|Leopard - by kind permission of Burrard-Lucas.com|
It is unfortunately true that most wildlife has good reasons to be afraid of people. Over the centuries most animals and birds have been hunted for food or sport, or generally ill-treated or abused by human beings. The long-term consequence of this is that in populated regions almost all species keep a safe distance between themselves and us. The only exceptions are areas such as Antarctica and the Galapagos Islands where human beings have had less impact.
For people, it is a novel experience to approach wild creatures closely. There is no doubt that time spent in the close proximity of animals and birds, even those that we are accustomed to seeing every day, can be thrilling. We see detail of which we were previously unaware, and with the passage of time can observe behaviour that may prove not only exciting but also educational.
Of course, there are some species, particularly among the larger creatures, from which we must protect ourselves. Photographers who pursue big cats, rhino, buffalo, elephants and countless other animals must do so with knowledge of the target species and degree of humility. For some of these large animals, human beings are nothing more than a walking meal.