I have loved elephants for a long time now, don’t really know why. Maybe it is because it is in my blood, a grandfather on my father’s side was a rancher in Africa. Or maybe sometimes we are just born with an affinity for something ,to do something good with it. I have not been to Africa but it is one of my dreams to visit these majestic animals in their natural habitat one day. So when I came across the most beautiful images of elephants as well as other African animals in the October 2005 issue of B&W Photography Magazine I was hooked. The photographer’s name is Nick Brandt. After visiting his website I learned that he would have an exhibition of his work in New York. So in April of 2006 off I flew to New York for the opening night of his exhibit at the Staley-Wise Gallery so I could actually meet the man as well as see his work in person. This former director of music videos of the likes of Michael Jackson, Jewel and Moby was quite humble and had taken a whole new approach to photographing these wild animals. His love of Africa commenced during the making of a music video that was shot in Africa. He soon started coming back to Africa to photograph the animals in their natural surroundings.
This year however he came back to find the beauty was diminishing at much greater rate and he could no longer do nothing. Now as a side note I will admit I am not a fan of hunting but I can make peace with those that do on the contingency that: 1. the population of the prey allows it and 2. the whole animal is used. This is not what is happening in Africa now. One thing is driving this poaching, money in the form of ivory, skins etc. So in response to an ever-increasing need for manpower and resources to aid in preserving these animals Nick started his own non-profit organization called Big Life Foundation.
This slaughter is not restricted to just elephants. Here is an excerpt from Nick’s announcement of this organization:
“And it’s not just elephants. The lions are being poisoned at an incredible rate too. It’s become so bad that there are next to no lions left outside the national parks. Giraffes are also being killed at a faster rate for bush meat. There are even contracts out on zebras, as their skins are the latest fad in Asia.”
The whole announcement and all details can be found on his Facebook page. His website also has a section dedicated to info about this. The site he has set up solely for foundation info, updates etc is http://www.biglifeafrica.org/.
I know this is still a tough time for people financially but the best thing I can think to do is spread the word and contribute what little we can, no matter how small. I think more is accomplished when many do a little rather than when a few do a lot. So please spread the word and help a little. My hope is that the wildlife out there will have increased by the time I’m ready to make my trip.
The following images are all images taken by Nick Brandt on his previous trips to document these animals. The first three images are specific animals he was familiar with that have since been killed.