The duo of photographers Blue Nomads, composed by the couple Susana Silvestre and Ricardo Ferreira, spent two weeks carrying out a photographic mission in the Greater Côa Valley, with the goal of capturing through their lenses the work carried out by Rewilding Portugal, as well as all the natural heritage of the surrounding region. In their own words, let’s travel through this article with this incredible duo to learn more about their experience.
After more than 12 years with conventional office jobs, we thought it was time for new adventures and a greater connection to this wonderful planet we call home. But, more than that, what motivated us to change our lives was a search for contact with nature to help preserve the natural environment that surrounds us.
After a few years away from Portugal, we had the opportunity to settle in Africa and work with various wildlife conservation organizations, including on the African continent. It is a tremendous joy to observe the transformation of environments and ecosystems, where fauna and flora thrive again in a natural way when effective measures are implemented and, above all, monitored.
In this sense, it was with great pleasure and satisfaction that we accepted Rewilding Portugal’s challenge to collaborate on a photographic mission to the Greater Côa Valley in May 2021, with the aim of recording the valuable work and efforts of the entire Rewilding Portugal team, as well as the important results obtained over the years, with a view to preserving the environment and wildlife.
It was effectively gratifying to follow the daily work carried out in the field for 10 days, to have a greater perception of the existing challenges to achieve the objectives proposed and restore the environment. It is not an easy job at all. In fact, it is often inglorious, as mindsets ingrained over the years take their time to change and it takes a lot of resilience and motivation to keep going every day and never lose focus. However, people’s willingness to change and the positive results achieved with such determination help us forget the things that might be most disheartening.
One day, as we were moving to the Côa area, we saw two griffon vultures’ nests on a cliff and immediately stopped to observe them. Amazing how we so easily forget that birds like these used to be a constant sight in the skies across Europe and, today, we are ecstatic when we can observe them, as if they were a species that only belongs to other continents, namely Africa.
Another moment that marked us was, without a doubt, the day we accompanied the surveillance team. This is because, once again, when we think of rangers, we immediately think of the reality of African national parks and how important it is to protect animals such as the elephant or the rhinoceros. Yes, of course this is important, but it is equally important to protect animals from continents seen mostly as urban, such as Europe or North America, where we easily forget that there are also places that should ideally remain wild.
Simple details like having wild horses that roam natural corridors across Europe, pass by most of us who live trapped in a city life and oblivious from what really matters to future generations. Programs such as LIFE WolFlux or the rewilding of the Greater Côa Valley, developed by Rewilding Portugal, are therefore extremely important. These are programs as important as the most varied conservation programs for rhinos or elephants, and this is the message that we must get across, start here and then help out there.
Undoubtedly, this collaboration with Rewilding Portugal made us see the reality of ecosystems in Portugal and in the rest of Europe in a totally different and more complete way.
by Blue Nomads (Ricardo Ferreira and Susana Silvestre)