In 2010 I toured the northern provinces of Argentina. The trip was made with the support of the mate (mah-tay) company TARAGUI. Mate is for the Argentines what wine is for the French. It is at the core of their social structure. Over the course of 6 weeks, we interviewed all kinds of people and took hundreds of photos. While the focus of the assignment was on the Argentine culture and its people, I never miss a chance of going back to my passion – wildlife. So when I was offered a private visit at the Guira Oga Refuge Center in Iguazu, in the Province of Misiones, I jumped at the opportunity and asked if I could spend some time alone with the residents.
The Refuge is home to wild animals from the jungle who, unfortunately, got caught too close or mixed-in with the complicated lives of nearby city dwellers. Most of the time, the center is called after an animal has been shot but found still alive. Among the residents onsite are monkeys, ocelots, anteaters, birds of all sorts, foxes and others.
According to their site, since they opened their doors in 1996, Guira Oga has rescued 2563 animals – due to physical abuse, car accidents, poaching, wildlife seizures or given voluntarily. 681 of these animals were returned to their natural habitat and 334 are now permanent residents.
Passing by the birds of prey, I was immediately taken aback by a black-and-white hawk-eagle (Spizaetus melanoleucus). Covering some 20–24 inches (50–60 cm) in overall length and about 30 oz (850 g) in average weight, it is found throughout tropical America from Southern Mexico to Northern Argentina. This species is often placed in the monotypic genus Spizastur, but has recently been moved to Spizaetus e.g. by the American Ornithologists’ Union, as it appears that the ornate hawk-eagle (S. ornatus) is its sister taxon. You can read more about this issue on Wikipedia.
As with most of my photography, my philosophy is always the same – I don’t want to “TAKE” the shot, I want to “RECEIVE” it. I do my best not to provoke or push the animal into a defensive or an aggressive state. So after getting permission from the center I slowly entered the bird’s temporary habitat and sat on the ground. I must have been in there for about an hour, as time just flew by. It was obvious that the bird didn’t want to be there and I think it is what I captured – the locked in wilderness. The ones who are not meant to be prisoners but free to roam the sky or the jungle. The depth of its stare, reaching into my soul – one word come to my mind – anger. Realizing I had been given an incredible photo, I thanked the bird and made my way out hoping that one day, sooner than later, his wish would come true and that he would find his way back into the sky, soaring into the sun. – Daniel Fox
Equipment and settings: Canon EOS 7D, Canon EF 35-350mm f/3.5-5.6L USM zoom lens @ 210mm, SanDisk Extreme Pro 32GB CompactFlash card – 1/250th @ f/5.6 – ISO 400
This image is available as a print by emailing Fox here. Currently, the photographer is kayaking on a 1,000 mile trip from Victoria, BC to San Francisco. The goal is to raise necessary funds for sending under-privileged teens to a 30-day Sea Kayaking camp in Alaska during the summer of 2015. Presented by internationally known and extremely well-reputed National Outdoors Leadership School (N.O.L.S.), the event is part of Fox’s W.I.L.D. Image Project, which aims at giving youth the opportunity to experience wilderness first-hand. To support, please visit the IndieGoGo campaign for the project here. “I am asking for your support to help make this goal achievable so together we can have a positive impact on the lives of a younger generation,” explains Fox.
To see more of Fox’s work, visit his website at www.wildimageproject.com and read more about his photography and his conservation efforts at his blog. Follow him on Behance, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+. Find his motion work on Vimeo and YouTube.