More words have been written about the dodo than any other extinct animal. Yet the truth is that almost nothing is known of this strange creature. The bird lived only on the small isolated island of Mauritius way out in the Indian Ocean. The first mention of it comes in a book published in 1599. Around 60 years later the species was extinct. What survives from this brief period of interaction with human beings is very little. Some 15 written accounts (most of which are disappointing) a similar number of paintings, a large pile of bones, and a stuffed head and foot.
The Suguta Valley, also known as the Suguta Mud Flats, is an arid part of the Great Rift Valley in Kenya directly south of Lake Turkana. It is one of the driest parts of Kenya, with annual rainfall below 300 millimetres. Last time I was here was with Sir David Attenborough and the crew of ‘africa’. From new work for National Geographic out in Octobers edition of the magazine.
The Nyae Nyae Conservancy has used the income generated from their park; a large proportion of which originates from managed elephant hunts, to build and manage water points specifically for elephants away from the human lands, to manage game, and distrubute salt licks in the dry season. The members of the conservancy are also often given cash incentives to keep these water points functioning. They are totally independant of outside government assistance.Currently, approximately 14% of Namibia is designated as protected areas, which is equivalent to 112,000 km². Adding the protected communal conservancy lands brings the total to 192, 000 km² of land under some protection. Some exist under an unsystematic figuration design, but 17 of the 29 conservancies (inc Nyae Nyae) actually lie adjacent to the government’s protected area networks. This then increases the continuity between protected areas and result in migration routes for elephants and other large range animals. In addition to direct income, the community gains approx 3 tons of meat from each sucessful hunt. The hunter leaves with ivory, cape (skin), and the feet of the elephant. The current quota for elephant in the conservancy is 5 mature trophy bulls, and 4 non trophy bulls per year. As a result of these conservancies, there are many instances in which wildlife populations are on the rebound. Poaching has decreased dramatically, and is most likely due to the shift in the perceived value of wildlife. The conservancy members now see that the sustainability of the wildlife is important for providing economic development in game hunting and ecotourism, and often game guards are employed to protect the wildlife from poaching. Animals such as elephants, oryx, buffalo, Hartmann’s zebra, springbok and lion, are once again providing biodiversity to the country of Namibia. The black rhino population has recovered to become one of the largest free-roaming herds, and the cheetah population the worlds largest at 2500 individuals. From new work for National Geographic out in Octobers edition of the magazine.
At the edge of the Kalahari Desert in Namibia, in a community-run wildlife reserve called Nyae Nyae, where roughly 2800 San people live today in unyielding conditions, villagers shovel dirt over the skull of a bull elephant hunted earlier in the day. It will be dug up about a week later when the muscles around the tusks have receded. The hunter will take the tusks home, while the meat, and a portion of the fee will go directly to community members, and to fund for conservation projects to protect the area’s wildlife. There is a trophy hunt limit of five elephants a year in Nyae Nyae representing real money, and a vital source of protien to the San.Seen from the air Africa can appear as an illusion, rich velds and dramatic rifts, wide deserts and thundering rivers, these seemingly vast stretches of unfettered, unpopulated wild ostensibly forgotten by time and people. At a glance, it could be a repository for all our ideas about wilderness at its wildest. And yet today no patch here goes unclaimed, whether it’s marked, monetized, or fought over. The animals that roam the land have become commodified, part of a new consumerism, marketed and sold, their brands pitted against each other, their continued existence now a question of human demand, whim, and calculation. Wild game is the continent’s version of crude oil—and it too will run out someday. Revenues of hundreds of millions in federal excise taxes levied on hunters go directly to wildlife management and related activities each year in the U.S. alone. And anyone who keeps a freezer full of venison is likely to tell you that the act of killing your own dinner in the wild is more humane than buying the plastic-wrapped meat of industrially raised livestock. This hugely complex relationship that exists between man and animal, the hunter and the hunted, has always been one of the most difficult to navigate; we need to create a space for much needed dialogue, we can not, and should not simply turn away. This story is out in Octobers issue of National Geographic.
A really great event the Francesca Maffeo Gallery.
A real pleasure to share this exciting platform with gallery director Francesca Genovese-Wheeler and a super talented bunch @matthewpaulfinn @laurapannack @sophieharristaylor @celinemarchbank look forward to other gallery events, great learning, thank you