As WWF-UK’s picture editor, I’m constantly reminded how wonderful our world is. From a hard-won image of a rare Amur tiger to a touching insight into gorilla behaviour, the following images show why our work has never been more vital.
For the February issue of WWF’s members’ magazine Action, I was asked to select 12 images that show the importance of our work and what conservation has achieved in 2013. Not as easy as it sounds.
I started by sifting through some incredible photos from the field, WWF’s commissioned shoots from last year, plus a selection of conservation images that I’d either used in our publications or that had really moved me.
A few deserve a special mention, before I leave you to simply look at them. There are a few images here to highlight our ongoing campaign to keep oil exploration out of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We want to protect Virunga’s unique species and habitats, but we also want to promote sustainable livelihoods that serve Virunga’s people in a way that oil never can. So I’ve chosen some of photographer Brent Stirton’s portraits of local people, because they are such an important part of the campaign for me.
I’ve also included a picture that highlights one of the tough challenges we’re facing: the worrying rise in poaching. So you’ll see an image used in our campaign to tackle illegal wildlife trade, showing seized poachers’ weapons and confiscated stacks of ivory. It serves as a stark reminder of the need to protect vulnerable species.
There’s also a stunning shot that shows the spirit of true conservation. Last year I sat – captivated – in the audience at WildPhotos 2013 and listened to photographer Toshiji Fukuda. He’s a man who spent 74 freezing days in a remote hide in Russia’s Primorski Krai, where WWF’s Amur leopard adoption project is based, waiting to capture an image of one of the world’s most beautiful creatures – the Amur tiger. He got the shot. I had to include that.
I’ve also picked photography for its surprising nature, such as a stark image of icebergs that shows the fragility of the Arctic, and for the interesting ways that photographers have captured the essence of our adoption species. I don’t think an image is ever just an image. It’s a chance to raise awareness. I hope that my final selection surprises you with the range of work you support to protect habitats, species and people too. And I hope you feel inspired.
My photographic highlight of 2013? Toshiji Fukuda’s beautiful image of an orange Amur tiger, burning bright against a remote icy shore. This image sums up not what we do, but why we do it.
Which images are your favourites? Leave us a comment and we’ll post it on the blog.