A photograph is seen with the eye, Created in the mind and Felt in the heart. / These are the moment I try to capture and share with you....

Leave Nothing but Footprints

We often get so excited with anticipation, before we go out hiking or photographing in anticipation of seeing some amazing natural virgin scenery and wildlife.

It does not mater if we are walking, photographing, sightseeing or driving it is a wonderful and treasured moment when we encounter wildlife. Our heart jumps with excitement, when we see deer, wild horses or more exotic animals and even more so when there are the young jumping in a playful manner across the plain, savannah or slither across yards in front of us.

Many get so excited by the experience of seeing wildlife, that they lose sight of the fact this is a wild creature and often results in foolish behaviour.

We need to be fully aware of the creature’s behaviour, which includes its interaction with other species and man. We need be aware of its fears, behaviour, it’s food source and the habitat it occupies.

We should not loose sight, that all animals live in fear, in fear of cold, starvation or being attacked, regardless how timid or ferocious they may appear to us. We need to be aware that our presence may result in a mother leaving her young, that a bird never returns to the nest to feed its young or tend it’s eggs.

Sometimes we come across what appears to us an abandoned animal, but without careful investigation, this could be a mistaken assumption. We are overcome by an urge to become a Samaritan, without realising that our kindness could kill. In our haste and at times ignorance, we miss to think or see that the mother maybe hiding and watching, waiting for us to leave so that she can guide the young to safety. The first thing we do is Touch, spreading our scent all over the youngster, which will lead to certain abandonment by the parent, this is particular true to owls. In some cases the mother will abandoned the youngster, after sensing our scent. With other specie it will not be accepted back into the pack, but will be attacked by its own kind and finally left to die.

Often a young owl maybe on its first virgin flight, awkwardly landing on the ground in slight bewilderment. In the meantime Mum is sitting somewhere high on a branch, fence or hedge, trying to encourage the fledgling to to get back up on a tree, when we come along.

Human’s first instinct is to believe the animal is hurt, abundant, but that could not be further from the truth, as the Mum may be sitting somewhere on a tree, fence or bush watching the young and you. If you then touch it to check if it is hurt or move it, human scent is placed on the young owl and the mother will abandon it.Sometimes we leave it, as we do not have a handy box to place the owl in, or take it straight to the nearest animal centre, where it will have to live in a relative small cage for the rest of its life. Owls once touched and reared by humans, can rarely be returned to the wild, as it is covered in our wonderful human scent.
  1. When encountering a young animal, make sure it is truly abundant first, then check if it is hurt by wearing gloves and rubbing these in the surrounding area dirt or leaves to avoid adding our scent. Then move away, far enough for the parent to be able to return ,but you can still observe the animal. If the bird or animal is in possible danger of being run over by a car or truck, than move it just a little from its spot, otherwise do not touch. Baby owls will sit totally still, even if you prod them
  1. Once you have moved far enough out of sight, then sit and observe to see if the mother will come, these can take several hours. If nothing happens, then again, gloves, rub in dirt take owl, put in a box with lid and holes. Take to expert animal sanctuary, vet etc.
  1. When out and about it is important that we move quietly, not whisper, but speak in a very low voice
  1. Keep your dogs on a led and not let them run havoc, scaring all the wildlife, destroying a lot of the plants and food sources by their behaviour
  1. Teach your children to respect nature, to focus on the beauty and not to scream and screech. That does not just applies to walking in a natural park, forest or other wilderness, but also when visiting Zoos and Animal Sanctuaries

It is important for all photographers no matter if amateur or professional to adhere to the wildlife photographer’s code. Sadly I have witnessed to many overambitious photographers, pro and amateur, getting to close, disturbing nests just to get THAT photograph. All they see is $$$ sign a picture may get them, without thinking for one moment the impact it has on the wildlife.

View wildlife from a safe distance, if the animal stops feeding or resting your are too close.

No image is worth the cost of a life or damage to the environment. We all must take extreme care that we do not disturb the sensitive balance of animal’s birds, insects, and particular during the breeding season and site.

This includes when photographing plants that small or new plants are not trampled by carelessly setting down a camera bag, tripod or your foot. Needless to mention, that no litter should be left. Neither should one take little momentos such as flowers or worse eggs.

I have seen people take their dogs off the lead or harness in a forest allowing it run manic and wild destroying berries, fruits and fungi in their wake, which are the natural food sources for many wildlife.

Teach your children not to take a stick and bash plants mushrooms and berries for fun, as this may result in a species starving to death.

Just follow the countryside and photographers code when wandering out into the countryside or wilderness, maybe one day all we have are pictures.

These rules also apply if you visit Nature Reserves, Animal Parks, Zoo’s and Sanctuaries

Take nothing but Photographs, leave nothing but Footprints, kill nothing but Time

  1. 1.BE PATIENT! Never force the action
  2. 2.NEVER DISTURB any animal or bird during the breeding or nesting time
  5. 5.NEVER GET TO CLOSE TOO NESTS< DENS OR BORROWS, often the parent will abandon the young who than will die a miserable death of starvation.
  8. 8.DO NOT TOUCH, PET ANY WILDLIFE. In particular the young.
  9. 9.Familiarise yourself with the Ecosystem, behaviour of the wildlife.
  10. 10.Keep your dogs on a lead or better still, leave him at home when observing wildlife.
  11. 11.Teach your children the code , love and respect wildlife.

Finally remember

Journal Comments

  • Dmarie Becker
  • ©FoxfireGallery / FloorOne Photography
  • nannajul
  • ©FoxfireGallery / FloorOne Photography
  • nannajul
  • ©FoxfireGallery / FloorOne Photography
  • Lynda   McDonald
  • ©FoxfireGallery / FloorOne Photography
  • ©FoxfireGallery / FloorOne Photography
  • Tambala
  • ©FoxfireGallery / FloorOne Photography
  • louisegreen
  • ©FoxfireGallery / FloorOne Photography