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Our Photograph Winner Ella McIvor enjoys her NG Prize!

“As the winner of the Roots & Shoots Most Outstanding Photograph competition I was lucky to be invited to visit the London HQ of National Geographic Kids Magazine to look behind the scenes of the making of the magazines and the photos behind the stories. I learned about the editing process and where the photos come from and how they come up with new stories each week. I met the team and it looked the most fun place to work ever – they even gave us cake. I came out thinking I really wanted to work there. Best job ever!

The next part of the day was to visit The London Wetland Centre – the perfect photo opportunity! It is a wonderful place to spot and photograph birds of all kinds in their natural habitat. Even with planes close overhead it feels like a wilderness with huge lakes and woodland right in the middle of London. Unlike many of the wonderful places in London like the royal parks and zoo, most of the wildlife choose to come here of their own free will, often migrating many hundreds or even thousands of miles. That’s what makes it so special – it is as natural as can be. Getting to see birds doing their thing is what the centre is all about! As well as the hides which overlook the lakes to watch the birds (some with telescopes) there are lots of guided tours as well as special activities and challenges for young rangers. My friend Eden and I learned how to spot birds and identify their everyday behavior such as dabbling and preening. We used a checklist to note our observations and kept a logbook.

The centre isn’t just about birds, it also focuses on inhabitants of the ponds and we really enjoyed pond dipping, swirling our nets to catch and examine pond life under a giant microscope.

But my favourite were the otters, Todd and Pip. I know they are not natural inhabitants and I know they do not choose to live here but conservation is close to my heart. The talk from the warden told us about the way Asian short claw otters are being killed in the wild because they are seen as vermin and also sold in markets as tropical pets or for medicine. This means they are now in danger, along with 12 other otter species. The need for raising awareness with locals is what stayed with me the most.

I would strongly recommend the London Wetland Centre as it offers an interactive, interesting experience where everybody can learn and have fun. 

Thank you so much NG Kids and Roots & Shoots! I had the best time!”

EllaMcIvor, James Allen’s Prep School

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