Photographing wildlife is very rewarding, although not easy and it can be extremely frustrating, especially if you need to get that little bit closer to get your shot and can't. Flash photography is not acceptable (and should not be permitted for any wildlife photography!). Patience and time is what is needed! Once you do see what you hope to photograph, there are likely to be other challenges to overcome, for example, there could be lots of vegetation, it might be raining, or dark because of an overhead canopy, or perhaps the animal or bird is only glimpsed for a fleeting second - so you'll need to draw on all your photographic skills. Nothing beats the beauty of seeing wildlife in it's natural environment but sometimes the best wildlife memories are those we can't capture or miss on camera!
Possible transmission of human diseases are a threat to wildlife. For example, in Rwanda, if you have a cold, flu or other contagious illness you are requested not to visit the mountain gorillas. This example should be followed by anyone involved in wildlife photography who expects to have a 'close encounter' with their subject.
Remember that the animals you see in the wild roam freely and are 'wild', so keep your distance, move slowly and do not ever disturb something just to get a better or different shot.
If you are on a safari and find yourself in a situation where lots of vehicles are converging on an animal, please make a formal complaint - and please send details to Responsible Photography.
If you are concerned about wildlife welfare during your travels, let Responsible Photography know or tell an organisation such as Born Free, who raise awareness about wildlife and animal welfare.
Remember that in many countries, communities and wildlife co-habit, and this can lead to conflict. It is important to respect local communities whose homes are in wildlife areas and to realise that their attitude towards the wildlife will not necessarily reflect our own views. Talking about conservation and communicating through education are two of the steps being taken to help find ways for communities and wildlife to live together, which is challenging and this is without adding 'tourism' into the equation.
Something else to avoid is having your photograph taken
with or photographing ''captive wildlife'.
Sadly animals, including snakes and birds, have often been drugged or
mistreated so that they can be used as a 'photographic prop'. It might be fascinating to see wildlife
close up, but it is not right. For example, in Morocco, young boys in the
desert stand at the side of the road holding desert foxes, which they encourage
you to photograph or hold to have your photograph taken. In the Djemaa - el
fan, monkeys are touted as photo opportunities. Gail has had numerous heated
debates with their owners, with one man pointedly saying ' what do I do, starve in the mountains or do this - you know nothing, go
Please do not buy local products made from animal skins,
bone, horn, hair etc - if you get
the chance explain that firstly, it is illegal to bring such items into your
home country, and secondly, that if alternatives were used, there would be a
better opportunity to sell their products. For example, in Ethiopia, Gail
explained to hat makers that if they substituted the baboon or horse hair, used
to decorate hats, for wool or cotton, they would have a better chance of
selling the hats to visitors.
There are lots of issues affecting captive animal
attractions too. The Born Free Organisation has a dedicated 'Travellers Animal
Alert' and a formal system for reporting your concerns or experiences - this is
the link to Born Free
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