2009 Wildlife Photographer of the Year

April 7, 2010

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Wildlife Photographer of the Year - BBC Publishing

On my return from LA, I rushed to see this exhibition on show at the Australian Museum in Sydney as it closes on the 26th April.  The exhibition, now in its 45th year,  is “owned” by the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine, and is designed to promote a wider awareness of wildlife conservation, and to “encourage interpretations of the natural world through art”. There is huge international participation and interest, with many categories and various age groups.

Eyes in the Oasis - Lee Slabber

Eyes in the Oasis - Photographer Lee Slabber

As the exhibition consists of the winning, runner-up and specially commended photographs, the standard is extremely high. I had read in the media that the Overall Winner was disqualified and withdrawn, (although the image is in the accompanying handsome publications) as the wolf jumping over the farmer’s fence was possibly a trained animal rather than a wild one.

The exhibition space was very dark, and with all photographs back lit, they really stood out. I felt the world was still a pristine and beautiful place, and although many images were about survival or full of drama, it was life-affirming. From close-ups of ants and locusts, to a wide variety of animals and birds, plants and landscapes. I felt inspired, refreshed, and calmed – all at once. While not the best photograph, there was a cat frightening off a much bigger fox, and of course big cats featured prominently, including a well known tiger Machali in India’s Ranthambore National Park, that has supposedly contributed $10 million to the local economy, which I hope secures her safety.

Flight of the Locust - Photographer Chris Van Rooyen

Flight of the Locust - Photographer Chris Van Rooyen

Look out for the exhibition (or Google the images) as it travels to over 60 cities around the world,  or if you are a nature photographer, enter yourself  next  year!

6 Responses to “2009 Wildlife Photographer of the Year”

  1. Mary Ann Says:

    Good Afternoon Ace,

    I saw the story of Christian the Lion for the very first time about 2 days ago. The story was so moving I am continually filled with tears of joy and sorrow celebrating the life of Christian, while, at the same time, mourning the loss of your phenomenal friend.

    Words cannot express the sheer joy of seeing Christian with you and John from the time you purchased him at Harrod’s in London to your last reunion with him in 1974. Your unselfish love and devotion to Christian is without question and the way he reciprocates is so genuine it leaves the audience with a sense of euphoria, joy and sadness. The sadness comes from the knowledge that because of your love for each other and the reality of your circumstances, you would inevitably conclude Christian would have to be returned to Africa to live without you but in freedom with the opportunity to live in the wild with his own kind, other lions. Unfortunately you would not be able to live your lives out together in London.

    If one is to imagine what could have happened to Christian if you and John had not happened to be at Harrods and decided to purchase him and give him a good home? It is easy to see you were a miracle in Christian’s life. Christian could have easily suffered the same fate of his parents to live out his life enclosed in small zoo behind bars that would limit his freedom and prevent him from living in a free and open space with a family of his own.

    Your love for Christian drove both of you to the conclusion that you could no longer live in the same space but would have to find a home for Christian where he had a chance at a better life with other lions. That unselfish sacrifice as well as the obvious love and trust displayed by you, John and Christian for each other is what people respond to in the video of your reunions.

    It is sad to realize Christian, as a result of passing years, must have died by this time. But it is a celebration to his life and his legacy as well as the life and legacy of you, John and George Adamson that we must take comfort in knowing Christian lived a meaningful life in freedom as he was meant from the day of his birth. It is only because you, John and George reached out to Christian in love to give back to him the quality and opportunity of a life he was meant to have that any of this occurred.

    This story of your love and devotion to Christian, a lion, is the highest honor. You have inspired me as well as thousands of other people to extend a helping hand to animals around the world to make their world a better place to live. I thank you for that!

    As you have both said, Christian and George Adamson’s legacy is that man and animal can work together to build a world and a relationship to protect and support one another through the ages! That legacy belongs to you and John as well!

    It is only if we take care of each other through mutal bonds of fellowship, understanding and love that we will continue to co-exist on this planet we call Earth.

    Please feel free to contact me at maryann7373@yahooo.com. I welcome your comments and friendship.

    Mary Ann

  2. Lori Says:

    Greetings from Los Angeles. It was nice to read that you had a good time visiting. You really experienced some of So. Cal. fabulous weather. The temperature now is soooo comfortable, the air is clean, and the mountains are covered in green. It lasts for just a short time before the heat comes and everything turns golden-brown.

    You also picked a good time to leave. The earthquake in Baja California was rather large and it had lights and plants swinging the floor was rolling a lot longer than I would have preferred. After the Northridge quake in 1994, I could do without them for a long, long time. I live three miles from the epicenter.

    I have really enjoyed reading your blog. In fact, it is the first one that I have looked at, so I feel that I am slowly, and I do mean slowly, moving more toward using technology.

    I had assistance entering a comment on your blog when it first opened. I wrote that I purchased each of my students the picture book Christian the Lion. The children in my class are 6 years old. I was so excited to hear them read your book. It was a very proud moment. It also has been very touching to see how much they treasure their books. Some of my students are still writing about Christian. They still carry their books in their backpacks.

    We have a lion puppet at school that we use daily with our sound lessons and our workbook. For the last ten years, he has been called Leo. Now, I am no longer allowed to call him Leo. His new name is Christian. The childern have adored your journey. They can even find Engalnd, Kenya and Australia on the map.

    As a young girl, I grew up loving Elsa’s story, and when I discovered the picture book at Target, I couldn’t wait to share it with my class. I have read the children’s chapter book about Christian to them. They have also seen the DVD Christian the Lion at World’s End and an updated DVD from Animal Planet which includes interviews with both you and John. They have questions and thoughts they would like to share with you.

    I’ve received permission from their parents to share some of their thoughts and questions with you. They wrote them with their parnets at home. RS – Dear Ace, How is it like to raise a lion? Did Christian eat anything other that eating meat? My turtle died by old age or he wasn’t eating well John lives in Australia, right?

    ZJ – How is it to live with a lion? Does he only eat meat? I had a fish that died. She died by old age. Is he still alive, Ace? I love your book so much. ( There is a picture of Christian, John, and you.)

    JJ – How did Christian die? Which lion did Christian meet first? Did owning a lion feel good?

    LS – Dear Ace, Is it hard to take care of a lion? Do lions only eat meat and milk? I think lions are beautiful.

    KM – How is it like to take care of a lion? Did Christian have a grandma? My fish died from old age. Are you and John friends?

    DT – How was it having a lion? I had a dog named Latte and he escaped. Then my cousin had a dog that was so cute.

    That is all for now.

    P.S. – My beloved cocker spaniel just died very suddenly. It seems that it had a bigger effect on the children than I expected. Thank you for your time – First Grade

    • acebourke Says:

      I have enjoyed finally reading Born Free! Can you thank everyone for their thoughtful questions – nearly too big a question, or too many to answer. To describe “living with a lion” would take many paragraphs for example. Thankyou for buying the Scrapbook for them – very generous of you. All the answers are of course in the adult or other children’s book and you could possibly get them to answer their questions themselves over time. I loved their questions however and them telling me about their animals. And big thankyou to you too. Most upsetting about the animals they have lost, and the cocker spaniel – lovely dogs. I may still answer as I am very touched by their interest…but it seems like a good class project to work on if they are up to it and not too young. best wishes ACE BOURKE

  3. Jennifer S Says:

    A little off subject but wanted to mention I saw the “Christian Story” for the first time last night..and I am old!

    I am still a sopping, snotty mess
    so very beautiful
    You guys have a very special gift

    I have 4 miniature felines..and have a renewed appreciation for them. Special souls

  4. Hélène Croteau Says:

    Hi ACE,
    I discovered your blog on the Internet and it is very interesting to know about your feelings and impressions about your trips and everything else. The pictures on your blog are beautiful.
    As millions of people, I saw video on You tube about the beautiful and touching Christian’story. Christian has been very lucky to meet you at Harrods in 1969. John and You looked so pleased to see him again in 1971. I noticed on your faces the joy and the sincerity of your feelings at the time of your reunion. I have read the French edition book, curious to learn more about you two and Christian, and I’ve been enchanted this reading. I think that Christian has been very lucky to meet you John and You in 1969.
    When you talk about Christian on video interviews, Ace, I notice your beautiful sensitivity that touches me very very much.
    I understand that you love cats, so let me share with my beautiful and personal cat’s story:In October 2003, I found out a kitten about 4 months old in the grass near of racecourses and its stables. When I called him out, he came to me immediately. I took him in my arms. He was pushing me with its front paws. He was dirty, with a horse’s odor, full of fleas and had a closed eye surely due to an infection. I’ve hesitated at least 5 minutes. What should I do? Keep him with me? Or not and thus abandoning him to sad fate and certain death ?
    Finally I decided to take him home, wash and treat him for fleas. Then I saw he was a female in fact. I called her “Hermione”.
    In 2007 she has been diagnosed diabetes. I must therefore give injections of insulin twice a day. She developed cataracts caused by this disease. It is still quite well but when she is on my balcony at the summer evening, she monitors and easily catches butterflies or other insect. She is very sweet and affectionate with everyone and goes to people easily. She is doing very well now and I am glad I have rescued her more than 6 years ago.
    More about me?
    My name is Helen, I am 60 years old. I am a nurse retired Chief.
    As you, Ace, I live with my Cat “Hermione”.
    I like reading, music, arts, (my father is an artist painter), sciences, film, travel.
    I have traveled quite a previously: Greece, Italy, Bermuda, Mexico (Playa Blanca and Cozumel), Jamaica, Martinique, Caiman Islands, Florida, Hawaii, Vancouver, Paris and Asia: Japan, Hong- Kong, Singapore and Bangkok. The countries that I have the most beloved and which I am remained impregnated is Japan. I wish you to be able to go to Japan.
    I am a passionate of astronomy and biology. I own a telescope and I observe the beauty of the sky as often as possible.
    I dream to travel around the world
    Get the chance to observe a day in the southern sky
    But they are just dreams!
    Hélène XX

  5. Erica Bell Says:

    I especially liked “Flight of the Locust”, included in your post. For a second until I looked more carefully, I thought it was a Japanese kite!

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