Ahead of World Earth Day on April 22nd, we are highlighting the top 10 conservation content creators you should be following on Instagram. These award-winning filmmakers, wildlife photographers and documentarians, both South African and from all over the globe, are doing the most to ensure that the beautiful creatures inhabiting our wildest places are alive and thriving for future generations to enjoy.
Gunjan Menon is a multiple award-winning independent wildlife filmmaker and writer from India. One of National Geographic’s official Explorers, her documentary work has been screened on Animal Planet, the Discovery Channel, Disney+ and BBC Earth. Her work often focuses on the relationships between indigenous people groups and key species living in the natural habitats they both call home. When she isn’t out on a filmmaking expedition, Gunjan volunteers as a bat rescuer and rehabilitator.
Cape Town-based international film director and conservationist David Clancy is passionate about creating impactful short-form documentaries with a focus on protecting both humanity and nature alike. The course of his career so far has taken him on adventures in some of the most one-of-a-kind destinations on the globe. Most of his recent travels have been through African countries, working on a series for the Random Good Foundation on environmental awareness.
Matt Blair is so much more than just a videographer. He combines his background in community development and livelihood restoration with his skills as a visual creator to powerfully express his passion for conservation and the African continent. Matt tells his stories through the medium of film, with BBC Dynasties II and the BBC’s Earth’s Great Rivers production being two of the most notable projects under his belt. When he isn’t behind a camera, Matt works as a Strategic Livelihood Advisor with the communities that live on the outskirts of protected areas.
Hailing from the United Kingdom but now residing on the Island of Borneo in Malaysia, Roger Munns is a British Emmy and BAFTA award-winning underwater cinematographer, specialising in natural history documentary filmmaking. He was the main cameraman on the BBC’s legendary Blue Planet II series and DoP on Apple’s Under the Sea Screensavers, as well as operating as a sequence cameraman on David Attenborough’s Seven Worlds, One Planet. With his experience kicking off in 2001, Roger logged an impressive more than 600 hours underwater on Blue Planet II alone. He is passionate about crafting complex, character-driven stories, especially those involving megafauna (like manta rays, blue whales and whale sharks).
South African wildlife documentary filmmaker and one of our local conservation content creators Jeandré Gerding is guided by Baba Dioum’s famous quote: “In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will only love what we understand and we will understand only what we have been taught.” He became a filmmaker to spark change. Combining his love for nature and passion for beautiful visuals, he found himself naturally drawn to wildlife filmmaking, operating mainly in the roles of cameraman and producer. As so many people will never have the opportunity to experience the wilderness firsthand, Jeandré firmly believes that visual storytelling is the most effective way to teach and instil a love of nature and foster its stewardship is through the medium of visual storytelling. His work has been broadcast on National Geographic, Nat Geo Wild, Disney+ and the BBC.
Growing up in Cape Town, photographer and free diver Callum Evans became magnetically drawn to the ocean from a young age. He quickly found himself with a camera in hand, driven to document the mysterious seascapes and fascinating creatures along the Cape’s coasts. Following the completion of his degree in Environmental and Geographical Sciences, Callum married his photographic passion and his love of wildlife into creating work that focuses on conservation, especially the protection of our oceans.
Wildlife photography is one of the most challenging genres of image-making out there. It demands patience and precision from the photographer and flawless, blistering performance from their gear. To aid you on your quest to nail your next magnificent shot, we asked Callum and fine art wildlife photographer Peter Delaney to share their wildlife photography tips that you can take with you on your summer adventures into the bush, including insights for shooting more effectively and taking a peek inside their gear bags.
Alexandra Panagiotou is originally from Athens, Greece, but today she can be found working with fierce dedication at the beloved Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town as a valuable member of their sea turtle rehabilitation team. She holds an MSc in Conservation Science and Policy, as well as a BSc in Natural Resources Conservation, having specialised in Wildlife Conservation and Ecology. Since obtaining her qualifications, she worked for several organisations all over the globe as a wildlife rehabilitator and environmental educator. While she is passionate about all living things, most of Alex’s recent work and research has involved sea turtles. She is dedicated to helping these creatures that come in seven varieties, three of which are critically endangered, two more are endangered, one is threatened, and yet another holding an unknown conservation status.
Repped by National Geographic, Shannon Wild is an Australian-born, award-winning wildlife photographer and cinematographer, as well as a passionate nature conservationist. She has been creating powerful documentaries since 2004, working with institutions such as the United Nations and various wildlife non-profits such as Wild Tomorrow Fund, The Perfect World Foundation and Wildaid. She is also committed to empowering her followers on Instagram, regularly sharing photography tips and camera settings in her posts.
While the summer months might be what typically comes to mind when discussing this form of photographic expression, there are numerous advantages and opportunities for creativity to shine when shooting wildlife in winter. Shannon was one of the renowned wildlife documentarians we interviewed for this blog post last year that highlights the incredible potential of photographing wildlife in winter.
Capetonian Marine Biologist and one of our local conservation content creators Danel Wentzel first started scuba diving when she was only eleven years old. She fell in love with the sealife off Cape Town’s shores when she came to the Mother City to study as a first-year marine biology and oceanography student. She has volunteered for the Save Our Sea Sharks education centre, as well as worked for the I Am Water Foundation and been a part of Sea The Bigger Picture’s various beach cleanup initiatives. In addition to running her own scuba school, Danel is also a wildlife TV presenter for WildEarth. She documents her underwater adventures on her Instagram.
Storyteller Rudolph Michel de Girardier uses the mediums of filmmaking and photography to document powerful tales aimed at creating a rippling social impact that incites change. He spends as much time as he can travelling the world, capturing wildlife and connecting with the people who inhabit those natural environments. He is passionate about climate change, and the protection of our precious natural resources.
What do you think of our selection of conservation content creators? Did we miss any notable ones that you would like to highlight? Leave your favourites in the comments below.