As an “ethical photographer,” Catherine Babault is not as concerned about getting the shot as she is with raising awareness about wildlife conservation and habitat protection.
She practices what she preaches each time she sets foot in the mountains of Vancouver Island, home to the only endemic mammal species to B.C. — the Vancouver Island Marmot.
Babault, a professional nature and wildlife photographer who lives in Courtenay, has published a book about Canada’s most endangered mammal. The title is Vancouver Island Marmot, The World’s Rarest Marmot, which features 89 photos of pups play-fighting, adults caring for their young, and marmots eating, grooming and keeping an eye out for predators, along with images of their natural habitat.
She is releasing the book on Wednesday, Dec. 21.
Along with photos, the book contains text written by herself and by experts involved in recovery efforts to save the marmot from extinction. The experts are from the Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Foundation, Vancouver Island University, and the Toronto and Calgary zoos. Their goal is to remove the Vancouver Island Marmot from endangered species lists.
Babault hopes to raise awareness through photography. In 2003, only 27 Vancouver Island marmots were estimated to exist in the wild. As of last summer, she said the number has increased to about 250, thanks to breeding-in-captivity programs.
“Sometimes, when I went to photograph them, it was last summer, I would show up very early in the morning, and I had to wait for them to wake up,” she said with a laugh. “So I had the opportunity to see other species while I was there. I saw a grouse with her little chicks at one point, and they are in the book…Sometimes you go for one species and they don’t show up, so you end up taking pictures of other animals.”
Babault has been a full-time photographer for about five years. She gives photo tours and workshops to tourists, and sells photos to magazines.
“I have clients all over the world.”
She will be on the cover of Douglas College’s Event Magazine in January. She will also have an article about the Vancouver Island marmot published this spring in Nature Sauvage, a Quebec publication.
Babault’s previous book, Vancouver Island Wildlife, a Photo Journey (2020), received a Nautilus Book Award in 2021. Created in the U.S. in 1998, the awards honour books that ‘inspire and connect our lives as individuals, families, communities and global citizens.’ Her award was in the middle grade category.
Visit Babault’s website at catherinebabault.com