It’s always good to be able to start the New Year on a positive note. So the launch of a major new ‘photography for conservation’ project for rhinos this month certainly gets the thumbs up from Project African Rhino, not only because we hope to play a small part in its success, but also because it follows hot on the huge tracks of a similar initiative for elephants last year that, at last count in December 2016, had raised more than £130,000 for grassroots elephant conservation schemes.
‘Remembering Elephants’ involved a group of 65 wildlife photographers from around the world, including ourselves, loosely grouped under the umbrella title ‘Wildlife Photographers United’, coming together to donate some of their best images to create a stunning coffee table book. The book celebrates the life-cycle of this much-loved species through a series of remarkable and often famous images.
What started as an acorn idea for producer of the book and wildlife photographer Margot Raggett, took root so firmly that by the end of 2016 the book had sold out (a reprint is now under consideration) and the spin-off exhibition in London and subsequent auction of prints were declared a massive success. Book production and printing was paid for via a Kickstarter campaign and 100 per cent of proceeds from the sales went directly to fight the battle against poaching.
Support for the whole concept grew so much through the year Margot soon realised the momentum behind ‘Remembering Elephants’ could be channeled to help other species placed at risk of extinction by the illegal trade in wildlife products. Which is why as 2017 gets underway ‘Remembering Rhinos’ – the sequel – has been launched with a second fund-raising campaign due to begin in February and a follow-up book due to be released around October.
The funding this project could bring for rhino conservation on the ground is very much needed. A book that shows off just what’s at stake if we turn our back on this species is to be welcomed and supported. What’s more the belligerent beauty of rhinos is often overlooked and it’s our own firm belief such a book showcasing these species is long overdue. How can we not be captivated by that ponderous face encapsulating some 60 million years of evolution?
‘I spent a long time thinking very carefully about what should follow ‘Remembering Elephants’ and while I know perhaps rhinos don’t have the cute popular appeal of elephants for the wider public, they need our help desperately,’ said Margot, launching the new campaign this week. ‘Please follow our page Remembering Rhinos, and stay tuned for updates.’
As wildlife photographers we often ask ourselves whether our pictures really make a difference. The success of ‘Remembering Elephants’ reminds us that they sometimes do and that, however small, we can each of us come together and play our part in effecting vital change in the natural world; helping save endangered and vulnerable species like rhinos.
We hope you’ll make sure of your copy and follow ‘Remembering Rhinos’ progress in the coming year.