World-renowned naturalist photographers join forces to protect the environment

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Written by Amarachi Orie, CNN

The last moments before the death of the last male northern white rhino, a 66-year-old elephant swimming in the ocean, and famous primatologist Jane Goodall in search of chimpanzees in Tanzania in the early 1960s; these are all moments captured in a collection of powerful photographs that have been donated to raise funds for conservation projects.

The works of 100 photographers from around the world will be sold until the end of the year by Vital Impacts, a non-profit organization that financially supports community-based conservation organizations and amplifies the work of photographers who raise awareness of their efforts. . Contributing is a who’s who of nature photography, including Paul Nicklen, Ami Vitale, Jimmy Chin, Chris Burkard, Nick Brandt, Beth Moon, Stephen Wilkes and Goodall herself.

“Each image has a very deep story behind it,” said Vitale, award-winning photographer and co-founder of Vital Impacts. “I worked really hard when I organized this to make sure these photographers are diverse, but the one thing they all share is this commitment to the planet. They use their art to help with conservation.”

“An inspiration for the world”

Goodall’s photograph of herself, sitting with a telescope on a high peak in Gombe, Tanzania, was taken around 1962 using a camera which she attached to a tree branch. “I was pretty proud of myself. I love this photo,” Goodall said in a video message for Vital Impacts. All proceeds from her self-portrait will go to support her Roots & Shoots program, which educates young people and empowers them to take care of the world.

Jane Goodall’s “Self-Portrait” from the early 1960s in Tanzania. Credit: Jane goodall

“It’s breathtaking work,” said Vitale, who only found out that Goodall was a photographer after contacting her to support the program. “She has been such an inspiration to the world. This woman has made such an impact for the betterment of the planet.”

Vital Impacts has tried to make the sale of prints carbon neutral by planting trees for every print made. Sixty percent of the proceeds from the sale will go to four groups involved in wildlife or habitat protection: the Big Life Foundation, the Great Plains Foundation’s Project Ranger, the Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots & Shoots program, and SeaLegacy. The remaining 40% will go to photographers to help them continue their work.

“Our shared liferaft”

Vitale was a conflict photographer for a decade before becoming a wildlife photographer. She hopes people will be “inspired by all this work” and that the photographs will “fall in love” with our “beautiful planet”.

“The planet is our shared liferaft and we’ve dug holes in it, but it’s not too late,” added Vitale. “We can all do small acts that can have profound impacts. That’s kind of why I named it ‘Vital Impacts’, because I think a lot of times we’re all so disconnected and don’t realize how much we are. are interconnected. Everything we do impacts one another and shapes this world. “

One of his photographs in the print sale, “Goodbye Sudan”, shows Sudan, the last male white rhino in the north, comforted by one of his keepers, Joseph Wachira, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in northern Kenya moments before the rhino died in March 2018. Now only two females of this species remain.

"Goodbye Sudan" by Ami Vitale shows the moments before the last male northern white rhino died in 2018.

Ami Vitale’s “Goodbye Sudan” shows the moments before the last male northern white rhino died in 2018. Credit: Friend Vitale

“This is such an important story to me because it made me realize that watching these animals disappear is actually like watching our own disappearance in slow motion, knowing that it is going to have an impact on humanity.” , said Vitale.

“It’s so deeply intertwined. It’s what led me on this path and now I’m really trying to find these stories that show us a way forward, where people learn to coexist and protect wildlife and the habitats we all share. “


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