Thursday, October 25, 2012

Nick Brandt: Gifted Photographer and Dedicated Activist

 A cheetah with cubs
Chimp portrait
Walking through grass (Poachers killed the leading matriarch in 2009) Amboseli, Kenya, 2008

These are just some of the magnificent photographs by Nick Brandt who works exclusively in Africa. Brandt's newest book, ON THIS EARTH, A SHADOW FALLS is a visually poetic last testament to the wild animals and places there before they are gone at the hands of man. 

"I realized that I could no longer watch the destruction of this extraordinary ecosystem and its animals," said Brandt, and so in September 2010 he established the Big Life Foundation, a non-profit organization, in an effort to halt an alarming and massive escalation of poaching in East Africa.

Brandt explains:
In the Amboseli region of East Africa an extraordinary 2 million acre ecosystem in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro, straddling Kenya and Tanzania ― this elephant was just one of many elephants killed in the last few years by poachers. In fact, most of the large-tusked elephants that are featured in my books are now dead, killed by poachers for their ivory.

Since 2008, there has been a massively increased demand for ivory from China and the Far East. Ivory prices have soared from $200 a kilo in 2004 to more than $5,000 today. Some experts estimate that as much as 35,000 elephants a year are being slaughtered, 10% of Africa's elephant population each year alone. 

And the killing isn't limited to just elephants. An ounce of powdered rhino horn is now more expensive than an ounce of gold. There are now just 20,000 lions left in Africa a staggering 75% drop in just the last 20 years to the point that now no lions left outside protected areas, and even those are being poisoned when they roam outside those borders. This isn’t just due to population pressure they are also being killed for body parts for China now there are so few tigers left.  

The plains animals are getting slaughtered as well: Giraffes here in the region are 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 Amboseli ecosystem, which in my opinion, has the greatest population of elephants left in East Africa, has until now been incredibly vulnerable, suffering badly from insufficient funding for government and (the very few) non-profit organizations alike. 

So far, working within the Amboseli ecosystem of Kenya and Northern Tanzania, the Big Life teams have successfully dramatically reduced the level of killings of animals in the region.

The problem remains rampant elsewhere. Please go to to donate. 

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