When joining an African safari, most people hope to catch a glimpse of the Big Five. But have you ever wondered why these animals were picked to be part of it? It isn't because of their size, their beauty, or their popularity. Instead, the term was coined by colonial hunters who found these animals the most difficult to kill. They were trophies.
But not anymore. In 2021, Graeme Greene set out to reclaim this morbid term, and decided it was time to collate a new Big Five. But instead of animals to barbarically shoot at, he wanted to know people's favourite animals to capture on camera. After more than 50,000 votes it was decided. The New Big 5 of Wildlife Photography are: Elephants, polar bears, lions, gorillas, and tigers.
Now, Graeme has released a book to raise awareness of the New Big 5 and other endangered wildlife. Featuring more than 200 striking photographs, and compelling essays by leading conservationists including Dr Jane Goodall, the book is a call to action to help save our delicate natural world.
“The New Big 5 project did a great job at highlighting endangered species and threats facing animals around the world," said Graeme. "It was always my hope to produce a book - the next step in that mission.
"Looking at the photos in this book is a powerful reminder of the incredible beauty and diversity of the natural world, and what we stand to lose if we don't take urgent action to protect wildlife and the planet."
He continued: "From termites to tigers, all creatures are essential to the balance of nature, healthy ecosystems, and the future of life on Earth. The essays, interviews and ideas for solutions included in the book point the way to a wilder, fairer world, a path available to us if we choose to take it.”
Below, we take a sneak peek inside the book to see some of the remarkable photography included, captured by the world's most talented wildlife photographers.
Polar bear, Wapusk National Park, Manitoba, Canada
IUCN status: Vulnerable
“I saw this polar bear family pause on its trek to the sea ice to hunt seals on a frozen day in the Arctic. At this moment, these adorable twin cubs turned their first adventure into playtime by using their patient mum as a playground. They were only around three months old and had just emerged from their maternity den several days earlier. Since the polar bear cubs are young and helpless in the harsh Arctic, they rely on their mother for everything they need to survive. They are inseparable all the time until the cubs are about two and a half years old. The weather was – 40 degrees C, accompanied by intense Arctic wind. But it was a privilege to get this image in a restricted Arctic denning area at Wapusk National Park, Canada, which I’d gained permission to enter.”