Wildlife focus for Settle photographers

Carol and Tony Dilger

Carol and Tony Dilger

First published in What's On

WILDLIFE photographers Tony and Carol Dilger will be downsizing for their next exhibition.

The husband-and wife team, who are based in Settle, are showing their work at the town’s Gallery on the Green, housed in a former telephone box.

The exhibition, After Out of Africa and into the Dales, will feature wildlife pictures shot during photo safaris in South Africa.

Tony said: “It is stunning wildlife photography from the heart of evolution’s furnace transposed to the chilly confines of Britain’s smallest art gallery, a dose of tropical exotica for Dalesfolk and ‘off-comers’ alike.”

The couple are both passionate about photography, fired by a fascination with the natural world and a love of climbing, caving and mountaineering.

They say photography is another way of exploring.

They launched their photographic careers about ten years ago after selling their family home at Clapham, moving to an apartment in Settle and buying a luxury motor home.

“We live, sleep and breathe wildlife photography,” said Tony when interviewed by the Craven Herald five years ago. “We are living the dream.”

And that dream has taken them from the Dales to the wilds of Scotland and the game reserves of South Africa in their quest to find nature at “its most elusive, exquisite or simply spectacular”.

They have just formalised a collaboration with bush guides Alisha Ellis and Zane Engelbrecht to run safaris in Africa under the name of Fully-Focussed Safaris.

They are due to lead two safaris in the Kruger Park next month and will visit the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park to prepare for a safari there next year. They are also planning to widen their scope to Namibia and Botswana.

Tony and Carol have become increasingly involved with the rhino anti-poaching campaign.

They have met key figures from the Southern Africa Wildlife College, who train and organise the anti-poaching teams, and have pledged to raise awareness and funding for the training of new field rangers.

Tony said: “It is an all-out shooting war against highly organised poaching syndicates. It is an illegal trade that is second only to the Columbian drug trade in scale.

“These young men and women have the task of patrolling the Mozambique border, where the poachers enter the Kruger Park. They are dropped off at intervals and proceed alone on an appointed route, on foot, at night, where night predators roam and the only human contact is certain to be poachers armed with automatic rifles.

“Despite all these efforts, rhinos are still being poached in the Kruger Park at the rate of two a day, a frequency that guarantees extinction in around 20 years. There is such a lot at stake.”

Back home, they run bird of prey workshops near Haworth in conjunction with Chris Johnson of SMJ Falconry.

The couple’s unconventional life was captured on camera by Abigail Brown, of Ingleton, and her film, A Wild Life on the Road, was broadcast on the Community Channel in July. It can also be viewed at tonydilger.co.uk.

After Out of Africa and into the Dales opens on Saturday and runs until October 11.

For more information, visit galleryonthegreen.org.uk or tonydilger.co.uk

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