LOW IMPACT
NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY

Consider the cumulative, as well as singular, impact of actions.

Remember, as a nature photographer, you do not have any greater right to approach or disturb animals than does an ordinary member of the public.

RESPECT THEIR SPATIAL NEEDS

View animals from a safe distance for both you and them. If the animal interrupts its behaviour (resting, feeding, rearing up etc.), then you are too close and must distance yourself.

DONT FORCE AN ACTION

Don't force an action, crowd, pursue, prevent escape, make deliberate noises to distract, startle or harass animals. This is stressful and wastes valuable energy in needless flight. The impact is cumulative.

DONT FEED OR USE BAIT

Habituation due to handouts can result in disease (poor health because inevitably the animal is not eating its native food) or even death of that animal and injury to you.

AVOID USING CALL PLAYBACK 

Call playback,  also known as 'tape-lure' or 'tape playback', is used to attract birds. It is a technique of playing back a sound (recording of an animals own call or a predator call) to which an animal responds.  "Without a doubt, playing a call will alter behavior to some degree,” says Isaac Pretorius. “Some calls that appear to have no positive reaction might be an intimidation call, scaring the animal away.” As an example, he describes the call of a male lion being played among a pride, cautioning, “This could have a disastrous outcome. Cubs might run away out of fear of the ‘intruder,’ making them vulnerable to attacks from enemies like hyenas.

REPORT RARE ANIMALS TO AUTHORITIES, NOT SOCIAL MEDIA

Before advertising the presence of a rare animal, evaluate the potential for disturbance to the animal, its surroundings, and other people in the area, and proceed only if access can be controlled, disturbance minimized, and permission has been obtained from private land-owners. The sites of rare animals should be divulged only to the proper conservation authorities/

KEEP HABITAT DISTURBANCE TO A MINIMUM

Stay on roads, trails, and paths where they exist and NEVER enter areas designated off-limit by the local wildlife/nature conservation authorities.  This is particularly true in southern Australia where our native vegetation is under dire threat from the introduced plant disease Phytophthora cinnamomi, commonly known as dieback. In Western Australia, over 50% of our rare or endangered flora species are susceptible to dieback (which affects 40% of native WA plant species). It has already devastated the once floristically rich Stirling Range National Park (yes, it still looks beautiful, but it actually has lost almost half of its plant species to dieback).
 

It is primarily spread by human activity. The Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife will often close roads during wet weather when the risk of spreading this pathogen is at its highest. For rare birds, such as the Western Ground Parrot, the loss of these plant species is likely to have a devastating effect on the remaining population which is already struggling to overcome the impact of feral predators (cats and foxes) and bushfires.
 

For more information on dieback and its impact in Western Australia, see Department of Parks and WildlifeDieback Working Group).

AVOID USING FLASH DIRECTLY ON ANIMALS AT NIGHT

Use lower intensity spotlights, red filters and direct the light to the side of the subject rather than directly into its eyes.

AVOID FLYING DRONES NEAR OR ABOVE WILDLIFE

Drones have been shown to significantly increase the heart rate of animals. Even flying a drone in a seemingly unpopulated outdoor landscape setting could draw the attention—and the predatory instincts—of a passing bird, resulting in the prospect of injury to the bird. In the words of Ami Vitali, National Geographic photographer, “Flying a drone very high and far away from animals is the only way to get your shot while not interfering with nature.” See: The Ethics of Wildlife Photography.

BE HONEST IN CAPTIONING

If you are photographing a captive or lured bird,  you should say this in your captioning, especially when entering competitions. Avoid  misrepresenting reality. Excessive photo editing, such as 'swapping out backgrounds' or duplicating birds should be declared unless obvious from the nature of the work.