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Snapper wins prize for wildlife shots
1:00pm Thursday 2nd January 2014 in News
The Oxford Mail is very proud of its photographers, and justifiably so. Recently, one of our freelance lensmen Andrew Walmsley was a runner-up in the Wildlife Photographer of the year competition for his incredible shots of a troupe of crested macaques captured in Indonesia. The veteran snapper talks here about his exploits in the wild
When I tell people that I spend much of my time at work surrounded by monkeys, they usually give me a knowing nod and tell me that their office is just the same, but what can you expect when the company pays peanuts.
However, for me, the monkeys are literal, not metaphorical.
Picture the scene: it’s five in the morning and you’ve already been creeping through a hot, tangled forest for over an hour in total darkness.
The spot of light cast by your head torch is just enough to stop you tripping over the biggest roots, but the fire ants aren’t so easy to spot, and their bite is quite a wake up call, I promise you.
Why are you here, putting up with the sweat dripping down your back and the maddening itch of insect bites?
Andrew’s image of Sulawesi crested black macaques in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, above, came runner up in the mammal behaviour category of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013, run by the Natural History Museum, London, and BBC Worldwide
Well, this is the only way to see some of our planet’s most iconic wildlife in the flesh, totally wild and untamed, and it’s worth every bite and scratch.
The reason I spend so much time in such situations is that my particular interest as a photographer is in documenting the conservation efforts of small, dedicated groups of people who are giving everything to save the most threatened animals and environments from some of our more destructive tendencies.
Macaques charge each other in battles for dominance
Many of my most memorable days at work involve lying on a beach somewhere as groups of macaques charge each other in battles for dominance; swinging around on the end of a rope in the canopy of a tree waiting for some hornbills to fly past or squatting in some stinking mud, sampling the fruit that rains down as an orangutan enjoys his lunch high above my head. Last June I even had the opportunity to photograph the mountain gorillas, surely one of the most iconic animals in the world.
A mountain gorilla in Rwanda
Having grown up with two conflicting images of gorillas – the ferocious beast in King Kong and the gentle giants hugging David Attenborough, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. In fact, even six months after my encounter, I’m still not sure what to think.
The overwhelming sensation was one of complete awe that such an incredible animal was happy to have me watch him, open mouthed, as he got on with his life. Encounters like this drive my deep conviction that we must do everything we can to save the species with whom we share our planet – from the big, photogenic icons to the tiny invertebrates which might go largely unnoticed, but which prop up the ecosystems on which we depend.
You don’t even have to travel far from home to enjoy nature in its most stunning form, and to help
A Kingsfisher captured by Andrew near Bicester
Last week, after scraping the tropical mud off my camouflage, I spent a week in a small river in the middle of Oxfordshire to see the kingfisher, probably the most beautiful and
easily-overlooked bird in the world. Seeing this bird up close as its iridescent plumage flashed in front of my lens, I was reminded how much incredible wildlife there is to see and photograph, if only you take the time to look.
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