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The Ugly Side of Wildlife Photography

photography ethics india safari guiding

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24 replies to this topic

#1 NJW

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 02:25 PM

Hi

I came across this article this morning and thought it was worth sharing.

 

http://mintonsunday....1386835189.html

 

There are so many questions this article raises and certainly some disturbing incidents, especially in India. However, think referring to everyone who take photos of animals as "wildlife photographers" is misguided. One group should know better, the other, especially first-time safari goers, need to be educated by guides dan rangers.

 

Curious what others think of this...


Edited by NJW, 13 April 2016 - 02:48 PM.

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#2 madaboutcheetah

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 02:30 PM

I actually think certain places like the Mara can get just as bad ........ 


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#3 AKR1

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 02:39 PM

@NJW

Very interesting story. That appears to cross even the Mara during the migration season madness. Did not realize this occurred in Indian parks. I think it's a great initiative to put out the correct photography etiquette guide- they should take the hghlights of that and put on billboards at the gates to the parks and give out free pamphlets ( or raise the park fee to cover the pamphlet cost) to all who enter.

Edited by AKR1, 13 April 2016 - 02:40 PM.

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#4 NJW

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 02:48 PM

oops. For some reason only half my post showed up. Corrected.



#5 ellenhighwater

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 04:58 PM

 

 

Unscrupulous photographers are even using tools such as camera traps, bird-call recordings and playback (to entice birds) and remote-controlled devices used for scientific studies in the hope of capturing unique animal behaviour or rare species.

 

Why would camera traps be unscrupulous?  They impact wildlife far less than 10 jeeps full of noisy tourists, or am I missing something?


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#6 Atravelynn

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 05:19 PM

Oh dear, and snow monkeys was high on my list.  Hopefully that first photo is atypical.

 

I know there were several specific instances in India with tigers.  I am sure there are problems, but I have to say that in my 3 trips there, the tigers had the right-of-way, the vehicles stayed on the road, and the cats seemed oblivious to the parade of Gypsies.  It could get to be a zoo for the people and I even had a stranger board our vehicle, but that did not affect the tiger.

 

Photography of fascinating animal behavior ends up so drastically affected by less fascinating but highly predictable human behavior:  The desire to be the best, out-do the rest. Grab the accolades and glory. Unfortunately sometimes at any cost.  Phenomenal photos is the new cool and too many of us gotta be so cool.

 

"A combination of one-upmanship, over-enthusiasm and ambition to be famous is driving people to get what they want. Moreover, to be seen roaming in the wilderness all the time and posting stunning photographs is perceived as cool."


When you think of a rhino, think of a tree (African proverb)

#7 madaboutcheetah

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 06:47 PM

These days many parks have zone controls for those exact reasons - but, I hear some parks they break the rules!

 

My two worst personal experiences was at a wild dog den by a CA based pro photographer in Botswana and 

 

In the Mara at a Malaika sighting .............


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#8 offshorebirder

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 08:16 PM

It seems like having a pamphlet of wildlife photography etiquette rules would be a particularly good thing for self-driving car rental companies to give out with each rental.

 

I recently ran across a Youtube video that seems to be an example of what @Atravelynn quoted - "to be seen roaming in the wilderness all the time and posting stunning photographs is perceived as cool."

 

It was made by some self-drivers through Botswana, Namibia and Zambia.   It is slick and well-produced with some good aspects but also some behavior I think we can all agree is over the line (like throwing meat at a Lion resting in the shade at the 2:30 mark).

 


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#9 Atravelynn

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 09:08 PM

Holy s |-|  i +, he did throw meat to the lion at 2:30 in the above video.  Then declared it a failure.  Yeah,  a failure on many counts.  A big f-in failure. I "liked" your post above for the message, but of course not the unsuitable content of the video.

 

"to be seen roaming in the wilderness all the time and posting stunning photographs is perceived as cool." 

I have seen this kind of comment summed up as "remoter than thou"  which extends beyond just the photo aspect but focuses on where we can put our footprints, egos closely attached.


Edited by Atravelynn, 13 April 2016 - 10:18 PM.

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#10 ellenhighwater

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 10:00 PM

Feeding warthogs from their mouths, leaving oranges out with their gopros to attract elephants.  Pretty sure the flamingos were being scared away by the drone they must have used for this and other shots.  Looks like the ele was NOT happy with the drone.

 

Barf.


Edited by ellenhighwater, 13 April 2016 - 10:06 PM.

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#11 NJW

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 10:22 PM

Ditto on barf.


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#12 Tom Kellie

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 10:27 PM

~ As “foreign” videos aren't viewable here, I sent the link to a Chinese friend studying for a life sciences doctorate in the eastern United States.

 

I asked him what it showed.

 

Affluent young whites’ affinity for helicopter rides, drones and river rafting.”

 

That's a safari-goer demographic I've yet to encounter. I'm in no hurry to do so...

 

Tom K.


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#13 SafariChick

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 10:48 PM

@ellenhighwater I agree that camera traps are not unscrupulous and that video @offshorebirder posted - awful behavior!


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#14 offshorebirder

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 11:13 PM

I agree @ellenhighwater - the Elephant looked very angry at the drone. And I think the pair of Hippos looked scared of it, and the two Rhinos were running from something...

@Tom Kellie - your post made me laugh out loud. Your friend gave an apt description.
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#15 Alexander33

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 12:00 AM

Interesting article. I, too, question how use of a camera trap, in and of itself, would be considered unscrupulous -- so long as the subject was not unduly distressed by it somehow.

The use of bird calls and recordings is a controversial subject. I know that birders not interested in photography at all have used calls and recordings for years. I personally think the American Birding Association's Code of Ethics offers a common sense, balanced approach worth considering: Use calls sparingly if you do use them, and never in heavily birded areas or around nesting sites.

www.aba.org/about/ethics.html

The use of flash is another controversial subject that I recall having seen in another thread last year. From what I have read, there is no conclusive evidence that flash causes any damage, but it can disorient nocturnal species and, thus, make them more susceptible to predation in that manner. Owls, for example, would be a definite no-no.

I inquired about the use of flash on night drives at both Tswalu and Phinda during our safari in South Africa last year, and was told that there were no restrictions at either Reserve. I only used flash on one occasion, and felt that a combination of flashlight and high ISO produced better results. But maybe that's just because I'm a bad photographer.
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#16 Atravelynn

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 12:38 AM


I inquired about the use of flash on night drives at both Tswalu and Phinda during our safari in South Africa last year, and was told that there were no restrictions at either Reserve. I only used flash on one occasion, and felt that a combination of flashlight and high ISO produced better results. But maybe that's just because I'm a bad photographer.

Less glariness sometimes from that method.  That's a technical term.


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#17 Antee

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 06:56 AM

Seems like the poor Snow Monkeys need a "Cheetah for ever"-project as well... 



#18 Tomas

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 07:53 AM

This behavior is probably a problem in most park more or less!

I have seen so many guides driving of road in areas where it is absolutely not allowed destroying the bush. I have seen far too often cars that are crowding the bigger animals especially lions.

I get really angry with the guides and there often young tourists that have no patience what so ever and chancing spot with the car all the time at a sighting, disturbing both the wildlife and the other tourists present. I see too many with only mobile cameras going within a couple of meters of the animals to get a great shot!


Bring a tele lens and binoculars is my advice.

This behavior and that some parks at times is crowded makes the safari experience not to fun. This is my personal opinion but I do not enjoy this parks as much as the more less crowded parks. But a lot of the more popular parks can be secluded also if you know where to go and when.

How this effects the wildlife is under debate but that it gets affected is a fact




#19 cheetah80

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 09:24 AM

It is sad how some people harass the animals to get that perfect photo or footage.  And it seems many people just don't realize how bad this is.  I have lost count on how many times I am asked why I don't have a drone to catch those "classic" running wildebeest and running elephants shots - people don't realize the animals are running because they are annoyed and scared of the noise of the drone!  

 

But it's not only wildlife photographers harassing the animals for a photo, many times it's visitors in general too  - those wanting selfies with cheetahs - and lately leopards in the Mara. I have also witnessed a well-regarded guide in Mana Pools  harassing lions on purpose till they charge so that his guests get their thrill (and ruining the wildlife photographers opportunity for a photo as the lions then fled to the bush)  ... the disco of shining spotlights at night in South Luangwa ... and the list goes on and on.

 

Animals are being treated as entertainment objects with no respect towards them whatsoever - it is high time park authorities and guides raise their standards to be more respectful - and that they resist being pressured by their guests to behave unethically.   


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#20 Tomas

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 12:55 PM

@cheetah80 yes it is depressing to see how many people that do not really care, it is a real joy when you get clients that are knowledgeable or really interested to learn, not only tick of animals, and then move on, but are genially interested. 

Drones are not allowed in the parks of Tanzania if you don’t get a special permission and I think that is good. In Tanzania they have now opened for night safaris in some nat parks and I don’t really know what to think, I myself do night safaris but if it is important during day to behave well and consider the animals it is ten times as important during night. It is a suggestion now that it should be a rule to put a red filter on the lights so not to disturbed the animals. I do not know how much that would really improve this practice. When you shine a light on herbivores they get disorientated and loses their night vision for a while and that stresses them out and put them in danger with a red filter on that is not as bad.

I have also seen bad behavior when they are teasing animals to make them react, sometimes with elephants and not always because they do it on purpose sometimes it is by not knowing how to behave with the animals.

To drive in a park is an art, you really need to recognize the animal’s behavior, to know when to speed up a little or when to slow down. The animals perceive the car like another big animal or strange thing that moves and depending on how you use your car they react. One ground rule is not to take a piece of land from the animals, if you see the elephants heading in one direction make sure that you do not go in the same speed as they towards that location so you will meet them. The elephants are smart and see this and get stressed go a little quicker so you pass the place before the elephant reaches or a little slower and park and enjoy when they pass. But everything you do with the car gets noticed and relaxes or stresses the animals. 

 

Another rule is to be sensitive where the comfort zone of the animals are and be sure to be outside their area you can see it on the animals some more than others.


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