Heinz Sielmann, the late German naturalist and documentary maker, was hailed for his ingenious way of capturing elusive animal behaviour on film.
Often referred to as “Mr Woodpecker”, Sielmann would have celebrated his birthday on June 2.
In his honour, Google is changing its logo in nine countries to a doodle, or illustration of him and nature.
This is his story:
Born in Rheidt, Germany in 1917, Sielmann moved to East Prussia at a young age where his father opened a business of electrical materials.
One of Sielmann’s most notable works was Carpenters of the Forest, which captured one of Europe‘s most elusive birds, the woodpecker, in a way that had never been seen before.
The film was an enormous success globally. The BBC, which broadcast it, was inundated with requests to show it again. The programme’s appreciation index matched that of a football final, according to British newspaper The Guardian.
Of all the animals that I have worked with, the woodpeckers are my favourites
In the late 1950s, Sielmann released his first feature film, Lords of the Forest, which was commissioned by Belgium’s king.
This film won first place at the Moscow Film Festival and quickly became one of his most known works.
He was of the first to capture the social nature of gorillas. His film showed that gorillas were gentle and sociable creatures, not the violent animals some people thought them to be.
In the next years, from 1965 to 1991, Sielmann presented a popular wildlife show on German Television, Expeditions into the Animal Kingdom.
In 1971, he filmed The Hellstrom Chronicle, which showed the struggle for survival between humans and insects. This film won an Oscar for best documentary.
He also was the cinematographer on a documentary about the sex lives of animals.
He founded the Heinz Sielmann Foundation, devoted to giving children a better understanding of conservation issues.
Sielmann died on October 12, 2006, in the German city of Munich. He was 89.