Tigers, gorillas, polar bears, grizzly bears and orang-utans: just five iconic animals on Planet Earth that are not members of the traditional ‘Big 5.’
However, that could be about to change with the launch of the New Big 5 project. Created by British wildlife photographer and journalist Graeme Green and supported by hundreds of international charities, celebrities and wildlife photographers, the New Big 5 is an international initiative to create a New Big 5 of wildlife: the Big 5 of photography, not hunting.
Today is Endangered Species Day, so it couldn’t be more fitting.
What is or was the original ‘Big Five?
Traditionally, the ‘Big Five’ is based on the five toughest animals in Africa to shoot and kill while on foot. It was coined by big-game hunters in colonial times.
- Cape buffalo
The ‘New Big 5’ is all about shooting with a camera, not a gun. It’s about creating a new ‘bucket list’ for travellers, photographers and wildlife lovers to see in their lifetimes.
“The New Big 5 is a celebration of wildlife photography and the incredible animals that exist all around the planet,” said Green, who had the idea while in Botswana. “Shooting with a camera, not a gun is a far better way to celebrate wildlife than the old big 5 of hunting.”
Here are the thoughts of a few of the other wildlife photographers and other supporters of the ‘New Big 5’ project, alongside some stunning photos of some the candidates:
“I’m excited about the New Big 5 project. It says something positive about our world that people are now more interested in photographing wildlife than killing it,” said Tim Laman, photojournalist, cameraman and field biologist who’s worked from Antarctica to Indonesia. His famous photo of an orang-utan high in the canopy won him the title of 2016 Wildlife Photographer of the Year. “Of course, we have a long way to go in wildlife conservation. I support this project in the hope it can bring more attention to the many threats that animals face.”
“The New Big 5 is a brilliant idea,” said Art Wolfe, photographer. “A Big 5 from the photographic point of view is one more brick in a wall that we’re constructing to save many of the creatures around the Earth.”
“What a great project the New Big 5 is,” said Dr Jane Goodall, Founder, The Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace. “There are so many incredible animals in our world, all fascinating in different ways. The animals chosen will reflect the participants’ characters as much as the qualities of the animal themselves. Any project which brings attention to animals, so many of whom are threatened or endangered, is truly important. I hope this project highlights the need to protect the world’s animals.”
“The original Big 5 were selected by trophy hunters as the species they’d most like to hang on their walls,” said Virginia McKenna, Founder, Born Free Foundation. “Society has changed and trophy hunting is on the way out – thank goodness. The New Big 5 is a wonderful project that’s about celebrating life, not death.”
“I’m all for the New Big 5. It is a great idea,” said Chris Packham, British naturalist, TV presenter and wildlife photographer and campaigner. “It’s the perfect way to instigate a transition between something which is no longer ethically, morally or scientifically acceptable, and transforming people’s passion from something which is dead to something which is essentially alive. If hunters were all shooting with cameras, that would be a significant progress. I hope the project helps highlight the urgent need for action to protect the world’s wildlife and our planet.”
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.