New article: “The Importance of photography in wildlife conservation”

In the May 2021 edition of Wild Planet Photo Magazine, I published an article in which I talked about the importance of photography in wildlife conservation.

Read an extract of my article below:

It was 5.00am when the alarm went off. I always like to wake up quite abruptly, to be ready for the day, have a good breakfast and go out into the bush, accompanied by the volunteers, to conduct wildlife monitoring and conservation. It was a freezing cold winter morning and sunrise was around 7.00am, with the drive starting at 6.00am, however the hope to find big cats and nocturnal creatures retiring to their shelters or burrows sparked excitement and adrenaline, making the cold barely noticeable. It was still dark and, after driving for a very short while in the reserve, I turned off the engine of the game viewer. I took out the telemetry and checked for the signal of the collared cheetahs that we were monitoring every day. Surprisingly, I could already hear a ‘beep’, indicating the general direction where the animal was – it looked like a promising morning. As cheetahs are diurnal animals, I decided to find them later in the morning. Suddenly, just before starting the engine again, we heard lions roaring and everybody in the car froze, hypnotized by the power and strength of the sound. “The lions are not too far”, I said. “There are at least three different lions calling, from different directions. Let’s go find them!”.

Around sunrise, lions roar often, at intervals of five to fifteen minutes. While driving on a main road, in the direction of the roars, something appeared in front of us. A tiny, lone lion cub was sitting in the middle of the road, looking around. After a few seconds, a lioness appeared, followed by another cub. They trotted across the road and started walking in our direction. Nearby, two male lions kept roaring, looking for one another. We kept the engine off and didn’t move, enjoying the sounds of nature, and also to avoid disturbing the lioness and her cubs who were approaching the vehicle. Once the female got a couple of  metres from us, she started to roar in response to the males. What an incredible, unforgettable moment. We were surrounded by lions. The roar was so powerful and intense that it gave us goosebumps. We could literally feel the air vibrating. A lion’s roar is one of the most overwhelming sensations on Earth.

Lioness roaring in an early winter morning

After roaring, the old, experienced female started moving with her cubs in the direction of the river, and we followed them at a respectful distance. As the monitoring team, we had the responsibility to collect data about the lions (reporting on their movements, interactions, behaviour etc), as well as photos and videos to update the Identification kits. We spent about an hour and a half monitoring them once they settled under a bush. The other lions kept roaring for about two hours around us and, after we left the location of the lioness and her tiny cubs, we also got to see the big males several times, even chasing a female cheetah with her sub-adult cub – thankfully, with no consequences for the spotted, endangered cats, giving us a wonderful start to the morning, with a positive ending…

To be continued…

To read the full article, please check out the May 2021 Edition of Wild Planet Photo Magazine.

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