A Few Words About Game Farms
by Jim Robertson
July 26, 2012 by
Exposing the Big Game
At the end of my
a chapter called, "A Few Words on Ethical Wildlife Photography," wherein I
examine some of the problems that arise when over-eager photographers forget
that their animal subjects have needs and interests of their own that don't
always include posing for the camera. With surprising frequency,
irresponsible photo-getters are gored, trampled or charged by free-roaming
animals annoyed enough to feel they must defend themselves.
amount of disturbance could ever equal the level of abuse and exploitation
suffered by an animal stuck in a zoo or game farm. Too often, the "wild"
animals seen in books or magazines are actually imprisoned specimens
sentenced to life in a barren pen or cage. The only time some of these
pitiable creatures see the light of day is when they're paraded out and made
to pose for a client who wants to shoot them in front of a convincingly
picturesque background. Trainers at game farms have graduated from the
traditional whip and chair to more technological tools, such as the electric
cattle prod, to browbeat their wildlife "models" into compliance.
the surface, many game farms seem relatively innocuous, charging only for
public viewing or private photographic sessions with crowd-pleasing kittens,
cubs or fawns bred specifically for that purpose. But as they get older and
less photogenic, these animals are auctioned off as "surplus" to the highest
bidders--a common practice of zoos as well. It's likely the same individuals
appearing as cute babies on calendars or greeting cards will end up, a few
years later, getting shot--for real this time--at another fenced-in compound
that allows "canned hunting." These doubly loathsome compounds profit
directly from the killing of confined, frequently exotic, species behind the
high fences of their enclosures.
As a general rule, photographers and
photo editors don't differentiate between animals in the wild or in
captivity when selling and publishing images. Photos taken at game farms set
a new, unnatural standard for closeness and intimacy that the public expects
to see in every future wildlife photograph. Using these shots only supports
and encourages those who would profit from making their captives serve as
performers for photographers, entertainers for tourists or as sitting ducks
for trophy hunters.
book's copyright page: "No captives were used in the making of this book
[or this blog, for that matter]. All free-roaming animals were respectfully
photographed in the wild."