Francis Hirn photographing cats in their natural habitat. The passion that took him to the ends of the world. From wild cats in the forests of the Vosges to snow leopards in the Indian Himalayas, Alsatian photographers share their encounters with us in pictures.
Francis Hirn is very fond of wild animals. When he started, he far from imagined that a photograph of a capercaillie, taken in the Vosges mountains in 1972, would take him 50 years later to Southeast Asia. Looking for snow leopards.
Famous for its big cat photos, its collection of photos of local species is also impressive. From the age of 18, the Alsatian naturalist set ambitious goals. In search of unspoiled nature, he first made a series of trips to Europe, then to Kenya. Francis met the lion there. This is the start of a long adventure that will take him around the world.
Nicolas Baïkov’s hunting stories in Siberia and especially Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book mark his childhood. Later, in the 2000s, the underlying obsession with tigers came to light. His first trip to India and his encounter with a Bengal tiger marked him forever. Since then, Francis Hirn has been there 35 times, the equivalent of more than a year and a half spent there.
But photography is not the end of a journey. His wanderings allowed him to meet residents of remote villages. An opportunity to share their life, their traditions and capture these moments, before returning to the Munster valley.
Year after year, Francis travels around the continent to find tigers, lions, panthers, cougars, leopards, jaguars, lynx or wildcats. These species, living in completely different biotopes, are all amazing and fascinating. But snow leopards hold a special place in photographers’ hearts.
Because this mythical animal lives in remote parts of the Himalayas. To try to approach it, you must be prepared for the cold and walk at an altitude of more than 4000 meters. Opportunities to photograph it are very rare. Francis Hirn can boast of having researched, seen and photographed it, just like Vincent Munier who recorded it some time later.
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