The concept of Photography4life initially formed on a blistering sunny day, whilst I crouched low in volcanic dust, watching elephants saunter pass me towards a watering hole. Towering above, they filled my vision and the world seemed to stop. My Ranger companion and I breathed lightly as the giants walked passed, blocking the rays of the sun with their massive frames.
Suddenly, I understood the importance of sharing such moments with the outside world, in addition to providing coverage of the brave men & women rangers who protect these magnificent animals.
This ‘window’ into their extraordinary lives and aspirations provides a platform on which the rangers can communicate. I’ve gained vast insight into the challenges and conditions they face on a daily basis and, in doing so hope to heighten global awareness for these wildlife rangers.
As we lay crouched low to the ground, the elephants and prehistoric landscape surrounded us.
It reflected the delicate balance of nature’s eco-system that has survived for millions of years - and brought home its fragility in the hands of modern man.
Yet, the rangers signify hope and tolerance by local communities towards wildlife and nature conservation.
Whilst pinned to the ground breathing in dust, we chuckled softly. The moment triggered my epiphany and defined the very core of Photography4life’s purpose – to reflect the rangers’ real-life stories and the challenges faced as guardians of wildlife.
Their voices collectively presented to the outside world.
Not least, Photography4life would provide close up and exhilarating reporting on stunningly beautiful Africa and its extraordinary flora and fauna - intertwined with true stories rarely heard.
Their voices collectively presented to the outside world.
This extraordinary opportunity would never have occurred, had Damian Bell (of Honeyguide and BigLife Foundation, Tanzania) not asked me to photograph their conservation efforts within the Amboseli/Kilimanjaro eco-system.
Fluency in Kiswahili, plus skills in wildlife safari guiding and photo-journalism provided me with a footing.
With Damian’s encouragement, I spent weeks at a time out on manoeuvres with the rangers completing photographic assignments. I was put through my paces and luckily, I passed!
Separate to the men, I camped close by and downloaded endless photographs whilst continually writing. The crackle and light of my camp fire kept me company, as did genet cats, giraffe and elephant that sneaked up inquisitively. Often the rangers would join me round the fire, or hurriedly appear to collect me to join important, unscheduled operations.
They became my brothers and a lasting bond has formed.
It can easily sound sentimental, but the work of a ranger is far from that. The challenges far outweigh the rewards.
Here stands Photography4life's commitment to help these men and women, in a durable and empowering way.
To date assignments have extensively covered Tanzania and Kenya, in East Africa. Future projects will also include Uganda, Ethiopia, and the Congo regions in central Africa.
Due to Botswana’s perspective on wildlife conservation and community development, we are extending south to include this inspiring nation.
Who knows where we will go from here.
Photography4life is not only about honouring men and women Rangers. Now that our platform has grown since its launch 6 years ago, emphasis is on:
• Media coverage
• Rangers and conservation
• Education (sourcing sponsorship of courses specifically for Rangers, in Communication, English and Specialised courses, as well as Agriculture/Conservation training regarding Farming/Wildlife Conflict, and increase productivity and environmental impact)
• Women Empowerment
• Community Development (through self-sufficient projects, initiatives and health)
• Environment issues
• Water Points
A delicate balance of contributing factors that collectively win.
Whilst Photography4life first started with a small patch of Africa with Rangers its now taken a on ‘Bigger Picture’, which essentially involves each and every one of us.
We bring together unique, dynamic people, who want to share their vast knowledge, compassion and skills in Africa to:
• Support for wildlife rangers, their families and associated communities
• Collaboration between team members to enhance and raise funds for associated projects
• Increase awareness for the advancement of legitimate projects
• Share knowledge and collaterally support projects launched under our umbrella
• Maintain a continuous and solid 'platform’ of information, awareness and motivation
Our Team Members have specific skill-sets and goals, including Education, Responsible Journalism, Project Operations, Women Empowerment, Water, and Environmental Responsibilities.
Emphasis is largely on assisting organizations that support Community Development alongside Conservation and Environmental efforts. We earnestly believe that the survival of Africa's remaining and fragile natural heritage, is directly linked to increasing sustainable opportunities for local communities sharing their neighbourhoods with wildlife.
We compliment the vital work organisations are doing on the ground.
With Photography4life there are also many exciting opportunities for visitors to experience real Africa. Ping us for more information.
In Addition, details on how you can donate, both personally and through your business/company (as tax deductible contributions) are available directly. Coming up soon will be a extraordinary photographs in the form of Diaries and Calendars for 2018 - being sold to cover operational costs. We survive on the generous support of the public.
Colleen and Photography4life has been very generous with her time and photographic skills. Colleen took on a number of assignments for both Honeyguide Organization and Big Life Foundation. She took some great photos of all the Big Life rangers field operations in Tanzania, which involved Coll going and living with the rangers for specific periods at a time, travelling from Ranger Post to Ranger Post, going on night patrols, foot patrols and everything else the rangers did on duty. Colleen built up a great rapport and trust with the rangers and delivered some stunning photographs.
The Enduimet WMA (Wildlife Management Area) committee asked Colleen for help to build their official website, and partnering with Honeyguide, Colleen developed a stunning website that showed the beauty of the community, wildlife and landscape. Colleen is a very dedicated conservationist and a natural in the field. We cannot thank her enough for what she did for the communities and their conservation efforts.
Damian Bell - Executive Director, Honeyguide Organization
We love to hear from people across the world, who appreciate the work of Wildlife Rangers, or have an interest in Africa, with further incentives to help individuals and communities who support their natural heritage - across East Africa.
Uk base - Peebles, Scotland.
Tanzania - Arusha.
Kenya - Nairobi.
Contact details available on request.