Bengt Berg (ornithologist)

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Bengt Magnus Kristoffer Berg (9 January 1885 in Kalmar, Småland, Sweden – 31 July 1967 in Halltorp, Kalmar, Sweden) was a Swedish ornithologist, zoologist, wildlife photographer, and writer.

Bengt Berg was one of the worlds first nature filmers. He was one of the very first nature photographers and filmers and also 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 speakers 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 greylag 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 southern most point they went to in Africa. 1930 He photographed the bearded vulture in the Himalayas, from a ballon 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 mans one moment thoughtlessness in nature and next moment unrealistic approach to being 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 Eriksberg, 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.

Selected works (in German)[edit]

  • Abu Markub. Mit der Filmkamera unter Elefanten und Riesenstörchen. Reimer, Berlin 1920
  • Arizona Charleys Junge. Verlag Putty, Wuppertal 1954
  • Der Lämmergeier im Himalaja. Antigone-Verlag, Allendorf/Eder 2006, ISBN 3-929987-36-8
  • Die letzten Adler. Reimer, Berlin 1943
  • Die Liebesgeschichte einer Wildgans. Reimer, Berlin 1949
  • Mein Freund, der Regenpfeifer. Antigone-Verlag, Allendorf/Eder 2003, ISBN 3-921755-78-6
  • Meine Jagd nach dem Einhorn. Rütten & Loening, Frankfurt/M. 1933
  • Mit den Zugvögeln nach Afrika. Antigone-Verlag, Allendorf/Eder 2001, ISBN 3-929987-28-7
  • Tiger und Mensch. Limpert-Verlag, Frankfurt/M. 1958

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