Wildlife Photographer Of The Year

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit, co-owned by BBC Worldwide and the Natural History Museum, is a competition that showcases the best of the best when it comes to nature and wildlife photography. For a second year, the exhibit is being shown at the ROM in Toronto and I made sure to stop by this past weekend before it closes on March 22.

Last years exhibit was pretty spectacular and this years did not disappoint with photographers of all ages and skill levels from around the world showcasing their talents.

Some photos make an impact simply because they are visually stunning and others because they also relay a message, reflect the times we live in or show us where we may be headed. There are too many to mention here, but I will narrow down a few of my favorites starting with the Grand title winner Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols and his ethereal black and white piece The Last Great Picture.

Michael 'Nick' Nichols, USA, Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Natural History Museum, BBC Worldwide, Lions, The Vumbi pride , Tanzania, Serengeti National Park , Lioness, Lion Cubs, Kopje, Rocky Outcrop, Wildlife Photography, Africa, Save Lions, Ban Canned Hunting, Ban Trophy Hunting, Lions are not trophies, Ethical Tourism, Voice for the pride, Big Cats Forever, National Geographic, Save Habitat, Stop Poaching of Lions, Learn to Live with Wildlife, Apex predators,

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014, Grand title winner, Black and White, Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols, USA The last great pictureImage © Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols

Taken in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, 5 Lionesses part of the Vumbi pride are captured as they lay on a rocky outcrop called a Kopje resting with their cubs, exhausted after having driven off the prides two males.”  What makes this image even more poignant is that it would be the last time he would photograph them all together. A few months later he learned that they had ventured outside the park and that three of the five females had been killed.

Next is Finalist David Lloyd with his photo The enchanted woodland and I have to say the combination of Leopard and Yellow fever tree is captivating. Taken in Kenya’s Lake Nukuru National Park this is a perfectly timed photo of a Leopard looking as if he was just waiting to be photographed.

Among the finalists in the youth category I picked The watchful cheetah by Leon Petrinos ‘You can tell the animal’s feelings from the look in the eye, the way the fur lies and how the ears move,’ says Leon. He particularly likes portraits, he says, because ‘the animal’s feelings talk to you’.

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Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014, Finalist, The Watchful Cheetah – Image © Leon Petrinos, Greece

Vanishing lions taken in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve by Skye Meaker another finalist in the youth category, gives us a picture with a strong message behind it. ‘I want the picture to raise awareness that lions are a vulnerable species,’ he says. ‘To me, this picture conveys the feeling that lions are fading from Africa.’  With fewer than 25,000 Lions estimated to be left across the continent, this young photography doesn’t realize how accurate his statement is.

Special Award: Wildlife Photojournalist of the year went to Brent Stirton from South Africa for his portfolio on how the lives of Lions are linked to humans in Bred to be killed which also highlights the practice of canned hunting. Hopefully having this appalling industry exposed through a mainstream exhibit will show thousands of people why the world has rallied to fight against it.

From the World in Our Hands category one of my all time favorites and finalist, Hollywood Cougar by photographer Steve Winter.

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Finalist 2014, World in our Hands, Steve Winter, USA,  Hollywood Cougar – Image © Steve Winter

For more award-winning images check out the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit online or in person when it comes to your city.

A Year In Review

Today marks the one year anniversary of Purr and Roar, and what a year it has been! I can best describe it as being a fun, challenging and ongoing learning experience, one that I have been fortunate enough to share with a great community of people.  A special thanks to all who have read, shared and supported this blog!

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In honor of this day I thought it would be appropriate to celebrate by listing a few highlights starting with the first post on March 15 2014. The date is significant as it happened to coincide with a very important cause that I am actively involved in supporting.

The Global March For Lions

For anyone wishing to know more about this issue and the status of the African Lion check under the category of Lions or Global March For Lions on my home page.

Let’s Talk About Your Cat

Let's Talk About Your Cat, Cats, Kittens, cat stories, rescue, adoption, Purr and Roar,

I love the stories that come along with cat adoption, and I love sharing them. This past year I have had some pretty interesting cats featured, but one of my favorites Xander the rescued lab cat was extra special. If you would like to have your cats story included in an edition of Let’s Talk About Your Cat be sure to leave me a message.

On The Trail of Big Cats

 Big cats, Big Cats Forever, conservation, Cougars, Jaguars, Nat Geo Live, Photography, rat poison and wildlife, Snow Leopards, Steve Winter, Tigers, wildlife photography, Steve Winter Photography

Going to see award-winning photographer Steve Winter at a National Geographic Live Lecture series last October was a major highlight. Later I wrote On The Trail of Big Cats and had it picked up by Nat Geo Live on Facebook, and then by Steve Winter on Twitter. I was extremely honored by the acknowledgment and made sure to grab this screen shot.

10 Years Hundreds of Cats

cats, kittens, volunteer, cat cuddler, Toronto Animal Services, foster, cat rescue, cat adoptions, donateCelebrating my 10 year anniversary as a cat volunteer with Toronto Animal Services and receiving a special feature on their site was pretty awesome and a reminder of how time sure does fly when you are around cats!

Lanai’s Little Lions

cats, Kittens, Hawaii, Hawaiian Islands, Lanai, Lana Animal Rescue Center, LARC, stray cats, Kathy Carroll, Travel, Volunterring in Hawaii, Adopt cats in Hawaii, cat paradise, cat rescue in Hawaii

Time for Treats aka cat herding at Lanai Animal Rescue Center

Visiting the Lanai Animal Rescue Center in Hawaii where I met some wonderful people and saw first hand how this amazing organization helps the many homeless, stray and abandoned cats on the island.

Grumpy Cat

Grumpy Cat, Tardar Sauce, Famous Internet Cats, Cats, Internet Meme, Toronto, Eaton Center, Indigo book store, Grumpy Guide to Life

Frown? No!

Meeting Grumpy Cat on her North American Book Tour here in Toronto was loads of fun, but also awful.

World Lion Day

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Image – Rob Janisch – World Lion Day

Honoring World Lion Day by interviewing my friend, extraordinary African safari guide and lover of Lions Rob Janisch to get the home perspective on this iconic species.

My Name is Bob

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And, last but not least, being asked by the publisher to write a review for the children’s book, and one of my favorites, My Name is Bob.

Thanks again to everyone and be sure to check out Purr and Roar on  Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where you will find lots more on all cats, both big and small.

Victory For Lions In Australia!

I woke up this morning to read an email from Campaign Against Canned Hunting and had to share! Everyone who has been working to make this happen everywhere keep up the fight, I always said that all of us can make a difference. Let’s make this happen for the rest of the world! USA, Canada and Europe you are next! Happy Friday!

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Don’t be bringing your trophy heads into Australia anymore.

From the Herald Sun  March 13, 2015 7:01PM 

Federal Environment Minister and Member for Flinders Greg Hunt made the announcement at 6pm. The ban followed a campaign to end the importation of lion trophies by La Trobe Federal Liberal MP Jason Wood.

“Canned hunting is real. It exists. It shouldn’t exist,” Mr Hunt said. “It is done in inhumane conditions. It is involving things such as raising and then drugging and in many cases, baiting.

“I have signed an order to prevent the importation into Australia of African lion parts and remains. This order will take effect immediately.”

Mr Wood called the ban historic and said he hoped the rest of the world follow.

He thanked Ferny Creek’s Donalea Patman for bringing the issue to his attention.

“The practice of canned hunting is completely unacceptable,” he said.

“Australia has taken the first step, now let’s hope the rest of the world follows suit and says no to canned hunting.”

For the full article please read here

Have You Spoken Up For Lions?

This year I took part in, and helped organize the Global March For Lions Toronto event. It was a great day with lots of people coming out to bring awareness to the practice of Canned Hunting and the plight of African Lions who are being bred in captivity only to be killed by trophy hunters.

This is a short video from the event day and it tells you why we were out braving the Canadian cold.

To all readers, and especially if you are in the USA, please take time to contact the USFWS to ask them to ban all importation of Lion Trophies into the USA and to list the African Lion as Endangered. Killing is not conservation and allowing hunting of Lions will not save them.

Comments are being received here until January 27, 2015 so please speak up and share widely to help prevent this magnificent species from heading into extinction.

Don’t Pet The Cat

While volunteering in South Africa many years back I had the chance encounter to hear Chris Mercer of the Campaign Against Canned Hunting speak. I was aware of Trophy Hunting, but what Chris spoke about was almost to terrible to be real, it was the dark world of Canned Hunting.

A huge part of the industry is where the volunteers come in. Lions are bred, the cubs taken from their mothers and sent to facilities where volunteers pay to bottle feed, pet, play and interact with them. For some, an opportunity to do all of the above under the guise of volunteering and conservation may be tempting, however what most don’t realize is once the cubs are too big for volunteers they end up in canned hunting facilities.

Volunteering  –  it’s not about “you” it’s about “them”

Lions, Ethical Tourism,  World Lion Day,Global March For Lions, Endangered, Extinction, Big Cats, Africa, South Africa, Canned Hunting, Trophy Hunting, Ban imports of Lion Trophies, USFWS, conservation, poaching,

The end result for these cubs is ultimately death, at the hands of hunters. Volunteers play a key role in the fate of these animals.

Facebook group Volunteers in Africa Beware has formed to expose the places and organizations that support canned hunting and Lion breeding facilities. It is an excellent resource for anyone who is thinking of volunteering with animals in South Africa. They have compiled a list what to ask and do before you commit to a placement.

– Do they have cubs regularly?
– Are volunteers allowed to pet and raise the cubs?
– Where is the cub’s mother?
– Why is the cub not being raised by its mother?
– What happens to the cubs when they grow up?
– Do they keep all the animals and cubs forever?
– Do they sell or trade lions? If so, with whom?
– Do they release animals back into the wild? If so, ask for proof that shows when and where these releases have happened and that they follow an ethical release process. (Note, lions are never released back into the wild!)
– Do they allow interaction between the animals and the public/volunteers? Why?
– Are they part of a breeding program? For what purpose?
– If they breed tigers, are they part of the International Tiger Stud books? Ask to see proof.
– What happens to the animals they can’t keep?
– How is the project contributing towards education and conservation?
– Are they a not for profit organization? If so, ask for their NPO number!

– Captive-bred lions serve absolutely no conservation purpose. So do not believe it if you are told they are breeding to safe-guard the future of wild lions or to ensure good genetics. It’s simply not true.
– NO genuine conservation project allows cub petting or walking with lions or swimming with tigers. EVER!
– No genuine conservation project breeds captive lions. Their lions are on contraception or de-sexed to prevent breeding. There are already too many captive-bred lions!
– Do not believe it if they tell you lions are being released back into the wild. They are not. Ever.
– Just because it is called a “sanctuary” or “rehabilitation centre” or “reserve” does not mean they actually are these things. Sanctuaries keep all their animals forever. Rehabilitation centres rescue injured animals and release them back into the wild. And reserve doesn’t mean much… There are hunting “reserves” out there too…
– Many unethical projects hide behind “research”. Ask what exactly is this research? Which institutions support this research? Ask to see recent published articles and findings from the research. Most of them will not be able to provide this. Be very careful of lion breeders using research as a defense!
– There are lots of tiger breeding facilities in South Africa. Almost none of them are using genuine pure-bred tigers which means those tigers serve no conservation purpose. Only pure-bred tigers are listed in the International Tiger Studbooks and are part of official tiger breeding programs.
– If they say they trade with other reserves, sell to reserves only or only to “people with valid permits”. Ask which reserves. Do the animals stay at these reserves forever or are they traded on again from there? Remember many of these places sell to the canned hunting industry and the canned hunters and buyers have “valid legal permits”. So don’t be fooled by this. It’s a way breeders mask that their lions are sold to hunters because they don’t sell directly to them. Rather they sell to someone else and then that place might sell to hunting outfits. Ask for specific details!
– Lion breeders do not want you to know the truth: the vast majority of those cubs and lions end up as hunting trophies and they breed those cubs so volunteers will pay to raise them. Their bottom line is profit, not conservation. They will lie or ignore questions they don’t like you asking and they are very good at this!

Lions, Ethical Tourism,  World Lion Day,Global March For Lions, Endangered, Extinction, Big Cats, Africa, South Africa, Canned Hunting, Trophy Hunting, Ban imports of Lion Trophies, USFWS, conservation, poaching,

ASK QUESTIONS, DO RESEARCH and COMPARE PROJECTS BEFORE YOU GO! And if you are still in doubt, check the good, bad and ugly list of projects or contact them.

Wisdom Wednesday Quote

One of my favorite quotes came to mind after reading an article that the South African Government released a statement saying Canned Lion Hunting is “legitimate” and that we should “set aside the emotion” and reconsider it. If you aren’t familiar with the practice of Canned Lion Hunting check out my post on the Global March For Lions which was a world-wide initiative to raise awareness of this practice.

 “Whenever people say “We mustn’t be sentimental,” you can take it they are about to do something cruel. And if they add “We must be realistic,” they mean they are going to make money out of it.” – Brigid Brophy Lions, Global March For Lions, Campaing Against Canned Hunting, Ban Canned Hunting, ban trophy hunting, bigcats, South Africa, save lions

 For more information on the practice of Canned Hunting, how you can get involved and help please visit Campaign Against Canned Hunting (CACH)


African Lions – The US And Canada

20 years ago I wouldn’t have imagined that the African Lion would be on the verge of extinction or that people the world over would gather to bring awareness to the practice of Canned Lion Hunting in South Africa – an industry that is directly linked to Trophy Hunting.

The US imports 55% of African Lion Trophies making it the biggest player on the field and the pro-hunting lobby believe that the African Lion does not require protection nor is it endangered. They want the right to hunt and kill them no matter what the facts are, never mind morals or ethics.

Over the past 50 years Africa’s lion populations have plummeted from over 200,000 individuals back in the 1960’s to fewer than 25,000 today… by far the greatest number of remaining lion populations are small, scattered, and highly vulnerable… In fact the rate of decline in lion numbers is accelerating.” source LionAid

While there are many factors contributing to the decline of Lions, removing trophy hunting from the equation means one less pressure the already dwindling lion populations will have to deal with. The  decision on whether or not the African Lion will be listed as Endangered is still pending but if it happens it would make it illegal for hunters to import Lion Trophies into the US (it would be less appealing to hunt an animal that you can’t bring home).

Lion, Lioness, Big Cats, Save Lions, Ban trophy Hunting, Lions are Endangered, Ban Canned HuntingSo what about Canada?

I feel it’s important to be aware of what goes on in your own backyard and while the number of African Lion Trophies coming in to Canada is small, any impact on this species is clearly detrimental. Here are the stats as provided by The Canadian Wildlife Services Branch via Environment  Canada:

  • Since 2007, there have been 29 captive bred sourced African Lion trophies brought into Canada, 27 of which were from South Africa
  • Since 2007, there have been 5 wild sourced African Lion trophies brought into Canada, 4 of which were from South Africa

Hunters no matter what country they are from, are not part of the solution for wildlife conservation so please continue to be a voice for Lions by contacting the US Congress, the US Fish and Wildlife Service via email, phone or Twitter and by joining the Global March For Lions group on Facebook.