I had the great privilege of talking at the BAWC Wildlife Crime Conference in Bristol over the weekend. It was an amazing event to be part of and full of people all fighting in their own way for wildlife that is being killed, trapped and removed within our countryside. Over the two days there were some really moving and powerful talks and it was just great to be part of.
I first met the passionate team from BAWC at last year at the “Hen Harrier Day” in Buxton and was really moved at what they stood for and represented. They do amazing work in highlighting the plight of our wildlife and what is happening to it.
Change is coming, more and more people are seeing what is happening in our countryside as more and more wildlife suffer and are killed. It was great to be one of the speakers at this years conference. My talk showed what truly stunning wildlife we have in this country and the importance of keeping it safe, looking after it.
Over the two days there were live podcasts from rarebird alerts so anyone that couldn’t make it would be able to hear the talks. Those of you that listened in I hope enjoyed all the talks. We can all do something I believe no matter how small or large to help wildlife and those creatures from the natural world entrusted into our care. We have a duty of care to all living creatures to protect,care for and keep safe. Turning away or ignorance is not the answer no more.
So many great talks over the two days and it was great to meet new and old faces. Id like to thank everyone that attended because by doing so your giving those creatures that most of you will never meet a voice outside of their world and the conflict they find themselves in with landowners and gamekeepers. You’re also showing that people aren’t having this no more and the levels of mindless killings and poaching of our wildlife.
Amazing to see that the National Wildlife Crime Unit – NWCU was saved at the eleventh hour and has now got funding until 2020. These guys do an amazing job and are there to make sure what we see and what happens to our wildlife is dealt with and those thugs doing this are prosecuted. Great to speak to Ian and Andy from this unit at the conference and a great presentation from Ian.
During my talk I was aware of the time limit of forty minutes and so I wrote down my words while a slideshow of images showed in the background. I then presented two slideshows with powerful music to accompany them, one from the Peak District and its wildlife and one from my work abroad in Sumatra.
I wanted to show each and everyone of the audience what I see and how I use my own skills and photography to capture that and use the results to help, inspire and communicate what I saw for the better of wildlife and the need to preserve our national heritage.
I have written my thoughts on wildlife photography ethics and the welfare of the subjects before. Click here and you will see these words and thoughts as I go through that duty of care I speak so often about to all living creatures. Never has wildlife needed so much help, everyone can do something to help and how we view, treat and live alongside wildlife for me is the key.
Wildlife needs protecting, and everyone needs to do more to make sure this happens. From a photography point of view alot of ethics and welfare is lost now in wildlife photography and you clearly see this in the thousands of staged or set up images that are out there. Big competitions awarding Fox and Badgers images where the animal was fed and then blinded by flash or made to come to a certain area to “perform” for the photographer.
Owls and other birds of prey running towards the camera calling and showing signs of distress yet nobody even thinks to ask the photographer “How did you get a bird of prey on the ground running at you” in their rush to say well done and pump up their ego. I try to bring about a better way of working within this industry I find myself in. So many are using wildlife as a commodity to make money and some sort of living yet this is sending out a shocking message on welfare grounds and how we view,treat nature. .
The list is endless and what we are asking animals to do in return for images greatly saddens me and it almost feels like a ship that is out of control and sheering itself on its own journey now. Problem is say something or try and mention something and those taking images like this defend there own, and join forces to defend their lack of ethics and integrity to their work.
To everyone that takes photographs of wildlife please just think of your own impact on that subject your with before you take the images please and if you dont want to do anything else just do this for the welfare of that creature that has no voice and wont be able to speak and report your actions.
Lastly I just wanted to thank Charlie, Phil. Lawrie, Jon and all the others members of BAWC for what you do and putting on this event, thank you to everyone for coming. Never give in, always have hope and as Mark Avery said on day one ” We will win”.
Change is coming, people have had enough of the countryside devoid of wildlife in many places replaced with a false, mono-cultured landscape that benefits nobody apart from those that use it for their own greed. Anyone that I spoke too or saw what I did and would like more information or help on my conservation side of my work then please get in touch with me here, many thanks.