Wildlife photography have more and more followers and every day hundreds of new Wildlife photographer roam natural habitats in search of the exceptional picture! However even if wildlife photography has often helped to publicize wildlife and raise awareness to the protection of biodiversity, it is imperative that all those who wish to practice the wildlife photography are aware of the impact they may have on their subjects.
I therefore venture to deliver here, my thoughts on the subject. It is very difficult to be concise and categorical on the subject, situations can be different from one region to another, from one species to another and from one method to the other, and I hope that you can understand the spirit of my writing without thinking that I want to give you here any moral lesson.
Here are my tips and tracks for a reasoned approach to wildlife photography, respectful of species, habitats and populations encountered.
It is very important to learn about the biology and ethology of animals that you want to photograph. Knowing the behavior of the animal, its lifestyle and its weaknesses allows you to do better shoot.
Follow the laws
Nobody is supposed to ignore the law, some of which here below according to wildlife photography in France.
Some animals because of their rarity are protected by law, the Environmental Code Art. L. 411-1.
"The destruction or removal of eggs or nests, the mutilation, destruction, capture or kidnapping, deliberate disturbance, naturalization of animals of those species, whether alive or dead, their transport, peddling, use, keeping, offering for sale, sale or purchase are forbidden " .
The species of fauna and flora are included in national and regional lists, it is for everyone to know. It includes, among others in France, all birds (except those declared hunting game ) , the hedgehog, amphibians and reptiles, wild orchids, dragonflies, butterflies, etc.
For endangered species (listed in the Order of 9 July 1999); Search, pursuit, shooting or sound recording and wildlife photography are regulated.
An article (L133-1) of the forest code allows to close, if necessary and to avoid any disturbances, the sensitive areas for wildlife (deer mating places, birds of prey's nest aera among others).
The Order of 1 August 1986 prohibits the search or the pursuit with light sources of game.
Foot traffic in the country is allowed everywhere except in the closed and fenced properties. It is recommended whenever possible to request permissions to owners especially when you are setting up a hide for a long time.
It is therefore highly recommended to inquire about laws
Respect your models
The animals in some countries are under constant stress due to hunting and human pressure. They are fearful and worried, enter their fields to photograph is never trivial for them. For those animals you must have to be inconspicuous, or you will stress them a little more!
All animals fleeing away (flight distance in animals behavior is the distance from which an threatening element urge the animal to flee), it should be respected, both for comfort and tranquility of the animal and for the safety of the photographer. In the case of approaching group of animals, do not come in between individuals, it causes a feeling of insecurity for these animals. This is especially true for mothers-/ cub groups and this can be very dangerous for the photographer with some species (bears, big cats ...).
you should be very careful when shooting very young animals, the insistence of the photographer can lead to their abandonment by parents, delivering them to certain death.
Photography of animals during breeding period is always delicate, clumsiness may compromise the reproduction of the year. The photographs of birds in the nest are very difficult to achieve, in all cases, even for those who think the situation under control, they are still taking a risk of abandonment of the brood.
It is not suitable to continue, cast, harass, frighten animals for an action.picture
Nocturnal species may be dazzled by too strong lights, their glare depends on the ambient light, the sensitivity of their retina and orientation of the light beam. In general, do not directly illuminate in front. The eyes of owls are particularly susceptible to flash lightning, animals are dazzled by lightning and can not hunt for several minutes
The migrating animals make a long and perilous journey, it is advisable to be very careful not to force them to make additional efforts by the escape or chasing them from their feeding areas (this is especially true for young of the year).
Avoid putting insects in the refrigerator to reduce their eagerness to escape your goal, it is more convenient to enjoy the natural numbing morning to make your shot.
Photographing fish out of water is neither aesthetic nor pleasant for the model! At a minimum they must be put in an aquarium paying attention to the quality of the water or what is better, to immerse yourselves to photograph theim in their homes!
The hibernating animals (such as bats) seem not to be easily disturbed, however each of your passages nearby will draw from their deep sleep. Hibernation is a critical time for these animals while they live in slow motion by consuming the fat accumulated during the summer, and this could be deadly for them.
Respect the habitat of your subjects
If you are photographing exotic animals bought in pet store (reptiles, insects, birds, etc.), never releasing them into the wild, their arrival in a new environment can lead to the disappearance of local species!
Do not change your models environment by cutting harmful herbs for shooting, it can reveal the
presence of your model to its predator!
Handling wild animals
We must always preserve the well-being of the animal, even if certain species seem to tolerate "good" handling, it remains stressful because it is unusual for a wild animal.
Please note this is prohibited by law for certain species!
It should be remembered that:
When handling cold-blooded animals (reptiles, amphibians), you warm your model by contact, which can compromise its survival!
When handling amphibians wet your hands first if not, you remove the protective mucus that they have on the surface of the skin, this mucus is vital that they do not dry out!
Take care of the diseases you can spread, currently many amphibians are dying from chytrid fungus is a fungal infection that attacks the skin. You can unknowingly carry the fungus from a pond to another on your hands or even on your boots.
If you wear latex gloves when handling exotic amphibians, talc think they are coated can be toxic to them.
The animals live in their territories they knowl them perfectly, they know where to find food, avoid predators and they have their home. Be sure to release them to the spot where you found them!
Manipulate insects is very difficult because they are so small and fragile, it is best to avoid any manipulation in particular for butterflies.
Attract or bait wildlife
While it is true that feeding wild animals in times of scarcity seems a good idea, it can also be harmful to them. Be careful to provide adequate food, maintain proper feeder (groupings facilitate disease transmission), not to make the animals dependent on your feeding, not to favor predation. Feeding or baiting of large animals may give rise to conflicts animal / human, the animal make the relation between food and human and therefore he approaches the villages and people in order to seek his food and that's where the trouble start for him!
Attract animals by broadcasting recordings of their calls and / or songs or spreading pheromones is not trivial, it changes their behavior and disorder their current activities.
Photographing captive animals
By photographing captive animals in parks, zoos or coming from shops, you maintain the capture of wild animals and their captivity ! It is for you to judge, to know what justifies that wild animals are trapped is it a work for protection or a business for money or whatever... You have to think about that and then choose.
Traveling in protected area
Learn about local regulations and stick to it.
Bring your trash with you, leave behind you only your footprints!
In sensitive natural areas, if you stay several days; consider using fully biodegradable toiletries.
Do not pick or remove anything, do not buy memory made with wild animal.
By purchasing animals caught by local communities for photography, you contribute to the establishment of a trade that will surely endanger the survival of the animals.
Do not drive or walk out of trails or tracks allowed.
Avoid staying on a spot where you feel the animals are disturbed by your presence.
Each time you go tinto the wild, is good to remember that all outdoor activities have a significant impact on the environment and it would be shame if the wildlife photographer become a threat in addition !!!
Wildlife photography is a very beautiful way to discover nature, keep it an exemplary reputability.