Story and photos by Babette Weatherell
What makes a talented wild photographer? For Iain Stych it started as a zookeeper. Iain’s zookeeping career of 20+ years saw him working with snakes, birds, mammals and monotremes across Scotland, New Zealand and Australia. His extensive conservation work and passion for wildlife eventually landed Iain at the Healesville Sanctuary as the Wildlife Supervisor of Threatened Species, actively involved and responsible for the captive management of Platypus and Recovery Programs for Orange–bellied Parrot, Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby, Spotted Tree Frog and Mountain Pygmy Possum amongst other species.
What was the most elusive species to photograph?
For the last few years I had been searching for the Southern Pink Underwing Moth. I had a brief sighting last year, after dark, down at the bottom of Minyon Falls – but I’m still to photograph one. We find the caterpillars every year when searching for their food plant, the Carronia Vine.
A moment that comes to mind in regards to my conservation work is the difficulties/unexpected moments that develop in the captive management of species. While working at Monarto Zoo in SA, we were doing a vet check of yellow-footed Rock wallabies in a large free range enclosure of a hectare or so. The wallabies had to be caught quickly and safely, so for this we used a tried and proven method of rigging a couple of 80 metre hessian fences. We herded the wallabies out of hiding and into the catch areas. All had gone smoothly but we were missing a large male which we knew was in the enclosure. A few sweeps later and we still hadn’t found it, so we tried again…. Just as one of us looked up while passing under a Mallee Pine tree, there it was above our heads, the Yellow-footed Rock wallaby up the Pine! We’d been walking under it all morning.
What do you love most about wildlife photography?
I photographed a lot of captive birds and mammals being released. It’s always better if there are a number being released as the direction and speed of their departure is very unpredictable. This unpredictable nature of wildlife photography is an aspect I like because it adds a richness to all experiences.
And (if you really had to choose) what is the hardest thing or an element you don’t like?
I don’t like the price of camera gear these days!
As part of his work as bush regenerator in many Big Scrub remnants, Iain has captured the Big Scrub in all it’s glory. The below are a few examples of the incredible photos he’s captured over the years. His photography of the Big Scrub is available to purchase at https://iainstych.picfair.com/albums/206483-sub-tropical-rainforest.