South African photographer Ian Johnson has earned Wildlife Photographer of the Year honors from the Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide. The shot is another powerful poster child against the horrors of deforestation.
As Johnson explored the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, the silverback mountain gorilla leapt over the stone wall without warning and just stood there. It and its family are effectively stranded in the park, which is ringed by farmland. Here, at the foot of Mount Sabinyo, Rwanda, fields of potato and pyrethrum have replaced forest.
Wild gorilla numbers in Africa are dwindling. About 400 mountain gorillas remain on the Virunga massif, a volcanic mountain range that straddles the borders of Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. About 480 remain in the nearby Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.
The future of the mountain gorilla is threatened by conflict over habitat, oil and gas exploration, hunting and war. But Johnson has been inspired by rewilding projects in other areas. He believes that if the needs of local people are met, it may become possible to reforest the areas adjacent to the parks to safeguard the gorillas.
Ian Johnson is a Professional Safari Guide, Eco-tourism Consultant, and Professional Photographer. He qualified as a microbiologist and studied conservation in the Cape. He has lived and worked throughout Africa’s Great Rift Valley in some of Africa’s greatest wildlife destinations from South Africa to Northern Kenya to Egypt.
As a photographer, he has received several Southern African and International Awards for his wildlife and natural history photography, he runs a successful photography business & does photo journalism for numerous publications namely Africa Geographic, Msafiri, & Conde’ Naste House and Garden. He is also a freelance cameraman for the BBC Natural History Unit, having worked on a number of documentaries in the Maasai Mara and is a specialist consultant on Leopards for the unit.
Contact the photographer, Ian Johnson, at www.ijwild.com