How far will you go for THAT shot??

Johan van Zyl All Authors, Johan 1 Comment

All too often we see some pretty crazy behaviour on social media, unfortunately quite often it has to do with animals, and a lot of the times the people that are suppose to educate our visitors about these animals and our wonderful continent, are the ones breaking the rules.  Now, if you are doing this kind of job, and I’m talking from Guiding to conservation to breeding projects etc etc and money is your MAIN focus, YOU might be doing it for the wrong reasons!  Now I might be wrong here, and this is a personal opinion, but most of the time I think this is done so that the guests (the ones you are suppose to educate) can get better images and in turn give you more money.

Trust me, on our Safari’s, we will do whatever it takes but under no circumstances will it affect or influence the behaviour of the animals.  This is where you as a Guide, need to explain and educate why you can’t go closer or have to switch the lights off etc.  During our trips we try and give our guests as many different images and options as possible and one of those would be to photograph some species at night.  This has been questioned by many and again if you speak to 10 different people, you might get 10 different answers, here’s my take.

  1. It has to be a nocturnal animal!  If you’re taking images of diurnal animals, especially potential prey species like Impala at night, for me thats a big NO NO!!
  2. If the animals is actively hunting, all light should be off and no images taken.  Actively hunting I mean stalking or spotting potential prey species.
  3. If its an apex predator and its feeding for example, personally I think it’s ok to take a few images, with the spotlight bounced off the ground, reflecting onto the face.
  4. If it’s a sensitive sighting (any animals with a youngster for me is considered sensitive) then as soon as it gets dark, the animal should be left alone.

Now there are quite a few more examples one can go on and on about, but for me these are the basic principles.  At the end of the day I think people can do just as much damage to animals during the day as they can during the night if they don’t have any ethics.  Last year Gerry and Marlon did a quick video on ethics and how posting videos and images of people interacting with wild animals are creating a false impression of what it is we do.  Now as soon as you have lost fear and respect for an animal, it is probably best to put your camera away and stop going on safari, because time is running out before something will happen to you.  Just by searching the web there are multiple images of Cheetahs climbing on vehicles, cubs jumping on people’s backs etc.  For a lot of people this is seen as a wonderful, true African experience, but do we know what happens to that animal once he attacks a human?  That same animal that was so friendly to you yesterday!  These animals are wild and the chances are, eventually it will turn on you.   We will most likely never stop people from doing these things, but why post it on social media, showing thousands of people just how narrow minded and uneducated you might be or at least creating this impression?

Ok enough ranting…  🙂  Please bear in mind these are all only my personal opinions and experiences, everyone is entitled to their own.  However, experience counts at the end of the day and believe me when I say I have seen the difference between some very unethical guiding or Safaris, and on the contrast, some amazingly respectful and purist guiding.

A month to go before we are off for the migration, can’t wait to share some incredible experiences with our guests!

Till next time and remember, be ethical!  🙂

Johan

About the Author

Johan van Zyl

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The opportunity of visiting some of the wildest, undisturbed areas and sharing my passion for wildlife, conservation and photography with like minded people is a privilege that I am forever grateful.

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