13 December, 2018

Bengt Berg



Bengt Magnus Kristoffer Berg was a Swedish ornithologist, zoologist, wildlife photographer, and writer.

Bengt Berg was one of the world’s first nature filmographers. He was one of the very first nature photographers and filmographers and one of the very top in the world of his time. He started photographing at around 1910. At the Victoria theatre in Berlin, the biggest "cinematograph theatre" at the time, he would explain to the audience from a speaker’s chair during his soundless films. During one consecutive period of four months there was full house (2600 people each show) twice a day every day. He was also the author of almost 30 books translated into 16 languages. His books were full of wildlife photographs and questioning, humorous stories from Sweden, Africa, India, Bhutan and the Himalayas. He was a vivid debater of various subjects to do with birds, flora, fauna in general. More than often his booming voice or pen would declare that man was taking far too greedy or indeed urban view and place in nature. Bengt Berg was many things beside a photographer and a writer. He was also a hunter and a believer in a natural life as a being amongst other animals. But first and foremost, his love was birds and in his writing, he was never far from words declaring his passion for the winged creatures surrounding us all: Thanks to him the sea eagle, the graylag goose, the golden eagle and the mute swan of Sweden were saved. He was the first to film the shoebill stork in South Sudan (early 1920s) Also in the 20s he followed the common cranes from Europe to find out the southernmost point they went to in Africa. 1930 He photographed the bearded vulture in the Himalayas, from a balloon basket fastened to a very long rope. Here he (and sometimes his wife) hung precariously and at great heights to get clear pictures of the birds, inside their caves on the cliff walls. But it was not only birds: At home in Sweden he was deeply involved in fencing private land to protect and understand more about the red deer, and his travels across the globe also turned him towards filming, photographing and writing of mammals like the elephants of Africa, the tigers and rhinoceros of India. When he came home from his filming of the shoebill stork in South Sudan he also had in his trunks the longest piece of film so far taken of the African elephant, and through his book of the Indian rhino in 1932 he brought the world to attention that the Chinese were killing them off at great speed in their demand for rhino horn. Dr. Bengt Berg looked with a very sober, albeit furious, gaze at man’s one moment thoughtlessness in nature and next moment unrealistic approach to be a human animal amongst other animals. Some thought him too loudly critical of man and claimed that he loved other kinds more than his own. "Do not judge me on my person but on the work, I have done here" were words he wrote not long before he died. 31 July 1967, 82 years old, he died from a stroke while swimming in the archipelago at his estate at Rosberg, Blekinge, Sweden.

He is best remembered for his many travel books, his naturalist photographs and movies, taken on several expeditions around the world, including Europe, Africa and Asia.

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