Archive for UK Wildlife

Badger vaccination story wins BWPA

Posted in Conservation, Conservation Photography, European Wildlife, Exhibition, Photography, UK Wildlife, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 8, 2013 by Neil Aldridge

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.

Advertisements

A quick blog on fox hunting…

Posted in Conservation, European Wildlife, UK Wildlife, Wildlife with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2013 by Neil Aldridge

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.

Super Squirrels…

Posted in European Wildlife, Photography, UK Wildlife, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2013 by Neil Aldridge

© Neil Aldridge

Okay so let’s get one thing clear – these aren’t actually flying squirrels, they’re red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris). More specifically, they’re Scottish red squirrels. Most of my previous attempts to photograph these wonderfully iconic creatures have been fruitless, which makes me even happier with the resulting pictures from a recent trip to the Highlands.

© Neil Aldridge

If I’m honest, while planning this trip to Scotland I was visualising and hoping for snow…and lots of it. Yet, while neither myself nor fellow South African photographer Ben Cranke came away with the wintery images that we had prepared for (and I always try to plan my shots before a shoot), the show that the squirrels put on and the opportunities that we had to capture their antics were beyond our expectations.

© Neil Aldridge

Ben and I spent two days working a set-up in Glenfeshie (check out the Northshots website for info) in the Cairngorms National Park, moving between a hide by a drinking pool and a hide positioned on the edge of the forest. We managed to learn the habits of the squirrels pretty quickly and finally get the best jumping, drinking and feeding shots that the lighting conditions would allow. While we may have arrived in the middle of a strange mid-winter heatwave, the sun was still low in the sky and barely broke above the treeline, making me pretty glad I had the f2.8 capacity of my Canon 400mm and 70-200mm lenses. I was also quietly happy to see Ben struggling to autofocus in the low light with his much vaunted Nikon D4* (*Disclaimer: this may not have happened).

© Neil Aldridge

It’s neither a secret nor is it new news that red squirrels in the UK have been squeezed out of their natural range by non-native grey squirrels. Grey squirrels cause such damage to the UK’s native fauna and flora that they are listed in the IUCN international list of 100 most impactful invasive non-native species. They are not only larger and out-compete the native reds for resources but they also carry the parapox virus. While greys can carry the virus without being affected, reds are highly susceptible to it. Research shows that in areas where both species occur and where the virus is present, greys can displace the reds up to 20 times faster. This makes protecting red squirrel strongholds both more important and more difficult.

© Neil Aldridge

Having been won over by Glenfeshie’s super squirrels, we left the comfort of the hides behind and spent two days on the surrounding snow-capped mountains searching for ptarmigan. Check back soon to see how we got on looking for white birds in a white landscape in horizontal blizzards.

© Neil Aldridge

Check out more images & news at conservationphotojournalism.com

If you do one thing…

Posted in Conservation, European Wildlife, Take Action, UK Wildlife, Wildlife with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2012 by Neil Aldridge

Sign the e-petition to ask politicians to stop the cull of badgers. The petition needs at least 100,000 people to sign it before government will consider debating the issue in parliament. However, because the badger cull debate has already seen its fair share of u-turns and ignoring of scientific findings by authorities, those of us fighting the cull want to see as many signatures recorded as possible, making public opinion on the matter simply impossible to ignore.

I am going to assume that because you are on my blog, you are either my mother or you have at least some interest in wildlife and conservation. I am also going to assume that because you are still reading this piece, you find the issue surrounding the badger cull in Britain of interest. In which case, I will ask you again to please sign the e-petition.

If you’re still uncertain about what you’re signing and fear that you may be aligning yourself with extreme animal rights activists and an anti-farmer movement, fear not. The petition merely requests government employs an alternative approach to culling badgers in the control of TB in cattle. Vaccination is already a viable alternative but it is being developed even further with plans to make an oral vaccine for badgers widely available. Those of you that follow my work will recall my 2011 BBC Wildlife feature that highlighted vaccination as a viable alternative to culling. There is further information about all of the options and science on the Badger Trust website.

The UK has already extirpated a long list of animals, many of which were seen to be somehow incompatible with humans and our farming practices in particular. Don’t let the badger join the lynx, white-tailed eagle, osprey, wild boar and wolf. Sign the petition!

Tell better stories…

Posted in Conservation Photography, European Wildlife, Exhibition, Photography, UK Wildlife, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 8, 2012 by Neil Aldridge

Join me on the Canon stand at the British Birdfair for seminars on telling wildlife stories with your camera. Every day from Friday the 17th to Sunday the 19th of August I will be talking through the shots I have to get and the decisions I have to make to tell award-winning stories and keep my editors happy. Download the seminar schedule here

As a Canon photographer, I will be showing just why my equipment choice allows me to work on books and magazine features while thinking about my online audience at the same time. During the seminars I will be trying to convince you to photograph more than just pretty wildlife portraits.

Having just returned from promoting my new African wild dog book Underdogs and picking up an award in the International Conservation Photography Awards in the United States, I will be revealing the importance of being able to photograph wildlife, landscapes and people to pulling together a project that matters. You will also have the chance to ask me your questions on equipment, the industry and how I captured the work that I will be showing you.

This year’s Birdfair will also see me delivering a lecture on the Limpopo Valley on Sunday the 19th in marquee 2 and spending time on the Estonia Nature Tours stand to talk about my upcoming 2013 photo tour in partnership with leading Estonian photographer Remo Savisaar. See the tour itinerary here.

Remember that a signed copy of Underdogs is also available in the Birdfair auction. See you there…

Are The Dog Days Over…

Posted in African Wildlife, Conservation, Conservation Photography, Photography, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2012 by Neil Aldridge

In 2009 I was lucky enough to spend time with a pack of African wild dogs and their one month old pups at their den site deep in the Limpopo river forest. The time spent with them still rates as my favourite wildlife experience and the photographs that I took feature heavily in my new African wild dog book Underdogs. This is why it was so hard to receive the news that the pack was found dead from deliberate poisoning recently.

Andrei Snyman of Botswana’s Northern Tuli Predator Project reported that the pack had been found dead at their new den site agonsingly soon after the alpha female had given birth to a new litter of pups. To make matters worse, a male leopard, African wild cat and African hawk eagle were also found poisoned after feeding on two carcasses laced with Temic – a highly toxic poison. Two men have been arrested in connection with the incident and claim that they lost livestock to the animals (although it cannot be said which species was responsible for the predation).

The incident spells the end of the line (for now) for the Tuli wild dog pack – once a much celebrated success story following their high profile cross-border translocation from South Africa. The incident also threatens the viable future of the wild dog in the Limpopo Valley following on from the removal of the Venetia Limpopo pack just across the river in South Africa in 2010. With wild dog numbers so low and populations so sparsely distributed, sub-populations like the Limpopo Valley population are essential for the future of the species as young wild dogs can disperse to form new packs and keep the gene pool healthy.

This news came to me just days before my African wild dog book Underdogs arrives in South Africa. The story of the Tuli pack features in the book and I am really proud to be supporting wild dog conservation through sales so please do visit my website to order your signed copy. Every copy sold will make a real difference on the ground to those few wild dogs remaining and to the people dedicating their lives to protecting these charismatic yet marginalised predators.

Order Underdogs on my website conservationphotojournalism.com

Join me at the Rutland Birdfair…

Posted in African Wildlife, Conservation, European Wildlife, Photography, UK Wildlife, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 28, 2012 by Neil Aldridge

I’ll be at the British Birdfair in Rutland this August delivering a talk and promoting my 2013 photo tours. Join me in Lecture Marquee 2 at 2.30pm on Sunday the 19th of August where I will be talking about Africa’s wonderful Limpopo Valley and sharing my experiences of this true Land of Giants.

Over the course of the three days I will also be spending time on the Estonian Nature Tours stand talking about our 2013 photo tours to this exciting European location. We’re relaunching our tour for 2013 so come along and find out about photographing Estonia’s wildlife and wild places in the company of myself and leading Estonian photographer Remo Savisaar.

I have also donated a signed copy of my new book Underdogs to the Birdfair auction (lot 18). This is a great chance to get your hands on a copy of my new book and make sure your money supports international conservation efforts. To date, the Birdfair has raised nearly £2.5million for conservation efforts.

See you there…

Visit my main website at www.conservationphotojournalism.com