Photographer Reignites Debate of Morals in Documentary Photography With Footage of Animals Stuck in Mud

Photographer Reignites Debate of Morals in Documentary Photography With Footage of Animals Stuck in Mud

A photographer has reignited the debate of ethics surrounding documentary work and animal welfare, after he posted footage online showing a kangaroo and a lamb trapped in mud. He has now explained why he wasn’t able to save the animals.

The predicament occurred at Lake Cawndilla near Menindee, Australia. Answering to calls from the public as to why the wildlife weren’t saved despite the footage being taken, Nick Moir, a photographer for the Sydney Morning Herald and the individual behind the video, explained it was an impossible situation.

I took the shot with a drone about a kilometre and a half away from the lake bed. People forget if the roo got stuck in the soft mud, it wouldn't have been so great for me either. That's not to say I didn't give it a go.

After reporting the issue to NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Moir revisited the location with a friend who agreed it best not to try and drive on the mud since the vehicle would likely get stuck and sink. Explaining that a rescue attempt would have been dangerous, with a volunteer recently being attacked trying to help out a stuck roo, Moir reiterated the entire point of the photo was to “show just how horrible the situation was and to bring attention to it."

His drone footage was released alongside a warning of the effects of extreme heat and continuing drought on wildlife.

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Oz Photo's picture

We are human beings first and for most , take the photographer who grabbed a child to safety rather than the child being shot by a sniper in Syria.

Terry Waggoner's picture

Are you stating that an animal is on the same footing as a child?

user-156929's picture

One being more important doesn't make the other unimportant.

Terry Waggoner's picture

Yeah but who would you rescue first?

user-156929's picture

Yeah but that isn't the case here, is it?

Terry Waggoner's picture

Sorry but it is.............

user-156929's picture

There was a child stuck in the mud? :-/

Duane Klipping's picture

No it isnt the case it was not a human stuck in mud.

user-156929's picture

I don't understand your point. Are you saying, the fact it wasn't a human means it wasn't worth trying to save?

Duane Klipping's picture

Nope. Roos can slice your belly open spilling your bowels. If they got them selves stuck they would endanger other people who would now have to rescue them also.

user-156929's picture

That makes sense. Some of us become unreasonable when it comes to animals. While I wouldn't put an animal's life above a humans (except maybe mine), if you ever read a story about a photographer trying to beat off a lion from killing a baby animal, it could very well be me. ;-)

Studio 403's picture

Gee, what next, don't use your camera in public.....so I need ethics for my eyes now.....give me a fur coat break. That's my rant tor the day

does he have footage of himself trying to go waist deep to get the animals? did he try or did he look at at it and said; "eh, feck it, we got the footage we needed" to me he just gave an excuse and didnt try. they dont like kangaroos there anyway. theres too many of them.

I would have got some pieces of wood and try to crawl on them. but I wouldnt stand on the side and give excuses.
I also would have ethics and would no way in hell post the footage.

Michael Jin's picture

Sure, the scenery looks like there was a lot of wooden planks lying around... I'm sure the kangaroo would have been very cooperative with the rescue efforts, too.

user-156929's picture

I thought about the "pieces of wood" thing. It might work or you might get wrestled into the mud with the kangaroo, who might think you're attacking, rather than saving, him. But, yeah, I'd have tried.

Kirk Darling's picture

A whole lot of virtue-signalling going on here.

What--did everyone just read the headline, look at the picture, and make a judgment?

"I took the shot with a drone about a kilometre and a half away from the lake bed. People forget if the roo got stuck in the soft mud, it wouldn't have been so great for me either. That's not to say I didn't give it a go."

First, he was shooting by drone more than a klick away, not standing right next to them.

Second, if you have any sense at all, you don't try to "wade" out into a muddy (clearly not exactly "dry") lake bed. You'd wind up just as trapped.

Third, yes, it is someone else's job, possibly by law and certainly by capability.

Fourth, all the comparisons to rescuing humans in the same situation are absurd. And even for humans in the same situation, the proper response would be to relay the information to the responsible professionals who will have the physical ability to respond appropriately.

Jeff Walsh's picture

this ^ so much this. There's no way anyone read the article and concludes the photog was in the wrong.

Han Seoul-Oh's picture

people assume he didnt help, gets flamed. BBC helps penguins despite a mission to maintain nature's integrity for filming, gets flamed. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/bbc-nature-film-crew-breaks-no-interference...

can't win when your viewers are stupid and you can't control your viewership.

bottom line: you will always have detractors and thus cannot please everyone. "the only winning move is not to play." just know the people who agree with you are usually mostly silent.

Miles Bergstrom's picture

This photographer did all of the correct things.

He observed the Roo in distress from a distance. He returned with intent to help and it was deemed too dangerous. On top of that another person had been attacked be a distressed Roo recently. He also contacted NSW to report the incident.

Everyone so far has made fantastic points.

Journalism is not for the faint of heart. A perfect example, go look at the raw footage from the Rhode Island Station Fire. The cameraman in question records the disaster for roughly 9 minutes, only placing his camera down once to ask if anyone needed help.

It's the same reason the filmmakers of planet earth don't interfere with shooting their subjects, they would off set the balance.

It's the same reason in Star Trek they try not to intervene with developing worlds =)