An­i­mal wel­fare is a snap

A love of an­i­mals and a pas­sion for pho­tog­ra­phy cre­ated a new ca­reer for a po­lice­woman, writes Chanel Par­ratt

Sunday Mail - Travel/Escape - - CELEBRITY ESCAPE -

WILDLIFE pho­tog­ra­pher and an­i­mal rights ad­vo­cate Alex Cearns (pic­tured) left the West Aus­tralian Po­lice in 2006 af­ter 14 years of ser­vice.

She knew she was ready for a com­plete life change but wasn’t sure what she wanted to do.

A trip to Tas­ma­nia with a friend with an SLR cam­era was the start of her fas­ci­na­tion with pho­tog­ra­phy.

Seven years later, Cearns is one of the most re­spected pho­tog­ra­phers in her field, help­ing an­i­mal char­i­ties raise aware­ness for an­i­mal wel­fare across the world. How has your work as a pho­tog­ra­pher led you to be in­volved with an­i­mal pro­tec­tion? AC: The abil­ity to make a dif­fer­ence through my work with an­i­mal res­cue groups is one of the main rea­sons I work so hard in my commercial busi­ness. I was 19 when I joined the po­lice and over the next 14 years I was ex­posed to the dark­est side of hu­man­ity. But polic­ing pre­pared me for the sights I see work­ing with an­i­mal char­i­ties – the abuses and atroc­i­ties left to the res­cue groups. I left the WA Po­lice not want­ing to know what people did to each other any­more, but my sense of jus­tice shifted into con­cern for vul­ner­a­ble crea­tures and drives me to cre­ate change through my pho­tog­ra­phy. Tell me about your shoot at the Bonorong Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary in Tas­ma­nia AC: I trav­elled to Bonorong to pho­to­graph the en­dan­gered Tas­ma­nian Devils and other rare Aus­tralian wildlife to raise funds to build Tas­ma­nia’s first 24-hour wildlife hospi­tal at the sanc­tu­ary. About 500, 000 an­i­mals are killed on Tas­ma­nia’s roads each year so the amaz­ing people at Bonorong have de­vel­oped the state’s only 24hour vol­un­teer wildlife res­cue net­work, made up of about 1000 vol­un­teers who re­ceive free train­ing from Bonorong. What are your top three des­ti­na­tions for pho­tograph­ing an­i­mals in the wild? AC: The Serengeti Na­tional Park in Tan­za­nia pro­vides a unique pho­to­graphic sa­fari des­ti­na­tion. Each year one of na­ture’s great­est spec­ta­cles takes place here – the an­nual mi­gra­tion of over 1.5 mil­lion wilde­beest, pro­vid­ing stun­ning wildlife im­agery.

The Gala­pa­gos is an amaz­ing year-round des­ti­na­tion for lovers of land and sea wildlife. Fer­nan­d­ina Is­land in par­tic­u­lar is a re­mark­able place to view flight­less cor­morants, sea lions and ma­rine igua­nas.

The Antarc­tic is also a pho­tog­ra­pher’s dream as it of­fers a wide va­ri­ety of wildlife against a back­drop of ice­bergs.

I’m very for­tu­nate to be part­ner­ing with World Ex­pe­di­tions as their first fe­male wildlife pho­tog­ra­pher and will be leading pho­to­graphic ex­pe­di­tions to all of these places in 2014 and 2015. Favourite place to travel in Aus­tralia? AC: Christ­mas Is­land is one of the most in­ter­est­ing places in Aus­tralia. Na­tional park cov­ers more than 63 per cent of the is­land. There’s abun­dant flora and fauna in­clud­ing many en­demic species. It’s of­ten re­ferred to as the Gala­pa­gos of the In­dian Ocean. The an­nual mi­gra­tion of mil­lions of Christ­mas Is­land red crabs is a sight to be­hold. Sir David At­ten­bor­ough de­scribed it as one of the planet’s most spec­tac­u­lar wildlife events. Alex Cearns’ Pro Pho­tog­ra­phy An­i­mal Ad­ven­ture Tour to Tan­za­nia is in June. See world­ex­pe­di­tions.com/au or hound­stooth­stu­dio.com.au

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