The Current

ENCORE: 'We have an obligation to care for nature,' says wildlife filmmaker

Wildlife filmmaker John Aitchison has made his living watching predators stalk their prey. He joins The Current to talk about the beauty, brutality and inevitability of nature and shares what he's learned watching for the perfect shot.

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Filmmaker John Aitchison has travelled to some of the most remote parts of the planet to document the world's wildlife. His new book, The Shark and the Albatross, tells the stories of some of those encounters.

From a pack of hungry wolves in pursuit of an elk in Yellowstone National Park, to navigational emperor penguins in Antarctica, Aitchison has endless fascinating anecdotes about our planet's animals.

Aitchison spoke to The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti in May about these experiences, including an inspiring encounter with an albatross, the bird with the largest wingspan, who refused failure after endless painful crashes upon first flight.

I draw lessons from the natural events I see and apply them more widely ... I think nature is a great instructor and metaphor for us.- Wildlife photographer, John Aitchison

Aitchison took pleasure in the fact this story was likely seen by one hundred million people, considering it was shot for BBC's Frozen Planet.

(John Aitchison/The Shark and the Albatross)
When filming, Aitchison takes significant measures not to spoil the ecosystems he visits. Since many animals are scared by humans, he normally hides from them. "Very often I'll be crouched in a small canvas blind, maybe a metre on each side and a metre and a half high — maybe for 18 hours."

Aitchison's patience has paid off, having witnessed some of the world's most inaccessible natural phenomena. In just one example, Aitchison captured more than a million snow geese take flight, an experience he compared to hearing jet engines take off.

It was almost like having your brain jammed — it was so overwhelming an experience. It was amongst the most amazing things I've ever seen.- Wildlife photographer, John Aitchison

Aitchison says this particular experience was exceptionally moving because it was a rare display of natural abundance, characteristic of the world in the past.

With over 20 years of experience, Aitchison hopes his films will persuade people to care about conserving the natural world. "Of course, I'm on nature's side and I wish more of us were."

Listen the full conversation at the top of our web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Liz Hoath.