Meet the New Big 5 – the world's favorite animals to shoot with a camera

The New Big 5
Thomas Vijayan’s Bengal tiger, Bandhavgarh National Park, India “The tiger is one of my most favourite animals to photograph. I travel all the way from Canada to Indian forests to capture their majestic beauty. Ranthambhore is another national park in India which I often visit, which is filled with majestic tigers. But this picture was taken in Bandhavgarh. Local people and officials in India are trying to protect the tigers in whatever way they can and the tiger population is now increasing in a large scale. This picture was taken on a rainy day. In Indian forests, it’s very difficult to get a proper picture of a running tiger, as they all are thick forests. I kept the camera settings fast enough to freeze the running tiger.” (Image credit: The New Big 5)

The New Big 5 is an international project I started working on in 2019. The ‘big five’ is an old term used by colonial-era hunters in Africa for the most prized and dangerous animals to shoot and kill: elephant, rhino, leopard, Cape buffalo and lion. I thought there was a better idea: to celebrate the animals that we share the planet with using photography, rather than hunting. 

I first had the idea of a new big five of wildlife photography around a decade ago, when I was on assignment in Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Pans. Maybe it was hearing the word ‘shooting’, used for taking pictures, that sparked something, but the genesis was more from thinking about the idea that trophy hunting is an outdated concept, something that belongs to the past, and that wildlife photography is much more meaningful to people these days. 

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Graeme Green is a British travel photographer, journalist and travel writer, whose work has appeared in The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Sunday Telegraph, Wanderlust, National Geographic, South China Morning Post and others. For more, see . Follow him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/graeme.green/