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When looking at how I want to use my photography to make an impact, it is these 3 words that spring to mind. They are all separate words, but they all link in and blend with each other. I took a career course a few months back and we had to pick 3 sectors out of a list that sounded like the best fit for us. No matter which were chosen, they could all link in with one another. And, like the 3 words of the course and the 3 words behind SAWildlife, the natural world links together too. Different on the outside to look at, but all fitting in their own place and linking together.

I want to inspire viewers to connect to the world around them. This doesn't have to be a far-flung place, their garden is a brilliant place to start. Once you start observing who is living there, you gain a better understanding of their role in the ecosystem. Perhaps you've lifted a rotting piece of bark to unveil clusters of woodlice, slugs and 'Ew what is THAT?'. THAT could be one of the 57 Centipede species we have here in the UK. Or perhaps, you see something you'd never have seen had you not looked.

I am not afraid to say I am not a fan of woodlice. After an incident of waking up with them falling on my face, these isopods just give me little bit of the creeps. However, by using my camera, in 2021, I managed to witness one eating an exoskeleton. Something I wouldn't have seen had I not willingly connected to my fear. I like to tell this story, which is usually hit back with 'why don't you use that for your sheep fear?' and that is a step too far even for me.

My point in this ramble is: can I get you to connect to that woodlouse, can I get you to be awed by the amount of pollen a bee picks up on its tiny legs or can I get you to care about larger issues such as the war on poaching?

I love sharing wildlife moments that I am able to witness with others and inspire them to feel as excited as I do.

Woodlouse-the 'coolness' of the sighting outweighed any negative feelings.

If you can start to connect with these species, you can start to understand the need to conserve them. Conservation happens everyday.

In the case of SAWildlife, my work needs to have a contribution to conservation. I am working on a collection of prints and homewares to donate funds to those working on the ground in conservation based in the areas I have been to and those further afield who work tirelessly day in day out, literally putting their lives on the line.

As time goes, I will also be bringing stories home of work that is happening now to protect, and preserve species that have a target on their back due to human perceptions.

If I post an image of a species in trouble, I can spread awareness of its status, the threats and organisations dedicated to saving this species. It is also a form of education. For a quick example, a favourite animal on safari is the giraffe, but it's not well known that as a whole species it is 'vulnerable' at 117,000 left in the wild. Some giraffe subspecies range from 'critically endangered' to 'endangered' which is surprising to a lot of people.

So I post a nice photo of a giraffe, a very cute giraffe, and I can then spread its conservation message and link to the only Giraffe focused NGO in the world... and in turn people can learn and donate to their conservation. So two in one: conservation and education.

Giraffe calf with the umbilical cord still attached.
A recently born calf is a lovely example of a 'very cute giraffe'

Connection. Conservation. Communication.

The final element in this circle. Communication is very important as it's something that never stops.

(I toyed with the word 'education' in development of where SAWildlife should go and so communication and education can be interchanged here. I felt communication perhaps reflects what I will do a bit better.)

So we're connected. But to get connected we had to look closer and learn more, so we educated ourselves on the species. We know to plant wildflowers to help the conservation of bees and insects, but we had to learn that, usually by social media or word of mouth. Both which can be great tools.

People who have studied and learnt about behaviours then communicate and spread the word.

Being someone who enjoys learning and finding new things out, like my images, I love to share new found knowledge with others.

I can often be found walking away looking at something that has caught my eye, if I don't know what it is, I take a phone photo, come home and learn, or if I have data, I can ID it in the field. Then, next time I can recognise it and point out interesting things to whoever is with me.

I can then use the image to help other people recognise it or perhaps learn about it. I could just use words alone but an image can help connect the viewer to the subject.

Does this little guy bring a smile to your face?

With my camera and words, I can communicate to people on things they might not have known such as the sentience of an animal through capturing a moment of interaction. I can tell the stories behind the images, stories of experiences and awe-inspiring sightings. I can demonstrate behaviour and the meaning and you can pass that on to your friends. Even little 'fun facts' can have a big impact.

I am a fan of independent businesses and small NGOs and through my work want to support them and spread the word about what they do. You will see in a few months time this starting to come together a little bit more... watch this space.

People can't care about what they don't know, and not all people are the type to sit and read books, or do courses, maybe they can't get out there. So that is my job.

I can communicate with you about conservation and connect you to species both at home and abroad.

This Rhino gave us an insight into maternal power

Until next time!

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