Last night, my dad and I attended a very enjoyable lecture by wildlife filmmaker Simon King, organised by the Lancashire Badger Group. While Simon spends most of his time behind the camera these days, he was a familiar face in the wildlife documentaries I watched in earlier years, such as Big Cat Diary, Britain Goes Wild and Springwatch.
The focus of the lecture was generally observation of British wildlife. Simon was a brilliant speaker, and was particularly good at making the audience laugh. Much of this came from his animal mimicry, as he demonstrated how the calls of tawny owls, little owls and cuckoos can be used to attract them, as well as using vole squeaks to lure in a barn owl. There was naturally some talk of watching badgers, and he also played some videos of filming fallow deer and otters.
The Q&A was particularly scintillating, as Simon recalled some of the hairier moments in his career – including being attacked by a rabid cheetah – and mused on whether or not we have a spiritual connection with wildlife. (He felt that if we did, surely all animals would be connected with each other too, because what’s so special about humans?) Finally, somebody asked him if he had any tips about getting into the wildlife filmmaking industry. As part of his answer, Simon noted honestly that you have to think carefully about your motivation for doing so, as it’s extremely questionable whether wildlife documentaries have really done much to help conservation efforts in the long run. He ended with a reading of the poem Sometimes a Wild God.
Thanks to Simon King and Lancashire Badger Group for a great evening!