildlife. From its trees to its birds, mammals and the river itself, the valley of the great Limpopo River is a land of giants!

The vast landscapes of this place near where South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana meet are dominated by baobabs. These colossal trees support a whole community of wildlife – elephants eat the bark, bats feed on the nectar of the flowers (and in turn pollinate them) and barn owls roost and nest in holes in their large boughs. Many particularly large trees still bear the pegs that allowed humans to climb up and collect rain water collected in troughs in the boughs. In such a hot climate in a place where ground water will have been shared with wild animals, this would have been a vital source of fresh water…if you can reach it.

During the dry winter months, large herds of elephants move into the valley from dryer areas over the river in Botswana. The riverine forest comes alive with a mass of grey bodies shepherding their youngsters and hoovering-up vegetation and the remaining water.

Herds of eland, Africa’s largest antelope, also roam the plains of the valley. Like in much of their range, black rhino’s are here but they are hard to see. The larger and more common white rhino has become synonymous with the Limpopo valley since the discovery in 1932 of a little golden rhino at the World Heritage Site at Mapungubwe.

Even the birds here are big enough to make small children and dog owners feel wary. Black eagles rule by day, surveying the land for their quarry from a perch high up on a sandstone cliff or by soaring the thermals on huge wings. The floodplains are home to marauding secretarybirds, storks, ground hornbills and kori bustards, the heaviest flying bird in the world, while the night is owned by owls. The elusive and sought-after Pel’s fishing owl uses the large trees lining the river to roost in by day and hunt from by night. Also in the riverine bush, hunting silently on a two-metre wingspan in almost complete darkness, the giant (or Verreaux’s) eagle owl hawks for birds and small mammals.

But as rich in wildlife and archaeology as this valley is, it is a landscape under threat. If proposed coal mining in the area is allowed to go ahead, pollution is not only likely to threaten the local ecosystem but important sites further down the Limpopo River system in the Kruger National Park and Mozambique as well.

Plans for the mine at Vele, just six kilometres east of the Mapungubwe World Heritage Site, also threaten to derail proposals for a major transfrontier conservation area between South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana, a scheme committed to by the government. The Endangered Wildlife Trust and BirdLife South Africa are just two of the many organisations fighting the mining application. And while no-one can be certain what either the short-term or lasting affects of the mine will be on this overlooked and sacred corner of South Africa, with so much to experience in this land of giants, my advice is to go there and to go there now!

Visit my main website at www.conservationphotojournalism.com