May 16

Arkive would like to introduce The Wait, a short film from production company Contra, which follows the journey of a wildlife photographer on a hunt to document the elusive European bison in its natural habitat of the Romanian mountains. The story details how it can take weeks to capture a shot, and the patience required to wait for this moment.

We have been speaking with Michel d’Oultremont, wildlife photographer and subject of the film, to learn about his motivations for wildlife photography.

Who are you and what is your profession?

Hello, my name is Michel d’Oultremont, I’m 25 years old and I have been a wildlife photographer since the age of 10 – I have had the great fortune of starting very young with an unconditional love for wildlife!

Michel d’Oultremont

Michel d’Oultremont

 

We found The Wait to be very emotive. Can you tell us more about your relationship with the natural world and why you wanted to photograph the European bison?

My relationship with nature is very special – I spend hours and hours in the wild trying to find and observe wildlife. It’s a way of life for me! Since the WWF (Worldwide Wildlife Fund) has started to reintroduce wild bison into the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, it has been a dream of mine to explore this region and to see these spectacular beasts. I’ve always been quite drawn to big animals like bears and muskox, so the bison is the next logical progression of that passion!

European bison © John Ford

Your creativity with the landscape shows through your work, do you have a specific image or style in mind before you begin shooting?

It all depends – I like to capture the animal in its natural habitat, so often I have to relocate to find the best light and environment. Once I’m set up, I wait for an animal to pay me a visit: a nature photo is a meeting – you just have to wait for it to happen. Although sometimes I do think more about the image and I try to realise it in any way I can.

What do you want to say with your photographs, and how do you actually get your photographs to do that?

It may sound stupid, but I try to capture beauty in my photographs, to show the beauty of wildlife. So I try to take photographs that highlight this beauty and make for aesthetically pleasing pictures. When I manage this it is a real pleasure, but it doesn’t happen very often – maybe four or five times in a year.

Short-eared owl fight over a mouse during winter in France, no bait used © Michel d’Oultremont

Is focusing on a reintroduced species of particular importance to you? Do you feel any extra pressure when capturing images of a rare creature?

This type of project is very important because it allows wildlife to come back to its stomping ground. The work of the WWF is very important – they make the reintroduction of wildlife into the mountains possible! I don’t seek out rare animals especially, I photograph everything that happens to pass in front of my lens so it’s more that I am opportunistic.

This picture was taken in Belgium right next to my house, this nice owl decided to nest in a tree that I know very well, a real treat to be able to observe them naturally  © Michel d’Oultremont

Which animals and landscapes would you most like to photograph if you had no constraints?

That’s a really difficult question, there are many species I dream of photographing, like the Persian panther or the Siberian tiger. I would also love to go to the Canadian Arctic to see Polar Bears! There is still a lot to see, and that’s what’s great!

The Wait conveys a sense of solitude and at times loneliness, what is the longest and hardest time you have spent waiting for a subject?

I have had to wait several weeks before finding the subject and light I’ve been hoping for! But this isn’t restrictive because there are always things happening. The most difficult conditions I’ve experienced are without a doubt winter in Norway, where I was caught in a huge snow storm, but I love that these difficult conditions bring a sense of poetry to the images.

“I stayed at a location in Sweden for a week waiting for the singing black grouse. One morning the whole area was frosted, the sun was reflected on a cloud and in the drops of water, which gives these incredibly magical colours!” © Michel d’Oultremont

What is one thing you may recommend in wildlife photography?

The best advice, I think, is to know and research the species well, and do everything you can not to disturb the wildlife.

Top three items you never travel without?

The three things I always travel with – apart from my photographic equipment, of course – are my binoculars that I always take with me, my knife for quickly making a natural shade, and my notebook to try and write down everything I experience in the field.

Romanian Mountains © Michel d’Oultremont

Romanian mountains © John Ford

We’d like to thank Michel for speaking with us. If you’d like to see more of Michel’s work you can visit his website, or find him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also visit The Wait website to watch the film and read more about the team behind it.

May 15

Arkive’s Week in Review — Wildlife News

ICYMI: Arkive has compiled some of the biggest and most interesting headlines from this week.

Article originally published on Friday, May 8, 2015

Researchers find treasure trove of unique, threatened animals in Philippine forest

Palawan-hornbill-perched

Palawan hornbill perched

Researchers are attempting to declare Palawan’s Cleopatra’s Needle Forest Reserve a critical habitat. To be considered a critical habitat the area must support high biodiversity and the animals and plants that live in it must be threatened. Some of the unique species in Palawan include the Palawan bearded pig and the Palawan hornbill.

View original article

Palawan-bearded-pig

Palawan bearded pig

Article originally published on Saturday, May 9, 2015

Black bears chase visitors in Yellowstone National Park

American-black-bear-cinnamon-morph-female-with-cinnamon-and-black-cubs

American black bear, female with cubs

A black bear and her three cubs surprised tourists last week when they appeared on a bridge lined with sightseers. Jack Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, said that “It’s a beautiful animal we can all enjoy. It’s their home. Treat them with respect…”

View original article

Article originally published on Sunday, May 10, 2015

Threat of listing the sage grouse as endangered may be enough to protect the bird

Male-greater-sage-grouse-displaying

Male greater sage-grouse displaying

Simply mentioning the consideration of listing the greater sage grouse as endangered has been enough to raise $424 million since 2010 for restoration and 4.4 million acres of habitat have been conserved.  A loss of habitat and fragmentation has been the primary cause of their decline.

View original article

Article originally published on May 11, 2015

Rhino poaching continues unabated in South Africa

Southern-white-rhinoceros

Southern white rhinoceros

South Africa has already lost 393 rhinos this year. Eighty percent of the world’s rhino population resides in South Africa. Crime syndicates appear to be responsible for the poaching fuelled by a demand for their horns.

View original article

Article originally published on May 12, 2015

The triumph of the bison: Europe’s biggest animal bounces back a century after vanishing

European-bison-resting

European bison resting

In 1927, the European bison became completely extinct in the wild, but since then has made an amazing recovery with over 5,000 bison in existence today. The European bison is found in nine countries, as far west as Germany and as far east as Russia. The most recent country to welcome back the bison was Romania where it had vanished in 1862.

View original article

Article originally published on May 13, 2015

Fewer shark are being caught – and that’s not good news

Blue-shark

Blue shark

Shark catches are down 20 percent from their peak in 2003. In 2003, fishing fleets netted 900,000 metric tons of shark. Unfortunately, however, one of the reasons that shark catches have decreased is simply because there are less sharks.

View original article

Article originally published on Thursday, May 14, 2015

South African Airways bans all wildlife trophies from flights

Caracal-cub

Caracal cub

SAA chose to ban all wildlife trophies on their flights after wildlife traffickers attempted to smuggle ivory to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Species targeted by hunters range from crocodiles to caracals and baboons.

View original article

Young-southern-chacma-baboon-sitting

Young southern chacma baboon sitting

Enjoy your weekend!

William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA

 

Sep 26

Populations of some of Europe’s key animals have increased over the past 50 years, according to recent research.

European bison image

The European bison is one of several species which have increased by more than 3,000% in the last 50 years

Species recovery

Through studying a total of 18 mammal and 19 bird species found across Europe, researchers found that key species, including grey wolves, brown bears and eagles, have increased in number in recent decades. This is welcome news for conservationists, as European animals have not always fared so well over the course of the last few centuries, with habitat loss, pollution and hunting all contributing to the decline of some of the continent’s most charismatic species.

The report, commissioned by conservation group Rewilding Europe, found that all species studied, with the exception of the Iberian lynx, have increased in number since the 1960s. The European bison, Eurasian beaver and white-headed duck were among some of the species whose populations had increased by more than 3,000% in the last 50 years, while several top predators such as the brown bear have doubled in number. The iconic grey wolf has seen serious losses in the past, but this latest research has shown positive progress in its conservation, with numbers climbing by a promising 30%.

Iberian lynx image

The Iberian lynx was the only animal in the study which was found not to have increased in number

Conservation works

People have this general picture of Europe that we’ve lost all our nature and our wildlife,” said Frans Schepers, Director of Rewilding Europe. “I think what the rest of the world can learn from this is that conservation actually works. If we have the resources, a proper strategy, if we use our efforts, it actually works.”

The comeback of European wildlife began in the 1950s and 1960s, and although numbers aren’t anywhere near those present in the 1600s and 1700s, conservationists are encouraged by the increasing populations. It is thought that various factors have contributed to the boost in animal numbers, including better legal protection and hunting limits. In addition, more and more people are moving away from the countryside in favour of cities, leaving more space for wildlife.

Successful areas

Analysis of the research, carried out by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), BirdLife and the European Bird Census Council, found that the south and west of Europe showed the largest comeback for mammals, with the ranges of these species increasing by an average of about 30%. For bird species, average ranges remained stable.

Grey wolf image

The grey wolf, once highly persecuted, has increased by a promising 30%

Concern among farmers

While it is great news for conservationists and for the future of European ecosystems, the recovery of some species, particularly large predators, has raised some issues. With the return of the grey wolf, many farmers, for instance, are concerned for the safety of their livestock.

The report acknowledges the challenges faced by farmers as a result of wildlife increases, and suggests that compensation schemes should be put in place by governments to offset any livestock losses. However, the report also highlights the benefits that rural communities may gain from thriving wildlife, including a boost to local economies as a result of ecotourism.

White-tailed eagle image

The white-tailed eagle was one of the 19 bird species studied

Focussed conservation

The results of this latest research are both encouraging and surprising, as biodiversity on a global scale continues to decline. However, scientists are keen to ensure that conservation efforts continue to build upon the success in Europe, by focussing on positive action and scaling up the conservation movement globally.

There are massive challenges out there globally,” said Professor Jonathan Baillie, Director of Conservation at the Zoological Society of London, “And we have to realise that the threats that Europe creates are not just within our borders, it’s internationally, and that we are having an impact on the 60% decline we’re seeing in low income countries around the world.”

Professor Baillie also highlighted the need to carry on moving forward with European species conservation, saying, “We just have to be aware that into the future there will be increasing pressure for food production and so on within Europe, and for a lot of these species, where we have seen the gains, we might lose them again if we are not careful. So it’s our job to keep our eye on the ball.”

Read more on this story at BBC News – Europe’s key animals ‘making a comeback’.

View photos and videos of European species on ARKive.

 

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Text Author

Apr 19

After a 300-year absence, the European bison is once again freely roaming the forests of Germany.

European bison image

In 1927, no European bison remained in the wild, with just 54 captive individuals being found in zoos

A welcome return to the wild

A small herd of European bison has been released in Germany, marking the first time in over 300 years that this species has roamed the country’s wilderness. Once widespread across Europe and northern Asia, the European bison, also known as the wisent, underwent a dramatic population decline as a result of large-scale deforestation and hunting. By the 1920s, the species was extinct in the wild, and only 54 captive individuals remained.

Reintroduction programmes began in the 1950s, and since then the European bison has successfully been released in forests in ten countries, including Belarus, Poland, Russia, Lithuania, the Ukraine and Slovakia. However, Germany has this month become the first western European nation to see the bison return to its borders.

European bison herd image

The European bison is classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List

Unhindered herd

For the last three years, the small herd of just eight bison has been held within a 220 acre pen. Researchers have been monitoring the group, which comprises one male, five females and two calves, and have conducted several studies relating to the animals’ release.

Experts have deemed that the bison pose no danger to humans, and so the decision was made to allow the herd to roam unhindered in the Rothaar Mountains of North Rhine-Westphalia. Officials took down the fence earlier this month, enabling the bison to enter Germany’s forests, and it is hoped that the small herd will grow in number to include around 25 individuals. Two of the bison have been fitted with radio transmitters so that scientists can track and monitor them.

European bison image

Once extinct in the wild, there are now 1,800 European bison roaming free in Europe

Successful reintroductions

An interesting reintroduction study is currently being conducted in Pleistocene Park, a protected area in northern Siberia. Researchers are investigating the effects of returning bison and other large native animals to the region, to see if the area is returned to the steppe ecosystem which was present during the Pleistocene epoch.

Reintroduction of the European bison within its historic range has so far proved successful, with an impressive 1,800 individuals now roaming the wild, all of which have stemmed from the 54 captive individuals.

Read more on this story at Mongabay.com – Bison return to Germany after 300 year absence.

View photos and videos of European bison on ARKive.

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Text Author

About

RSS feedArkive.org is the place for films, photos and facts about endangered species. Subscribe to our blog today to keep up to date!

Email updates

Sign up to receive a regular email digest of Arkive blog posts.
Preferred frequency:

Recent posts

Arkive twitter

Twitter: ARKive