Birds are on the brink of death. Can photography end their plight?

 
 
 

The birds don’t know they’re being watched. Isak Pretorius is a master of his craft. In a split second, he snaps an image of the flock in mid-flight. Yet he’s the one who’s really captured – by their grace. “Birds are strikingly beautiful creatures that are often overlooked because we think of them as abundant or common,” Pretorius says. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Around the world, bird populations are on the decline as a result of habitat loss, pollution, and climate change. The feathered creatures are in trouble, and we’re not seeing it.

With 10 years of wildlife photography under his belt, Pretorius is using his experience and passion to draw our eyes to their cause. Simple in composition, his images allow the intricate details of the subject to shine. Though birds are fast, Pretorius’ patience triumphs. The outcome is a photo that bears the semblance of fine art. “In showing people the beauty of wildlife, they will care more about it,” Pretorius says. “That’s our best chance of protecting it.”

In 2013, his image of a noddy bird trapped in a spider web garnered global attention. Pretorius became the first South African to win in the bird behaviour category at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards. One glimpse of the exquisite way he captures these winged wonders and it’s easy to see why. Through his art or up close on his photo safaris, Pretorius offers people the opportunity to recognise the marvels of nature. And in doing so, he’s giving these birds a chance to survive.