Welcome to the Jungle

By capturing the nature at our doorstep, Wiener Wildnis reveals what many of us overlook

Top Stories | Doris Neubauer | September 2013

It is 5:00 in the morning. They lie in damp grass that gets increasingly uncomfortable as time passes. They have waited for hours, listening for the slightest noise. Suddenly, one shot, and the waiting is forgotten. This is not Africa or the wilds of the Yukon. This is Vienna, where a group of intrepid local photographers can wait for months for the perfect moment. 

It’s a different kind of photography tour. Instead of St Stephen’s Cathedral, we see a hedgehog in the city park. Instead of the Ferris Wheel, we have spring’s awakening on the Danube. Rather than the well-worn charm of the Kaffeehaus, we see polliwogs in a pond. With photos like this, the multimedia-project "Wiener Wildnis" (Viennese Wilderness) draws a lesser-known picture of the Austrian capital.

Not many tourists know that Vienna is one of the greenest capitals in Europe. Even many locals remain unaware. Half of Vienna is made up of green areas; for every member of the population, there are roughly 120 square metres of park area. Moreover, about 9,900 hectares of the Viennese forest – with its 2,000 plants and 150 kinds of breeding birds – are all inside the city limits.


Urban safari

Experience is one of the main goals of Wiener Wildnis, which is supported by Wien Energie, NIKON Österreich, and the Viennese cemeteries. Founded in November 2012 by the internationally renowned photographer couple Georg Popp and Verena Popp-Hackner along with coordinator Michael Ganzwohl, the group invites audiences on an "urban safari."

"We show what nature has to offer in Vienna and things people usually do not see when walking by," initiator Georg Popp told The Vienna Review. Along with an underwater photographer and two wildlife-photographers, the couple regularly go on picture-hunts through the city’s "jungle". The photos and videos they bring back show surprising angles on the Viennese natural habitat: A family of foxes close to the Gürtel Stadtbahnbögen, a single deer in the Wiener Zentralfriedhof, or a beaver looking for food in the Danube. By displaying the pictures on their website, or at the Photo Adventure Fair planned for Autumn 2013, they hope to raise awareness of green Vienna.

Another goal of the project is to get the community involved. Wiener Wildnis not only provides regular tips for excursions, locations and other "jewels off the beaten track", they also invite people to share their discoveries in their website’s forum. "You discover new perspectives and look at things differently," Ganzwohl said. "Every excursion becomes an adventure."

Wiener Wildnis assumes that if you are more connected to nature and fauna, you are more inclined to protect Vienna’s natural habitat. So, follow their advice: "Take the nearest tram and keep your eyes open!"




Other articles from this issue: