The International League of Conservation Writers is a forum to bring writers together from around the world who are writing to promote wilderness, nature, conservation, or using other means to protect and restore the natural areas, habitats, animals, and plants of our planet. ILCW will present periodic writing awards to authors who excel in this field.


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International League of Conservation Writers

Writing to inspire the love of nature and a passion for its protection.

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Sept. 18-25, 2016

Extremadura, Spain: Bustards, Sandgrouse and Vultures!

Led by David Lindo, The Urban Birder and Extremadur-based Martin Kelsey.


September 23-29, 2016 (maximum of 12 participants.) ILCW co-founder and  fellow Boyd Norton  photography workshop normally fills up quite rapidly - and did this year. However, we just had a few folks cancel for medical reasons and so we now have 3 spaces open up. The Absaroka Ranch is in the heart of the Yellowstone-Grand Teton region and is in a magnificent setting. There is still time to join Jim Griggs and me in this great week of creative photography and learning. More information. 

Sept. 30-Oct. 11, 2016

A 12-day Peruvian Adventure for
Woman Writers

Space is limited to 12 women

Discover the Sacred Valley, Patacancha, Cusco, and Machu Picchu. Watch the nimble fingers of the women weavers with their vibrant strands of wool. Open the pages of your journal and weave your own tapestry with word. Travel with ILCW member Page Lambert. To find more information about the trip click here.

Sept. 30-Oct. 7, 2016

Autumnal Portugal: Lisbon Estuaries, Alentejo and Algarve Regions.

Led by David Lindo, The Urban Birder and Joao Jara.


October 2017 Photo tour in  Chile of the Lakes Region and Patagonia, including Torres del Paine National Park with Boyd Norton.

Boyd is the recipient of the prestigious Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography, presented to him in September 2015 by the Sierra Club president. He is the author and photographer of 17 books, including Serengeti: The Eternal Beginning (Fulcrum, 2011) and Conservation Photography Handbook: How to Save the World One Photo at a Time (Amherst Media, 2016) both of which received high praise from Jane Goodall and others.

Boyd has been conducting his highly popular photography workshops for 43 years. His workshops have spanned the globe and have included Galapagos Islands, Kenya, Botswana, Rwanda, Siberia, Alaska, Antarctica, Peru, Borneo, Bali, Belize and numerous locales in North America. For information on his scheduled workshops and others planned contact him.

Oct. 5-7, 2016

European Wilderness Academy Days, Uzhhorod, Western Ukraine

The event hopes to raise awareness for wilderness protection. Topics of focus: Old-Growth Beech Forest—Threats and opportunities; Sustainable Tourism in the Carpathians—Saving wilderness through tourism; Wild Rivers—the next frontier; Ukraine—Nature conservation between Post-Soviet and Pre-European legislation; Ranger wilderness education in Europe—best practices; and more. For more information click here.

Nov 15-16, 2016

WildSpeak, Washington, DC

Filmmaker and ILCW member Jon Bowermaster is to be the emcee. Put on by the International League of Conservation Photographers, speakers include: Amy Gulick, Laurent Geslin, and Garth Lenz. For more information, click here for the ILCP website.

January 31- February 12, 2017

Tanzania photo safari. This marks Boyd Norton’s 32nd year of his very popular Tanzania photo tours.



ILCW now on Facebook

ILCW members, please check out the ILCW Facebook page and add content. Tell us what you are working on, what changes you see in the area of conservation (good and bad) in your area, include news from you: have you recently won any awards or accolades? Have you recently published a new book or article or perhaps finished a piece of art, performance piece, photo that glorifies the natural world? This page is for you, please enjoy and generate interest in ILCW and what we do.

ILCW facebook


Looking for Creative People Who Appreciate Nature

Do you have a friend or a colleague who is passionate about Nature and believes that we should protect what we have for future generations? ILCW welcomes all creative people (not just writers) who use their talent to bring awareness to the plight of our natural world. Have them apply to be an ILCW member at




Do you have news?

Let us know if you have won an award, written a new book, or launched a creative endeavor to bring awareness to conservation. Chances are the ILCW membership is not aware of these things, so be sure and tell us. Send items to:

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           “What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.” Mahatma Gandhi


Member Writings

Machli, the Tigress Who Reigned
Over Ranthambhore

By Neha Sinha, ILCW member (India)

Previously published by The WIRE

Consider this: a lifetime achievement award for rendering services to conservation and tourism was bestowed on her. A stamp was dedicated to her. When she breathed her last, policemen hoisted her garlanded body onto their shoulders, and several departments joined hands in giving her a ceremonial funeral. Her children are well established. And – we are talking of a tigress.

Machli, a matriarch of four tiger litters in Ranthambhore tiger reserve, passed away this week (the week of August 14, 2016). In her death, as in her life, Machli was larger than life even as the world in the wild is inscrutable. ‘Striking’ may be one way of describing the image of seeing a whiskered, striped, giant non-human head on the collective shoulders of policemen – and thus the shoulders of the state. And Machli was striking as much in what she did – she was a strutting, fearless and bold tigress – as for what she seemed to stand for. Known by epithets such as the ‘oldest tiger in the world’ (she lived up to nearly 20 years) and the ‘most photographed tiger in the world’, Machli seemed to fulfil a human need to rely on witnessing a wild, fierce animal, and believe in that animal’s legend.

It is perhaps with Machli that deeply personal associations with individual wild animals started in India. For instance, following the disappearance of the burly tiger Jai from Umred this year, departmental teams have gone out searching for him, Facebook dedications have followed and several columns of newsprint filled. Last year, another Ranthambhore tiger, Ustad, created a furor he was utterly unaware of: a decision to move him to a zoo after he allegedly killed a forest guard was replete with emotional and political controversy. Ustad lovers took out candle light marches in various Indian cities under the banner of ‘Je Suis Ustad‘, demanding his release from “incarceration and imprisonment”. A case was filed in the Rajasthan high court asking that Ustad remain in Ranthambhore, though he was eventually moved to a zoo. It was alleged that Ustad became a scapegoat for some sections of the park establishment who thought he was dangerouz

If this intense, personal ownership of an animal is to augur something for conservation, Machli was certainly a pioneer for the personality-driven, anthropomorphised conservation. She has been the subject of entire calendars, documentaries, photographs, and a Wikipedia page, and has been the centre of lore.

The first fleck of legend comes from the truth: in her boldness, Machli showed generations of photographers and tourists rare insights into tiger sociology and behaviour. She weaved in and out of tourist vehicles in Ranthambhore with her nose in the air, without batting an eyelid and without annoyance. “She was a remarkably confident tigress. She has mated out in the open, she walked with her cubs out in the open, and she never seemed to mind the presence of people,” says Belinda Wright, who runs the Wildlife Protection Society of India. Wright recalls how Machli took on a crocodile, defending her cubs and their meal. In a battle that lasted almost 90 minutes, she lost two canines. But while qualities of maternal love, protectiveness, courage and valour are universally feted and recognised by humans, Machli’s role in Ranthambhore and Sariska’s tiger biology is the most important.

“Machli dominated the Ranthambhore lake area for nearly a decade. And her confidence in front of tourists and cameras made her the subject of many photos. But the most important part is that she has repopulated Ranthambhore with her cubs and stabilised the park’s population,” Wright says.

It wasn’t just Ranthambhore.

By 2005, Sariska had lost all its tigers to poaching. In the times of modern tiger conservation, where the movement has both had negligence as well as the political resolve to restore tiger reserves, it was two of Machli’s progeny that were captured and airlifted to Sariska to repopulate the reserve.

‘Ma Machli’, ‘Queen Mother’ and ‘Lady of the Lake’ were nicknames given to the tigress. But her maternal’ identity also gave a solid peek into tiger behaviour: tigers maintain their own territories, ousting cubs, especially males. They guard this territory for life. “Machli was a long-lived tigress who lived longer than the average age of a tiger. She was a classic example of philopatry. She stayed around her natal area, and she also allowed her female litters to live in an adjoining territory,” says Rajesh Gopal, former member secretary of the National Tiger Conservation Authority. “Her iconic status needs to be used to further strengthen tiger conservation. A lot of credit goes to field personnel for monitoring her.”

This closeness felt to an individual animal, the naming, and the almost-human status, has not been without its critics. For instance, many believe that wild animals should not be anthropomorphised, named, or otherwise artificially attended to. After Machli lost her canine teeth, she was often provided with bait, and some other tigers in Ranthambhore too have been provided medical attention. Some conservationists believe that we should not interfere with the natural world, and only the fittest should survive. It is also alleged that making celebrity animals can interfere with the attention other species or lesser-seen individuals may need.

Others believe that living in the Anthropocene epoch, occasional interventions are now a fair part of ecology. This central debate is epitomised by Machli’s very long life and her survival.

“Ranthambhore is a very small park and it is surrounded by human pressures. It is not a regular practice for us to feed tigers or give them medical attention. We only do it occasionally,” G.V. Reddy, the chief wildlife warden of Rajasthan told The Wire. Machli was born in 1997, when Reddy was a divisional forest officer in Ranthambhore. Like many others, Reddy believes Machli was a special tigress, surviving many battles and long years.

It is true that if not for her own pluck, as well as an anthropogenic helping hand, Machli would not have had a state-sponsored, ceremonial cremation and an obituary written in a human language. But while debates for or against humanising tigers, and questions that examine the interplay of emotions and science continue, one thing is for sure. Machli shows us what happens if we give solid protection to tigers. “She has shown us what robust genes and family lines can emerge if we protect a wild tiger,” Reddy says. “She shows us the possibilities of tiger conservation.”

Neha Sinha is a Delhi-based conservationist.

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Call for Writing

The Fourth River's spring 2017 issue has the special theme of juvenescence (aka the state or period of being young​). What does it mean to be young in urban or rural, natural or human-made environments, and how can we celebrate the ways that places shape who we become? Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and visual art are welcome. Deadline is September 1 (general submissions are also open for prose, poetry, and art focusing on nature and place), and full guidelines are here

Kudzu House Quarterly (formerly the Kudzu Review) is looking for creative and/or scholarly writing focused on our place in a "post-natural" world. From the guidelines: "...Show us the “new-nature” with your place, post-colonial, eco-travel, post-gender, and activist writing. Give us new takes on what “natural” even means...Cast new light on rapid species extinction, climate change, food production, technology, sustainability and community. Make us laugh; make us cry. Show us what it means to exist in an ecosystem, a biosphere. Most of all, inspire us; give us hope." Deadline is September 1 for the winter issue and full guidelines are here

Lumina Journal is looking for fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and visual art for an issue dedicated to Borders and Boundaries, whether travel, immigration, maps, gender, sexuality, love, race, the physical body, prisons, rules, fences, the interior vs. the exterior...and any other way of interpreting this theme. Deadline is September 15 and full guidelines are here.

Scarlett Tanager Books is looking for ecopoetry for an anthology dedicated to California's species, habitats, and ecosystems. Poems should be ecologically accurate but also have historical, emotional, political, spiritual, or philosophic content that celebrates California's landscapes while also documenting destruction and change. Deadline is September 16 and full guidelines are here

Thank you for this information to: Adrienne Ross Scanlan, ILCW member (USA), at the Blue Lyra Review.


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