During my visit to Africa in July of last year, I spent a couple of days with Joeseph Ramakokovhu and Ruben Mhiangu of the Marula Lodge. The pair of native South Africans from the Venda and Sotho tribes, respectively, work as trackers for the big game lodge that caters to foreigners. The owner of the Marula Lodge, Gerard and his girlfriend and partner, Linda are experts in their field. Gerard knows just about every species of wildlife, flora and fauna in Africa and Linda, being the director over Africa for SCI, an organization devoted to hunters rights and conservation, is no slouch either. Collectively the couple is a powerhouse of knowledge on not only the region, but wildlife and hunting all over the globe.
Being from Texas, I was raised in a culture of hunting, I used to spend nearly every weekend with my father hunting geese and duck, but over the years I’ve grown a bit disgusted with the thought of killing an animal. I’m no PETA member, nor am I even vegetarian, but the only thing I shoot these days is my camera.
The few days I spent with Gerard and Linda made me appreciate the act of conservation and hunting as long as the hunters are actually honest and educated rather than just out for a cool-looking trophy for their wall. They helped us realize that sometimes we have to hunt elephant because uncontrolled, their species, as destructive as they are, can systematically wipe out hundreds of other, lower, species.
I still don’t intend on picking up a rifle and heading out to the bush, but I did learn, and had a great experience while doing it. This short photo essay entitled “Killing to Conserve” is the result of my time on the Marula Lodge. The first 18 images of the slideshow is how the essay appeared in my most recent portfolio book. The sequencing might change periodically. The rest of the images are outtakes.
Intro: Alldays, a remote village in the Limpopo province of South Africa, is known for its abundance of Mopane tree bush, arid climate and diamond mines. Situated near one of the largest active diamond mines in South Africa is the Marula Lodge, a private game reserve devoted to the preservation of the sport of big game hunting for conservation rather than poaching.