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Innovative project creates new ‘Big 5’ to raise awareness of endangered animals worldwide


Photographers, conservationists and wildlife lovers around the world have created an alternative 'Big 5' of iconic animals to inspire wildlife photography, rather than hunting.

A diverse group of more than 250 international photographers, conservationists and global wildlife charities have come together to support the project, which launched in April 2020. People around the world were then invited to vote for their five favourite animals to photograph or to see in photos.

“The aim of the project is to use the New Big 5 idea to get people thinking and talking about wildlife, and the threats they face,” said photographer and New Big 5 project's founder Graeme Green.

“The world's wildlife is in crisis. I wanted to use this project and the website we created to raise awareness on issues like habitat loss, the illegal wildlife trade and climate change.”

The five animals chosen by the public vote are elephants, lions, gorillas, polar bears and tigers. Five iconic species – but each facing severe challenges, despite their huge popularity.

New Big 5 animals
Elephant with baby

Elephants are the world's largest land mammal – and are enduringly popular with photographers and wildlife lovers.

But elephants are hunted for their ivory and meat, and their natural habitats are disappearing.

Lions are also in serious trouble, with only around 20,000 left in Africa. Meanwhile, gorilla numbers have plummeted in the past 25 years – primarily a result of poaching.

Polar bears are the world's largest carnivore, and a powerful symbol of sea ice loss from global climate warming.

Tigers are also endangered, with populations decreasing. It's estimated there are less than 3,900 tigers left in the wild globally – with more animals currently in captivity than living in natural, wild habitats.

The New Big 5 initiative is working to highlight the threats not just to these five remarkable animals, but to all wildlife species across the world.

“These five animals – elephants, polar bears, gorillas, tigers and lions – are such beautiful and remarkable species, and are wonderful ambassadors for the world's wildlife, from iconic species to little-known frogs, lizards, fish and birds,” said world-renowned conservationist Dr Jane Goodall, who is supporting the project.

“So many animals face threats to their survival from issues such as poaching, habitat loss and climate change. If we work together, we can stop this happening. There is always hope. Change is possible if we each play our part.”

Baby gorilla

The ultimate message of the New Big 5 project is that all wildlife deserves to exist, and every single species needs to be protected.

For more on the New Big 5, or for podcasts, interviews, articles, photo galleries and a free educational Fun Pack for young people, visit Follow the New Big 5 project on Instagram @newbig5project.

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