The Beauty and Danger of the Wild

Big cats can be very scary, especially when you live in Waterloo Region, where we deal with foxes, a few coyotes, and maybe a few wolves. Travel to the Rockies, for example, and you suddenly find yourself wondering if you really do want to go hiking – might you become supper for a cougar?

During a childhood growing up in rural Indiana, National Geographic photojournalist Steve Winter dreamed of traveling the world as a photographer for National Geographic Magazine. His first camera was a gift from his father on his seventh birthday. Although Winter hunts big cats with his camera, his passion for photography didn’t actually start out with animals. In an interview with the Phoenix New Times, Winter explained that he first began shooting people (with his camera, of course). It took a turtle to show Winter that animals were just as exciting.

On an assignment to Costa Rica, following a group of conservation scientists, he had the chance to visit a beach covered in turtles laying eggs.

“I was very worried,” he told the Times. “‘How am I going to get a picture of a turtle?’ But it’s just the same way you get a picture of a person.”

A National Geographic photojournalist since 1991, Winter has been recognized for his outstanding work with wildlife numerous times. He’s been named BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year and BBC Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year. He was a two-time winner of Picture of the Year International’s Global Vision Award and won 1st prize in the nature story category from World Press Photo in 2008 and 2014. He lectures globally on photography and conservation issues and has been interviewed on CBS Nightly News, 60 Minutes, NPR, BBC, and CNN.

Moreover, just this year, he was a finalist in the 2017 Wildlife Photojournalist Award competition, run by the prestigious Natural History Museum in Britain. His entry, a photo titled “Saved but Caged,” shows a six-month-old Sumatran tiger in a cage, growling at the camera.

As cute as it may at first look, the story behind the photo, as reported in The Telegraph, is heart-breaking: the cub had been caught in a snare and trapped for four days before it had been discovered. Its hind leg needed to be amputated, and the cub would spend the rest of its life in protection instead of roaming freely in the wild.

Steve feels we have a great responsibility not only to show and excite the readers about the natural world but about its fascinating people and cultures as well. It all boils down to this: He wants to give people a reason to care.

The talk takes place on Thursday, January 18 and starts at 7.30PM. After Steve finishes his presentation, you’ll get a chance to ask him a question or meet him after the show for a quick autograph and selfie.

The National Geographic Live series brings to life the unknown world around us. Order your tickets now to hear Steve Winter share his adventures from around the globe as he tries to document and save the big cats.