A few days ago, I received a brief note from my daughter-in-law, Fran Yeoman to ask whether it was common knowledge in the nature photography world, that Nikon was linked directly with trophy hunting. It certainly was not to me and I said so – Fran just happens to be a news editor at the Independent and they were researching and subsequently ran this story http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/the-wrong-kind-of-photo-shoot-nikon-in-the-line-of-fire-over-rifle-sights-for-big-game-hunting-8556123.html?origin=internalSearch
There is a quote from Stefano Untherthiner, whom I met at WildPhotos 2008. We maintain contact and I can vouch for the fact he is a man driven by a passionate love for his subjects.
“I’ve used Nikon since I was a young boy, fascinated by nature and wildlife. I always saw Nikon as a company close to nature, but I was wrong,” he said.
“I don’t understand and can’t agree with their support for trophy hunting, which sends out entirely the wrong message to global photographers who love nature. Wildlife needs protecting now more than ever, and I urge the company to end its support for trophy hunting.”
I am disappointed in Nikon, but not surprised, for this is a world when all is deemed legitimate in the corporate world in the pursuit of profit – and several on-line comments said as much. It is just one hopes for better from a company that has spent time and money allying itself with some of the very best in the business – in fact, until recently the majority of winning entries in the Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the World Competition were taken on Nikon equipment. Canon have made inroads and have a reputation, not just for great, state of the art equipment, but also for listening to and promoting the photographers who use their cameras and lenses. Nikon has long seemed to exude a corporate arrogance ‘ we are Nikon we do not need to listen.
Well, gentlemen, you do for you cannot claim, on the one hand, to be the wildlife photographer’s best friend and, on the other, to involve yourself with blasting the life force from those creatures by providing the best gun sights available and boasting about that. There is a clear dichotomy that, I hope, somebody at Nikon has the wit to see, although Nikon UK have stayed mum since the revelation hit the press.
Nikon’s advertising might lead you to believe that it is the camera that takes the image and plenty of devotees back up that fallacy by providing free, fawning testament to the greatness of the God Nikon (usually, by rubbishing other makes of camera and lenses they have never used).
In the digital world, before the D800 and D800E arrived, Nikon were behind the game (no pun intended) and Canon surged into the lead, True, Nikon make some superb lenses but so do others and, as a highly demanding user of ‘glass’ I know that the Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF ED macro is excellent but the Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro outshines it in the resolution and contrast stakes. So, Nikon is not irreplaceable and I would suggest that many should question how they can invest their hard earned money in Nikon equipment when that company shows such callous indifference to the plight of wildlife and game in particular. I, for one, will not stay amongst the Nikon-faithful: I was wavering, but no more.
Trophy Hunting is big business, as Hannah Kent Martin notes in the Independent …”Wealthy western hunters typically pay tens of thousands of pounds to shoot big game. South Africa earns around $100m a year by sanctioning the hunting (which it classes as “eco tourism”), leading to the deaths of approximately 54,000 animals. Hunters typically target the biggest and strongest animals, who provide the more attractive trophies (stuffed animals and fur rugs etc).”
So, time to make voices heard and all those who trumpet Nikon’s greatness might stop and think – and what about those flagship enterprises upon whose products the Nikon logo appears? It would be a jolt to Nikon to see those black and yellow signatures stripped off, or at least I would hope so.
South Africa labels its trophy hunting as ‘eco tourism’ where overfed individuals mostly male (but not entirely) stand astride a ‘kill’, sacrificed to make these emotional inadequates revel in their superiority. Just get a whiff of testosterone-filled dominance over nature – that need to carry your testicles around in a wheelbarrow, guys. Not too sure what it does for the ladies involved – maybe they just trundle that ol’ barrow, as they say.
Yes, such members of the human race are pathetic and deserve to be vilified but there are many of these callous individuals prepared to fork out thousands of dollars. Hypocritical exploitation is all around- in Japan the slaughter of whales continues annually under that flag of convenience ‘scientific research’. Just a thought – maybe Nikon make the sights for harpoon guns? Certainly they would not perceive any ethical dilemma in doing so on current evidence.
China is that most rapacious of all nations when it comes to destruction of wildlife to feed the lucrative superstitions of oriental medicine – where ground rhino horn and tiger bones are claimed to add rigidity to the flaccid members of those who use them. And because our governments wish to make lots of Yen we are told we must ‘respect’ their cultural heritage (a contradiction in terms) even when it leads to the obscenity of widespread destruction of the world’s wildlife for short-term gain. And so it goes on…
Well Nikon, I have been contemplating the purchase of a D800E but my hard-earned euros will be directed elsewhere. Like Stefano Untherthiner (and I hope thousands of others) I feel utterly let down. yes it is naive but then, like most people involved in the natural world I dream, however foolishly, of better times when the reality is that it has all gone too far down the road to hell.
Cameras are important but the hand and the eye behind them is what produces the image, Nikon, and I think you have some rapid decisions to make. Claimed support of wildlife and the backing of trophy hunting are mutually exclusive so what is it to be, Nikon, wildlife: dead or alive?