The New Big 5 project is an international initiative to create a new big 5 of wildlife. The Big 5 of photography is supported by many of the world’s leading photographers, conservationists and wildlife lovers, working with international wildlife charities and organisations.
The New Big 5 project which has now launched, is a celebration of wildlife and wildlife photography. The project is the brainchild of Graeme Green, a British photographer, journalist and travel writer;
“The New Big 5 is a simple idea I came up with years ago while on a photo assignment in Botswana. It felt to me like something that should exist. The world’s going through dark and difficult times in 2020. The New Big 5 is an exciting, positive way to get people talking and thinking about the world’s wildlife.
But it has a serious message: the world’s wildlife is in crisis. Urgent action is needed. It’s an incredible world we live in, a far better place with these animals than without. These animals are also vital to our own survival. I hope the New Big 5 can help bring attention and action for all the world’s wildlife, large and small, to stop these animals being lost.” – Graeme Green, Founder, New Big 5
Its asking people around the world to vote for the 5 animals they want to be included in the New Big 5 of Wildlife Photography. Your five favourite animals to photograph, and to see in photos. The project will run for 6 months and the results will be announced later in 2020. The project reaches across wildlife, conservation, arts, photography. Features science & the environmental and travel.
This is an exciting and positive project that I’m delighted to be part of it. It has a serious message that the world’s wildlife is in crisis. The next ten years are critical, more than a million species are currently at risk of extinction. Highlighting the issues using photography, showing us what we will lose if we don’t act now.
Recent evidence suggests that planet earth is at the beginning of its sixth mass extinction event, the most rapid loss of species since dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago. The disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species, caused almost entirely by human activity, will have serious ecological, economic and social consequences, experts have warned.
The project is creating a New Big 5 of wildlife photography, shooting with cameras, not guns. Photographers, conversations and wildlife lovers around the world have chosen the 5 animals in their Big5s. My choices can be found on the following link. What are yours? VOTE here.
As part of my interview the following image above called ” Beautiful Eyes” is part of the project. Its a wild female Sumatran Orangutan high up in the jungle canopy in the rainforests of Sumatra. She was watching her baby playing who was just out of shot. To get the image my guides located a nest, then using ropes at some distance away I climbed up at first light. I then hauled up all my camera gear; my long lens, cameras, wide angle and monopod.
I then just waited for this Sumatran Orangutan to wake from her overnight sleep and emerge from the nest that Orangutans build each night to sleep in. As she woke she moved slowly, fed on leaves, and her baby just started to play just out of reach of her. I watched and waited as she slowly moved, then paused to check on her baby. An incredible encounter, forever captured in this image.
Later on from that encounter she rejoined her baby. I switched to my wide angle lens and as they both looked my way one final time I managed to take this image below of them both before they vanished into the dense jungle.
The New Big 5 project can be seen on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Give the pages a follow and support the work that Graeme Green and his team are doing in bringing this amazing project to the public’s attention.
Over the years during my many trips to the island of Sumatra I’ve done my very best to highlight the plight of the critically endangered Sumatran Orangutans, the issues the island and wildlife face from palm oil plantations and deforestation with my photographs.
From talks, events, articles, and helping conservationists and much more. Below are a few of examples of some of these, just to give you some idea what I’ve witnessed and what this island and these great apes mean to me.
I’ve also shadowed the HOCRU rescue team many times on Sumatra that are doing incredible work to save these critically endangered great apes that get cut off from the primary forest or need rescuing from being held illegally as pets. You’re see some of their work and other projects Ive shadowed in the chosen images below.
I’ve spoken for the Sumatran Orangutans at the Natural History Museum in London, The Green Party Conference, Waves, Portugal, Chester Zoo , Wex Photo HQ, Birdfair and the Spotlight Sumatra event in London.
My images have also been used to illustrate talks for charities helping the Sumatran Orangutans and one such talk was by Bill Oddie as seen below.
I was one of the invited panel of experts for a filmed debate for National Geographic, and specifically their channel Nat Geo Wild . This thought-provoking and inspiring panel discussion focused on the some of the themes that were to be explored in the two upcoming programmes – Paradise Islands and Photo Ark, both streaming on National Geographic
I chose the beautiful Indonesian island of Sumatra to save. Its home to four of the worlds rarest animals; Sumatran Tiger, Sumatran Rhino, Sumatran Elephant and Sumatran Orangutan. They live in one of the worlds must beautiful and diverse rainforest regions on the planet that is sadly being razed to the ground at an alarming rate for palm oil.
Paradise Island explored the small islands that lie between Asia and Australia that can claim to be the biologically richest on earth. The fascinating diversity of life is due to the many millions of years that these islands have remained in the tropics almost untouched.
Photo Ark series presented viewers with an opportunity to get a real close imagery and shots of some of the most endangered species, and highlights the importance of documenting and photographing them.
It was a fascinating discussion and very inspiring for me to hear from the other chosen experts about their experiences, passion and travels adding such a variety to the whole discussions. The panel of experts chosen by National geographic and their partners were as follows;
Adrian Cale, a highly experienced producer, director, cameraman who has travelled around the globe making natural history programmes for the likes of ITV, National Geographic and the BBC.
Will Burrard-Lucus, a wildlife photographer from the UK who uses innovation and technology to achieve fresh perspectives of the natural world.
Nisha Owen the programme manger of ZSL’s Edge of Existence programme, who brought an amazing wealth of knowledge and science to the discussions.
To complement Joel Sartore’s Photo Ark documentary series, Nat Geo Wild brought together a group of experts to discuss what impact this could have on our lives and why we should care during a lively debate on extinctions and their impact on broader ecosystems, and what is being done to protect them and the consequences for the world and its human inhabitants.
I also spoke about the issues facing the wildlife on Sumatra, one such issue regarding the Sumatran Orangutans that are sold illegally into the pet trade. My images were used to help tell one such story that was covered in a previous issue of National Geographic magazine that you can see here.
I had another article that my photographs illustrated in the BBC Wildlife magazine. It covered the Sumatran Orangutans and the amazing work of those on the island trying to save them. You can see the full article on my blog here. More of this work and projects I spoke about on camera can be seen on my conservation page of my website.
I’m hoping to be back in Sumatra soon, but with everything that is happening with COVID19 I don’t know when that will be now. My aim is to get back there as soon as possible and carry on highlighting what is happening in Sumatra.
The Guardian and many other media outlets ran stories and articles to coincide with the launch of the project. Click here to see the Guardian one.
I’d to wish Graeme and his team all the very best with this amazing New Big 5 project. I hope it will highlight what is happening to the orangutans and their forest homes, and also the plight of the worlds wildlife and changes attitudes to how we view and treat those creatures we share this world with and live alongside, many thanks.