Highlighting Wildlife in Crisis, ‘The New Big 5’ Celebrates the Diversity of the World’s Animal Denizens

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Qiang Zhang, Golden Snub-nosed Monkey. Foping National Nature Reserve, China. Status: Endangered. All images © the photographers, from ‘The New Big 5’ by Graeme Green, published by Earth Aware Editions, shared with permission

In the Victorian era, big game hunting saw a meteoric rise in popularity, coinciding with Britain’s colonization of numerous regions in the so-called “Scramble for Africa” and the advent of more accurate firearms that galvanized a fashion for amassing “exotic” trophies. Sometimes intended for museums, specimens were often bound for private collections, and creatures that roamed the vast African continent were considered particularly attractive prizes.

Known as the Big Five, the lion, leopard, black rhinoceros, African bush elephant, and African buffalo were considered the most difficult species to hunt on foot. Today, many of these animals are vulnerable and endangered and must be protected in nature reserves in order to prevent being unlawfully hunted to extinction. In his forthcoming book The New Big 5, photographer Graeme Green wants to flip the narrative: “Shooting with a camera, not a gun.”

The New Big 5 is the culmination of a three-year project celebrating the remarkable multiplicity of Earth’s inhabitants, which also aims to raise awareness of the fragility of their existence as their habitats are increasingly threatened due to the climate crisis. In April 2020, Green asked people around the world to suggest what animals they most enjoyed seeing in photographs. More than 3,000 people voted for their favorites, and the list includes species found in Asia and North America, too: elephants, tigers, gorillas, polar bears, and lions. Family life is a particular focus, emphasizing the universally tender relationships of parents rearing their babies.

With more than a million species at risk of extinction worldwide, Green wanted the project “to focus attention on all of the world’s incredible wildlife, large and small, and the urgent need to act together globally to save these animals, our planet, and ourselves.” The book brings together more than 200 photographs by 146 photographers from around the world and contains numerous interviews and essays by some of the foremost conservationists, scientists, and activists working today.

Scheduled for release on April 4, you can pre-order a copy on Bookshop, and visit the project’s website to learn more.


Vicki Jauron, African Lions. Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. Status: Vulnerable

Dhritiman Mukherjee, Gharial. National Chambal Sanctuary, India. Status: Critically Endangered

Hao Jiang, Polar Bear. Wapusk National Park, Manitoba, Canada. Status: Vulnerable

Aimee Jan, Green Sea Turtle. Ningaloo Marine Park, Australia. Status: Endangered

Left: Majed Alzaabi, Mountain Gorilla. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda. Status: Endangered. Right: Nili Mahendra Gudhka, Cheetah. Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. Status: Vulnerable

Jenny Wong, Polar Bear. Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada. Status: Vulnerable

Karine Aigner, African Elephant. Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania. Status: Endangered

Lucas Bustamante, Spotted Torrent Frog. Santa Barbara Park, Ecuador. Status: Critically Endangered

Antonio Liebana, Iberian Lynx. Ciudad Real, Spain. Status: Endangered

David Lloyd, Black Rhinoceros. Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. Status: Critically Endangered

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