Press release 03.08.2021

The Wild Heart of Europe - Admont Photo Exhibition


The Gesäuse Entrance offers a striking view of the rugged mountain world of the Austrian "Rocky Mountains". It has been under protection since 1988, when it was declared a natural monument. In 2002, the Styrian Gesäuse National Park was founded, which declared the Gesäuse Entrance, or a total of 12,000 hectares of mountain, forest and river, a strict protection zone. Only here does the Enns, Austria's longest inland river at 254 kilometres, show a near-natural picture. Instead of always asking about the benefits of a wild animal or a landscape, we should be glad that untouched landscapes still exist. Not only because they fulfil important ecosystem functions, but also because they nourish our souls. From now until October, a large-format - and at the same time magnificent - open-air photo show of the Gesäuse National Park in Admont's Eichelau will transport visitors to the "wild heart of Europe".

Wilderness is not exactly the first term one associates with Central Europe. But in fact there are still wild spots in the heart of Europe. Over the course of the last five years, the Austrian conservation photographer couple Marc Graf and Christine Sonvilla have come across a lot of wildness in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland and Italy. And the two have found that wildlife can become more again!

Why is this good news? Quite simply, wild nature is where biodiversity emerges and spills over into adjacent areas. It is our reinsurance for stable, functioning ecosystems and for an intact planet. No money in the world can replace this "service". That is why it is important that nature becomes wilder again.

"Rewilding" is a young conservation current that is dedicated to precisely this goal, while offering solutions on how to combine wilderness and economy. The returning wilderness should not displace humans, it should rather help them survive!

With the photo exhibition "The Wild Heart of Europe" Christine Sonvilla and Marc Graf present some still truly wild spots in Central Europe. They show primeval forests, unspoilt rivers, wild mountain landscapes and their animal inhabitants, ranging from the smallest inconspicuous creatures to the largest predators in Europe.  They are all, just like humans, part of the fascinating living world of our planet. It is time for humans to realise that they cannot and will not survive alone, in a perfectly ordered world. It is time for more wilderness, in us as well as around us!


Who are the photographers?

Marc Graf and Christine Sonvilla are professional nature photographers, filmmakers and authors with university degrees in conservation biology (Marc & Christine) and German language and literature (Christine), whose photos and work have won several international awards.

Their main focus is documenting wildlife and conservation issues, and they have worked on a wide variety of subjects: Their spectrum ranges from Arabian oryx antelopes in Oman to wild mountain animals in Norway, alligators and pumas in the Florida Everglades to wildlife in cities and large predators in Central Europe. For several years, they have been pursuing the long-term project "LIFE AT THE LIMIT" and show the limits, i.e. the challenges, with which especially large predators of our latitudes such as European brown bears, lynxes and wolves have to struggle.

They regularly publish their photo stories in nature magazines. "The Return of the Bears" appeared as a cover story in the German edition of National Geographic magazine in June 2018. They also produce short films and image trailers for national parks, tourism, conservation and science institutions, develop footage for TV nature documentaries and work as photo trainers for the Canon Academy Austria.


General press enquiries: Isabella Mitterböck, Tel: 0664/34 65 629



Use exclusively for reports in connection with this press release and with citation of the image rights. Any other use of the image material requires the consent of Gesäuse National Park GmbH.

You will find more photos on the topics of National Park, Gesäuse region, nature and culture in the Gesäuse image database. The image database has a sophisticated keyword search and download options: https://partnerportal.gesaeuse.pixxio.media/login (initial registration is required).

Copyright: Martin Hartmann Gesäuse National Park GmbH

Copyright: Martin Hartmann Gesäuse National Park GmbH

Copyright: Martin Hartmann Gesäuse National Park GmbH

Copyright: Martin Hartmann Gesäuse National Park GmbH

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