Guest blog by Paul Sterry
Bird Photographer of the Year (BPOTY) is an international photography competition and a growing web community of photographers, naturalists and conservationists. Its aims are simple: to celebrate the artistry of bird photography, promote the work of gifted photographers, and support conservation.
For the coming 2020 Competition cycle (which launches at this year’s Birdfair) Bird Photographer of the Year is proud to be able to help World Land Trust. We have given WLT £500 to help kickstart a new project that has the magnificent Sarus Crane at its heart. Working with their long-term Indian partner, the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), WLT will protect critical wetland areas in Uttar Pradesh State in northern India. These wetlands are of key importance for the Sarus Crane Antigone antigone which is classified as Vulnerable on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species.
The BPOTY team sees firsthand the mounting pressures on bird populations around the World and if bird photography is going to thrive and not become metaphorically or literally a dying art we must all do our bit to reverse the decline of bird species and support conservation efforts. At BPOTY our view is that World Class imagery has the potential to inspire people around the globe to care, and maybe shame some into action. We also aim where possible to support financially selected worthy conservation causes.
Over the course of BPOTY’s history it has given more than £5,000 to the British Trust for Ornithology to help with conservation research. However, we all know that the problem is global so we are spreading our wings. For 2019 competition cycle (which completes when Chris Packham hosts the awards ceremony at this year’s Birdfair) we have created a special Inspirational Encounters Award and thanks to the generosity of Wildlife Worldwide £1,500 will be donated towards the conservation project supported by BirdFair 2019. Dubbed ‘Saving Cambodia’s Big Five’ this will secure protection for the Western Siem Pen Wildlife Sanctuary. We are also are proud to be are supporting Hookpod and have given the organisation £500 to kickstart the relationship. Being the ultimate challenge for any bird photographer, seabirds at sea are a particular passion of ours. But an estimated 320,000 seabirds are reckoned to be unintentionally hooked and killed each year by fishing activities, of which 100,000 are albatrosses. For anyone who does not know, Hookpod is an innovative hook solution that has the potential to eliminate the unnecessary deaths of albatrosses and other seabirds killed as a result of longline fishing.
For the coming 2020 Competition cycle we are also pleased to be supporting a project aimed at saving the Bermuda Petrel from extinction and have given £500 to help kickstart the relationship. Working with the Bermuda Audubon Society we are supporting a long-term nest-site programme. The Cahow (to give it its local name) is Bermuda’s national bird and over the years this exquisite grey Pterodroma petrel has acquired almost mythical status, thanks to its remarkable story. You can read more about it on the BPOTY website.
For more information about the conservation aspirations of BPOTY visit the website at https://www.birdpoty.co.uk/ or come and talk to the team in the Bird Photographer of the Year Exhibition Marquee at Birdfair. If you are interested in Gambian birds then Phil Morgan from Morgan Kunda Lodge will be around for a chat between 2.30-3.00pm on Friday 16th August. Our main event – the Awards Ceremony, hosted by Chris Packham – takes place at 4.00pm on Saturday 17th August in the Main Events Marquee, with a book signing afterwards in the adjacent BPOTY Marquee. At 11.00am on Sunday 18th August Megan McCubbin (who masterminds Young BPOTY) will be giving a pop-up lecture in the BPOTY Exhibition Marquee.