Global Tiger Day 2019

Monday, 29th July is Global Tiger Day and with only around 3,900 tigers remaining in the wild, as reported by the WWF, it's yet another reminder of the fragility of so many species we share this planet with.

Having been in decline for a century or more, the number of wild tigers is now slowly rising, but despite this recent rise, they remain listed as Endangered. Unrelenting pressures from poachers and loss of habitat (due to competition with humans for space and resources) means that any recovery in the numbers of these beautiful creatures will be slow and difficult.

I've had a lifelong interest in the natural world and it's been a privilage to photograph three animal series so far. My second series, Fading From View (2016), is a collection of eight portraits of Big Cats, which considers animal extinction.

The series stems from the sadness I feel, having read so much about the mass extinction event that is currently unfolding. Scientists refer to it as a 'biological annihilation” of wildlife, for which humankind is responsible.

The idea behind the Fading From View series is to encourage the viewer to imagine seeing the very last animal of a species walking away from them into a jungle or across the African plain, in the knowledge that this beautiful animal would gradually fade from their view; its species never to be seen again.

I remembered reading about the Quagga (a type of zebra that lived in South Africa until it became extinct the late19th century) and seeing the rare old footage taken at the time, and I felt that the series could present portraits of the Big Cats as though each portrait was a last record of the animal, and that they would look into our eyes to ask "Why?"

Paul Coghlin