theekupania is an incredible animal whisperer. He has gone from taking care of his family’s livestock to becoming one of the best wildlife keepers in Kenya. He has rehabilitated many species, from pigs to pigs, and has never lost an animal in his care. He saved even the most difficult and difficult creatures, such as Grevy’s zebraIt is a critically endangered species.
Lekupania operates in Namunyak wild animals Conservation in Far North Kenya. The giraffe is an orphaned baby “reticulated giraffe” called Fupi, which means Shorty in Swahili. Phoebe was injured when he fell into a ditch. It has been rehabilitated and released back into the wild. And now all the rehabilitated giraffes come every morning to check on Lycopania. They tour the stables and greet him, then head back out into the wild.
This photo was taken in 2016, during a drought. Today’s giraffes are slowly and silently becoming extinct. Sometimes it’s due to poaching, but in this part of Kenya it’s mostly about drought and habitat loss. Current estimates are that giraffe numbers across Africa have declined by 40% in three decades, from around 155,000 in the late 1980s to less than 100,000 today. There are just under 16,000 reticulated giraffes left across Africa. West Africa and Rothschild giraffes They face more difficult situations.
I only have a few frames for this moment. I was so far away when I saw him. Trying not to scare the giraffe, I moved quickly and quietly so I could capture the intimacy between these two. The moment passed quickly: the giraffe bent over and that was it.
For me, photography has always been about wanting to understand the world we live in. I wanted to understand why there was so much suffering, and I became a conflict photographer covering the war in Kosovo, then Angola, Afghanistan, Israel and Palestine, and Sierra Leone. I spent four years photographing the conflict between India and Pakistan – trying to understand it more deeply.
I realized that the background of every story is the natural world. In some cases, it was the scarcity of basic resources, such as water. In others, it was the changing climate and the loss of fertile soil. But I’m beginning to understand that it’s the demands placed on our ecosystem that drive conflict and human suffering. Indigenous communities have always understood how important the natural world is to their existence. I think they hold the keys to saving what’s left of wildlife and nature.
I need to tell these stories, because we’re going through a sixth mass extinction. My stories focus on challenges but I try to find solutions and amplify important voices that have not traditionally been given a platform.
Photography is a powerful way to inspire people to care about the planet. We need more storytellers and photographers who focus on environmental issues, which is why I founded the nonprofit vital effects which raises funds for grassroots conservation projects through the sale of fine art prints. We’ve also created a mentorship program for 50 applicants and two $20,000 grants for photographers to work on environmental storytelling over the long term. I want to create a whole generation of activists.
Biography of Vitaly’s mom
Boy: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 1971
trainee: “Mainly self taught, but with a few photography classes from a professor that changed my life.”
Effects: Lynn Johnson, Maggie Stepper, Eve Arnold.
High point: “Realizing photography can make tangible changes in people’s lives.”
low point: In Palestine, a building was blown up as I was running toward it. The only reason I’m not in it is because my batteries fell out of my camera. The moment I stopped to bring them back inside, a missile from a helicopter hit the building and vaporized in front of me.”
Top tip: “Find a story to work on over a long period, to see the changes and understand the complexities. You don’t need to travel the world to tell powerful stories. Dive into a story in your own backyard.”