Israeli photographer Dafna Ben Nun is creating a stir with her campaign highlighting the plight of endangered species from all over the world. She talks to Adam Decker about her work.
ISRAELI photographer Dafna Ben Nun has pursued her love for animals to all corners of the world. Her adventurous spirit has seen her brave icy Antarctic temperatures to photograph emperor penguins, visit the wilds of Canada to see polar bears at close quarters, cuddle panda cubs in China, swim with Beluga whales in Russia and encounter pink dolphins in the Amazon in Brazil.
Last month Ben Nun, 33, was in Australia to photograph the country’s native animals including the endangered Tasmanian devil.
There was however another reason for her three-week Australian trip – she was on honeymoon with husband Udi.
“We loved Tasmania and arranged to visit a private property where I could photograph Tasmanian devils in their natural habitat,” she said before returning to Tel Aviv, were she has a video editing and photography business.
With the help of Tasmanian wildlife expert Nick Mooney, she was able to track down and photograph the rare nocturnal animal.
“The Tasmanian devils are very difficult to spot because there are not many left. Many are dying from the terrible devil facial tumour disease, an infectious cancer that is spreading among the population,” she says.
“I like to speak to wildlife experts wherever I visit and feel that I need to use my photographic talents to help the animals.
“I try to photograph as many endangered species as I can, but the further I have to travel the more expensive it is.
“Having been to the North Pole and the South Pole and seen how harsh living conditions there are, I’ve acquired enormous respect for those animals, and I feel it’s important to pass on this message. Even the smallest change of balance in the world can harm those amazing creatures. The best way for me is to move the hearts of people by my photography.”
Ben Nun has been travelling the world since 2008 to follow her passion for wildlife photography.
“I post photos on Facebook and my website to raise awareness about the problems facing many animals,” she says. “People know about my work around the world.”
Ben Nun’s profile received a major boost when she entered the 2011 National Geographic Photo Contest, which attracted 20,000 photo submissions from photographers in more than 130 countries. Her entry of two Beluga whales squirting jets of water in the White Sea in Russia was the viewers’ choice in the nature category of the competition.
After undertaking a special course for diving in the icy waters, she spent almost an hour in the water with the two female whales.
“Whales are very sociable with people. You can pat them and play with them; they were very curious about me. It was an amazing experience being so close to them.”
During her trip to Antarctica, Ben Nun was able to get close to the emperor penguins that she was photographing. However, the trip did have some drama.
“We were stuck for two weeks in the ice,” she recalls.
Another fascinating trip was to Canada to photograph wild polar bears at the Dymond Lake Lodge in Churchill – one of the few places where visitors can get close to the large animals.
“The bears came up to the fence of the lodge where I was photographing – it was an amazing experience facing such a marvellous animal,” she says.
“I welcome the support of sponsors who are as passionate about wildlife as much as I am and willing to help me help nature.”
To find out more about Dafna Ben Nun’s work, visit www.dbn.co.il.