I was called to do an assignment for Belinda Low and the Grevy’s Zebra Trust to photograph 73 individual portraits of their team plus the opening of the Grevy’s Zebra field camp in Westgate Conservancy-Northern Kenya.When I arrived I discovered, many of my subjects had been walking in from the bush for days and I was told I had exactly 2 days to complete this shoot. In short, I had to get creative fast.
I needed a studio, and so I found a rusty shipping container, which was actually the Grevy’s Zebra Trusts store and they very obligingly cleared half of it out for me. I took on a seriously good warrior assistant/translator/cinematographer who beamed reflected sunlight into the container and onto my subjects.
As I photographed, I began to realize this wasn’t just a one off assignment.
I realized that culture was contributing to the survival of an endangered species. I came to understand how photography (the warriors work exhibited in the exhibition), was also a large component of the Grevy’s story.
The above work was taken by the Samburu and Rendille warriors and represented at the National Museum Of Kenya.
Photography has several roles to play and the work of the warriors is evidence the Grevy’s Zebra Trust has had to play as scientists, scouts, observers and educators of a species in serious danger of disappearing.
Zebra People is an anthropological glimpse into the lives of a people working to protect one of the most endangered animals on the planet. Whats more, it gives us a chance to see what intelligent co –existence can look like and perhaps something we can all learn from.
The exhibition at the National Museum of Kenya was a bigger success than we could have imagined. It was opened by famed paleontologist and anthropologist and chairman of Kenya’s Wildlife Service Dr. Richard Leakey. Nairobi’s conservation minded citizens mingled with the Zebra People; Samburu and Rendille warriors. On their very first trip to Nairobi, they had traveled down to see their portraits on the walls of the National Museum and to represent their important work in saving the Grevy’s Zebras. Here are some pictures from the exhibition:
The project is a collaborative art experience between the Zebra People, The Grevy’s Zebra Trust and Mia Collis. We hope to have the exhibition travel to other parts of the world in the near future. Watch this space!
Links and Press:
Msafiri – http://www.msafirimag.com/featured-article/zebra-people/
The Sunday Times – http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/check-it-out-barcode-that-can-save-the-zebra-gv98ncc6d