Ethics and animals are the most important

As most of you know I am a very keen (wildlife) photographer, but I’m certainly not in the ‘big league’. I am not one of the photographers that manage to get people to stop in their tracks and say “Wow look at that picture”. Why is that? I cannot blame my equipment as I have some very good equipment – obviously there is always more that I could buy but at this stage, I simply can’t justify it.

Let’s look at some of the ‘wow’ pictures. The wildebeest migration is currently happening in the Masai Mara and there are some stunning pictures being posted on social media sites. Looking at these the other day I mentioned to Andrew that I’d love to go and see this migration. “Don’t waste your time or money” or something along those lines was Andrew’s reply. Andrew and Susi have witnessed this spectacle and they both left feeling angry and disheartened, not because the migration was less that they expected, but rather at the guides.


Even the timid Steenbuck will stay if you don’t get too close

As I understand it there are only a few places where the terrain is suitable for crossing with the rest of the river having high, insurmountable vertical banks. The guides know where these crossing points are and that is where they launch their attack from. Dozens of vehicles nose to bumper jostling for the best vantage points, totally ignoring the fact that the animals need to cross and need space in which to do so. They form an impenetrable barricade of multicolored metal with bazooka sized lenses aiming threateningly out of them. So what about the animals? Some do cross at these barriers and squeeze their way past, some cross and when faced with this barricade, lose their nerve and return to where they came from forcing their way against the stream of animals with needle sharp horns and thrashing knife-sharp hoofs, lose their off-spring and risk their lives for a second time to the hungry crocodiles. But that’s irrelevant as the photographers got their (wow) pictures!

It is not only the wildebeest migration where the animals are put under undue stress but sadly anywhere where there are plenty of people. People become savages at a sighting of a not-so-common animal. They’ll drive right in front of another vehicle totally blocking their sighting, get closer and closer to the animal until its nerve snaps and it bolts for cover but, the pictures were taken.


I took this picture this morning without getting too close and scaring it off!

So what exactly am I trying to say? Quite simply I am saying that ethics, and more importantly the animals, MUST come first. Don’t push the animals until their nerve breaks and they run away and never block their way as you can see where they are heading so leave a passage for them.

I am NOT belittling photographers and this is not a case of ‘sour grapes’, I love to get close to animals for good picture opportunities but I will NOT do this at the animals expense.

Unquestionably the guides are at fault as good sightings = happy clients = good tips. (Being a guide myself I know what it is like to have clients pushing you to do things that you are not comfortable doing but I signed ‘The Code of Ethics’ and I stick to them, bad tip, no tip, I got some (not-so-wow) pictures and I’m happy with them).

Nigel Anderson – Guide for African Insight

(Not so ‘wow’) Photographs: Nigel Anderson

About Andrew Anderson

Managing Director: African Insight - Travel Experiences That Make A Difference African Insight - Explorations Tourism Concessionaire - Somkhanda Game Reserve
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