If Dudin had his way, there would be no wilderness in Germany. But beyond dictionary terms, environmental photographer Sven Meurs still finds the last bits of wildness in the local wildlife – even in Germany. According to Dowden, these areas are impassable, undeveloped, unpopulated and unaffected, Meurs reported. And of course, people and climate have changed almost every piece of land. However, the author defines wilderness more generously. Thus he found “a spot or two” throughout Germany, from the Wadden Sea to the edge of the Alps, “where wild animals (still) find a quiet home.”
He reports readily and casually on his animal photo safari experiences with our “wild neighbours.” It takes a lot of eagerness to wait for days in the rain, in a lonely landscape, sometimes in vain for the appearance of wolves, rock goats, marmots, collared or short-eared owls. There are also “spots” that make it easier for the photographer. Because it also goes to the cities where more and more “wild animals” venture out. Or he is surprised when he sees many different types of rare birds in one place in the landfill than ever before. Black kites and crows are one thing, but when he spots around 150 storks in one place, he's speechless. Although he usually reports his research almost like a diary, he also includes some figures and studies. Like the storks in the garbage heap, whose stomachs fill with plastic and whose nests fill with water when used diapers are used to build them and the little animals dive into them. When Maurice is allowed onto the now isolated bird island of Trish – only one birdkeeper lives on the island at times – the first thing he finds on the beach is an oil drum and submerged fishing nets.
Light and shadow
But magnificent images of forests, nature reserves, mountain and water worlds and cultural landscapes such as the Kaiserstuhl or the abandoned mining district of Lausitz dominate this beautiful book. In individual chapters, Sven Meurs repeatedly talks about the diversity of genres that he still finds so often. And yes, he encounters hidden wilderness wonders. But this is just the perception of someone who has been wandering around for days. Many experts also provide reports on the state of nature in his book. One of the experts photographed, Peter Berthold, one of Germany's most famous bird researchers, contradicts the photographer's personal perception. So far we have lost 80 percent of all birds – due to pesticides and strict methods of agriculture, forestry, settlement construction and tourism. But Mears not only displays his beautiful images, he also does not ignore the sad subject of the destruction of animals.
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