Wildlife conservation, the world over, is in crisis, and not just in the developing world. The United Kingdom has just announced that 25% of its native mammals are in imminent danger of extinction. In Sri Lanka, a global biodiversity hotspot, we see alarming increases in human – wildlife conflicts, widespread illegal encroachment into protected areas, and policy proposals to reduce the remaining forest cover even further. The picture is grim but not irreversible, with committed action and widespread education these can yet be stopped, but there is no time to waste.
Conservation photography is a powerful tool in bringing about this action and learning. It is much more than the taking of a pretty picture of a wild animal or a landscape to cater to the aesthetic pleasure of the viewer. Conservation photographers take pictures that not only have technical excellence and perfect composition, but also give a message, sometimes stark and shocking, of the current reality in the jungles and forests and oceans, away from the tourist posters and the public eye. They will show the beauty of nature and the threat to its destruction, all in one frame i.e. a human guardian placing his head against the last remaining male Northern White Rhino, alas now no more.
To be able to compose such evocative pictures, the photographer not only requires the artistic and technical skills necessary for producing such images, but also a deep empathy and understanding of the subject; motivated by the desperate need to protect the world’s wild places and the creatures that call them home, and with whom we share this planet.