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Environmental, Photography, Wildlife
Lockdown, thankfully, beginning to end, gave me the opportunity to focus my photography a little closer to home. One project I’ve wanted to do for a while is to document some of the new life in Castletown. As you might know, any photography that involves wild birds at or nears their nests is illegal under the Wildlife act 1976. So, I contacted the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and filled out an application form and became licensed under the act.

For anyone thinking of going down the route. The process is simple enough. Fill in the application form and submit. It is almost certain that you will get a follow-up call for the national parks and Wildlife Service regarding the purpose and process you intend to use. 

The whole process was straightforward and the people involved were extremely helpful

The gallery below is the result 

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Wildlife

So, like a lot of people, I’ve been restricted to a very narrow area around my home, first 2km and now widened to 5km this week. This has forced me to re-look at my local area and in particular, Castletown estate. This is the grounds of a grand estate house, built-in 1722 for William Connolly,  the then speaker of the Irish House of Commons.

After a narrow escape in the 1960s, from being “developed”, it was eventually taken in ownership by the state and is now an OPW property. It is a fantastic  resource for the people of Celbridge and it grounds   provide a haven for all sorts of wildlife.

I started taking my Fuji 100-400mm lens on my daily walks through the park and photographing the wildlife I came across on my walks. The gallery below is the result.

For more information on Castletown estate, please visit http://www.castletown.ie

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This is a really positive story from Africa. One of our closest relations, the mountain gorillas have been under serious threat due to habitat loss, war and the market for so called bush meat.

I was luck enough to get to see these magnificent animals in Uganda in 2008 in the Bwindi impenetrable forest in south western Uganda. Its an extremely well run operation.  For a $500 permit fee, you get a guide, armed protection and about 45 minutes contact time with the gorillas.

On our trip, it took about 5 hours on foot to get to where the gorillas were feeding that day and this is at extreme elevations and is very tough.  But… worth all the effort. We met a group of about 25 individuals from a big silverback to very small juveniles.

Some shots from the trip

Juvenile Gorrila     Juvenile Gorrila

WWF – Press Release – Dramatic Increase in Population of Critically Endangered Mountain Gorillas Confirmed by Census

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This is yet another series of images from the Guardian and a good follow-up to the St. Petersburg Tiger summit. The core of the problem is how you deal with local poverty and official corruption and create a value for the tiger alive against the Tiger dead!

Two more shots from my trip to Khana. 

khana-1khana-2

The image on the right is a typical scene in the National parks. The park rangers even without mobiles or radios always know where the tigers are going to be!  In the case of Khana, the owners of the jeeps are all locals aided with a grant to buy the jeeps. In addition you are not allowed into the park unless you use the local drivers and a ranger, also a local.

It gives these guys and their families a real incentive to keep the tigers alive!

Inside Burma’s illegal trade in tigers | Environment | guardian.co.uk

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This is largely a press release by the WWF on the lengthly Tiger summit that has just finished. This is probably the poor tigers last hope for survival. The good news is that all 13 so called “Tiger Countries” participated and a number of well known celebs have jumped on the bandwagon to aid publicity.

The reality is that unless  people living in the tiger ranges make more money by saving the tiger than by poaching, the survival of this magnificent cat will remain in doubt.

A few years ago, I had the privilege to visit India and spend a week in Khana, one of the better national parks. What struck me in particular about Khana was how the park involved local people in all aspects and ensured that the maximum number  were making a living from Tiger tourism.

This is a shot from that trip – this was taken from the back of an elephant.

JT4U9494

 

Oh… – the press release is available  here:

WWF – Press Release – Historic Tiger Summit Closes With Plans to Secure More Financial Backing

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This is a great series of 17 images from the guardian that highlight the ongoing battle to save the Rhino in South Africa. The sad thing in this battle is that the threat to the rhino comes from a desire for posessions and not from habitat loss or competition for food.  There is big demand from Rhino horn all over Asia for use in herbal medicine as an aphrodisiac.

The scale of the problem is highlighted by the WWF, where they reckon that the growth in poaching has gone from circa 36 Rhinos in all of africa in 2005 to 144 in South Africa & Zimbabwe alone.

Africa’s bloody war to save its rhino | Environment | guardian.co.uk

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On June 5th 2009, a film will be released worldwide. It is being released without copyright, without restrictions of any kind – nobody is making money from this film. It is about our collective home, our planet. The person behind this film is a french photographer,one of the worlds great wildlife & natural world photographers and one of my photographic heros; Yann Arthus-Bertrand. An introduction to the project and a preview of the film is available in the embedded movie clip below. As you might expect, the photography in this is stunning and the message a stark one. The movie (and information about the movie & the project behiond it) will be available to watch on the web from tomorrow at: http://www.home-2009.com/us/index.html
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One of the easiest ways to start wildlife photography is to photograph birds in the garden. Luckily, attracting birds to the garden is very easy and the best way to get started is to put out some feeders.  This is something that you need to commit to as an all year round task. Birds can and will used to feeding in your garden and once you start, you should keep it up. The best feeds to get started with are peanuts and mixed seeds. These will attract a wide variety of birds including  coal tits, blue tits, chaffinches, sparrows, greenfinch and starlings. If you want to attract goldfinches, then try putting out Niger seed.  As well as directly feeding birds you can plan you garden shrubs and plants to attract birds and other wildlife. Birdwatch Ireland  have produced an excellent guide  which is available here. Some of the images captured in my garden are featured here
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