Enter our nature-writing contest and share your passion for wildlife and wild places. You could win a place on a research expedition to Madagascar!
How to win
- The judges are looking for a short piece of nature writing (800 words) that describes your experience of the wild.
- You could write about plants, animals, natural events or places, or any combination of these – it’s up to you.
- Relate something you observed closely, and approach it in a way that’s unique to you. In recent years we’ve received entries about subjects as varied as tame crows, a wildcat encounter, surveying dragonflies and a house spider spinning its web.
First prize The winning story will be published in BBC Wildlife (in the September 2013 issue) and at www.discoverwildlife.com. Plus the winner also earns a place on one of the three exciting – and worthwhile – Earthwatch expeditions described below.
- PRIZE 1: Carnivores of Madagascar (13 days) Help field biologists study the fosa, one of Madagascar’s rarest endemic mammals, and devise ways to preserve its unique forest home. You will assist with a capture-and-release project.
- PRIZE 2: Dolphins of Greece (8 days) Join boat-based surveys of dolphins in the Amvrakikos Gulf. You will help local scientists to study dolphin groups and identify individuals.
- PRIZE 3: Mammal Conservation in South Africa (12 days) Join a project that is developing new methods of managing conflicts between wildlife and livestock in the spectacular Soutpansberg Mountains. You will help study a range of species, such as leopards, hyenas and baboons.
- Three runners-up will all receive three great books published by Bloomsbury: Extinct Boids by Ralph Steadman and Ceri Levy; Silent Spring Revisited by Conor Mark Jameson; and a Poyser ornithological monograph of their choice.
- Plus their stories will be published on our website.
Miriam Darlington is a poet and author. Otter Country (Granta), her account of a year-long lutrine quest around Britain, was one of the most acclaimed works of nature writing in 2012.
Ben Hoare edited wildlife books for 12 years before joining BBC Wildlife. He has kept a nature diary since he was seven (and is a bit better at spelling nowadays).
Rob Stringer is media officer for Earthwatch, reporting on its conservation research from around the world. He loves the great outdoors and is a self-confessed bookworm.
Kate Humble is one of the BBC’s best-known wildlife presenters. An enthusiastic Earthwatch supporter, she is an avid reader of nature writing in all its many forms.
Paul Evans is a broadcaster with the BBC’s Natural History radio team, writes a nature diary for the Guardian and teaches creative writing at Bath Spa University.
2 The competition is open to all writers aged 18 and over, whether previously published or not, other than employees of Immediate Media Co and Earthwatch and their immediate families.
3 One entry per person.
4 The story should be no longer than 800 words.
5 If entering by post, the story must be typed with double-line spacing on A4 paper and on one side only. Do not write your name on the story. Instead, write one anonymous tag word in the top right-hand corner of each page. Write the same tag word on an envelope containing the completed entry form. Stick this envelope to the back of the story. Stories cannot be returned.
7 The story must not have been entered in or won a prize in any other competition anywhere in the world, nor have been previously published. It must be your own original work and not written jointly with or by any other person.
8 By entering, you grant Immediate Media Co the non-exclusive right to reproduce your story for any purpose in connection with the competition at any time in any media without compensation.
9 All entries must be received by 30 April 2013. Proof of posting is not proof of receipt.
10 Stories will be judged by an independent panel. We reserve the right to change the advertised judges.
11 The judges’ decision on matters relating to this competition is final. Sorry, no correspondence will be entered into.
12 BBC Wildlife reserves the right to withhold prizes if, in the opinion of the judges, the quality of entries falls below the standard required.
13 Winners will be notified by email by July 2013.
14 The winner may choose one of three expeditions provided by Earthwatch, and must travel in autumn or winter 2013. The prize includes return flights (which must be booked through Earthwatch’s preferred travel agency), all meals and expedition activities. Expedition durations are shown on the opposite page. Earthwatch reserves the right to change aspects of the trip. There are no cash alternatives, and the prize cannot be transferred. Entrants must be fit enough for safari travel.
15 The winner is required to write an additional 1,000-word article about their experience by the end of 2013. Earthwatch may publish it in any media.