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  • Writer's pictureKaren-Jane Dudley

Rewarding nature

To spend time living close to nature is a reward in itself, its experience allows time to absorb the rich diversity of natural wealth and beauty this planet holds, more importantly it brings closer an understanding of our own fragile existence and our role to help protect and preserve the fine balance of nature to which we belong

What entitlement were we given to dominate, destroy, intimidate or disrespect nature? Will our insistent push towards global domination become our eventual downfall ?

Our demands on the natural world are far reaching, for which we are now sadly all too aware of.

Extinction levels are critical, each day we see the tragic loss of specie, its final fate to become yet another sad statistic on the lengthening list... 

As a wildlife photographer my role within the realms of nature is to visually demonstrate its beauty through the power of imagery, but how far do we enforce this role before we become intrusive?

Our quest for knowledge and understanding of the biodiversity and existence of many stunning species that still grace this earth will continue to grow in its intensity, with demands for photographic images that may inevitably become our only sad preservation of their existence.

We can sit and do nothing or we can pledge a commitment to ensure that future generations will be gifted the opportunity to witness the natural richness of this planet and its diversity.

How do we justify and abide by the laws of nature, to ensure that no matter what the demands of the cutting edge image required to depict the drama of the daily life and death struggle of the natural world?

The answer is simple; it will come down to our individual conscience, TAKE nothing from nature! Simply strive to preserve its vision.

To earn a living from nature holds a magnitude of rewards, but should never be influenced by material gain alone, the greater reward is priceless… the wealth in pride at being granted time to become part of that world.

It is vital we address and correct any act that regards wildlife as a prized commodity for personal gain.

Copyright laws protect ownership of photographic images and privacy laws to stop personal intrusion…Why do we choose not to implement these laws for nature’s protection and privacy?

Should an animal chooses to distance herself from the camera, who are we to demand she poses for the perfect image, it is her given right to privacy, this fact must be respected... We do not own her... 

Our patience and understanding of wildlife should never be forgotten.

Allow time for your presence to be accepted, taking a gentle and sensitive approach, never crossing natural boundaries or implementing artificial means to entice for our own benefit. Wildlife will never be dominated or respond to demands.

Work in harmony with nature, we are part of it.

How do we reward nature?

In a world dominated by technology our insight into the natural world has taken on another dimension in our ability to explore deeper and examine more closely the complex world of the animal kingdom, but we also need to evaluate our role with the camera and look at the broader picture. Is it truly respectable to pursue or invade to gain that ultimate “money image “at nature’s expense? 

A balance needs to be set.

I have personally never been influenced by material gain, with many images published and freely donated for the provision of educational material to demonstrate the beauty of nature or given back by way of royalties to vital conservation causes... My gain is far greater as a conservationist, custodian, protector and guardian of nature

How can we utilise advancement in photographic technology to reward? ...By giving nature her “voice”

Allowing wildlife to use the camera and lens as a “ voice” will assist to grant a greater and deeper understanding into their language, to share in their pain, anxiety, and fears and also joy,

The responsibility as a photographer is to relay these messages through our images, by listening, observing and giving nature the opportunity to “ speak “ and the ability to connect and communicate in their own language, They will reward and respect in return, 

Our ability to capture the dramatic scenes of the final moments of a lion pride on a hunt is a vision of aggression that continually shrouds the lion, but what is the real truth behind this drama?

It is the truth of existence… by offering its life to the lion, the prey will also sustain life, the important message lost through our own interpretation of the language of nature , 

This instilled perception of the predatory species is one of a brutal and ruthless existence, but the privileged experience of spending time in the close company of lions, reveals a gentle, caring and strong family bond that we so sadly choose to overlook, to share in their world is a humbling experience,

The power of a lion looking directly back at you , speaking his message, never once threatening but full of gentleness and warmth will instil a spirit that can never be erased or washed away 

From the Coliseum games to circus shows, humans have always had curiosity to witness just how powerful and aggressive a predator can be. It’s time to change our vision; to start to see their tender and loving nature, with a gentle approach these magnificent animals will graciously accept our close presence

Look into the eyes of a lioness and see her pure soul, her messages are clear to see,

“Do not see me as a predator only, 

I am a mother; I will defend my children and family as you would defend yours

This planet we live on, the air we breathe, common bonds we share

We do not destroy your lives, yet you choose to destroy ours

You invade our homelands, we do not invade yours

Your laws protect you, who protect us?

You hunt for pleasure, we hunt to survive

You rage wars; we choose to live in harmony

My existence is vulnerable, as is yours “  

Grant me your respect, I will never disrespect you 

All I ask of you is please listen “

Remember the camera will record natures messages, how we choose to decipher or interpret their messages only time will tell,

It is never wise to look through the lens and take it all for granted, what you see today maybe gone tomorrow it is down to us to take notice, listen and take positive action, 

With the world of digital photography booming and opening up opportunities for everyone to enjoy and explore the world of photography, more and more pressure will be placed upon the natural world, having witnessed myself groups surrounding a terrified animal in order to gain an image,

 Think before you act, if you are in their domain act responsibly, never harass, corner or intimidate,

Give them time, space and respect,

 An aggressive approach or act of intimidation to gain a photograph is not acceptable in our daily lives, why should wildlife be subject to this act, we do not own nature we are part of it  

No matter how expensive the equipment, the camera is only the tool that records what we see, it is down to the individual photographers knowledge, patience and understanding of nature that will produce results that will cause little or no impact to our natural world

I have been asked on many occasions as to the most dangerous animal I have ever worked with, my answer is simple ……………..MANKIND 

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