Thank you to everyone who took the time to sign our petition. Guts and I are even further resolved to continue our mission to keep wildlife photography “wild” especially when it comes to competitions like this.
Shortly after launching the petition (which now has over 1000 signatories) I received an email from the organisers of the competition saying (and I quote) “We are aware of the petition and think it will be a great tool for further discussions on the subject of baiting, which is certainly quite topical”.
As I have said previously this is a competition that I have huge respect for as I have been going to see it for as long as I can remember at one of my favourite places in the world – The Natural History Museum, so I was delighted when they invited me to meet with them when I was in London attending a couple of trade shows.
I made my way over to the museum on a glorious winters morning, when the museum is looking its grandest, and met with Gemma Ward who has been running the exhibition for the past 20 years and Helena Jensen who is head of Commercial Intellectual Property.
We had a very pleasant chat over a coffee and I put forward our case. Gemma confirmed that baiting in wildlife photography was a pertinent discussion point within their organisation and among the judges and contributors. Here are some of the key points of our discussion.
Here are some of the key points of our discussion.
- The competition has huge global reach and as such it needs to consider the different cultural approaches to baiting in wildlife photography. Gemma said that generally it’s the Northern Europeans who seem to see baiting as more acceptable and they use the excuse that they have less wildlife and photo opportunities than other countries and regions like the Americas, Africa and Australia. As a global competition, they have to take into account these sensitivities.
- They were unaware that baiting of any animals in a National Reserve or Park would not be allowed under any circumstances by the authorities. Certainly across Africa and I would assume most of the world.
- They were concerned that baited images are difficult to spot. People may not read the rules fully and then submit an image not knowing that the image fell afoul of the rules. The onus, after all, is with the photographer to declare it in the submission. I suggested that perhaps rather than having one tick box to declare that someone has read and understood the rules as a whole to rather have a series of yes or no questions upon submission highlighting the key points to draw attention to the most important rules – especially surrounding ethics, editing and ownership.
- They said that as a result of our efforts (and I’m sure other submissions and lobbying from other concerned parties too) the “ethical policy has now been added to the consultation agenda”. Gemma will kindly keep me informed of all developments.
I want to thank Gemma and Helena for making time to allow me to come and put forward our case on this matter. I found them to be hugely receptive and understanding of our position. I am hopeful that we will sway the opinion of the ethics consultation committee and the biggest wildlife photography competition in the world will feature only “Wild” images in the future.
We will continue with our campaign and have already started engaging with the media in South Africa to ban any baited images from their publications or at least state clearly that bait was used in the capturing of the image.
Thank you all for your support
Toby and Guts