Hey Kickstarters! With your help, I'll soon be heading to Mozambique to the Mareja Community Reserve in Quirimbas National Park to report on the ongoing struggle to curb elephant poaching in this stunning region of outstanding natural and scientific interest.
For four months, I'll live in the Mareja Reserve, travel with the reserve's rangers, and cover both their successes and failures in the fight against illegal logging, poaching, and ivory hunting. I've been granted full access to the reserve and the rangers via the reserve's co-directors Sophie and Dominik.
eBook and example:
My project will create an interactive iPad eBook – with photos, a park guide, ranger interviews, and video captured both by me and by camera-traps throughout the park. In addition to the eBook, the project also aims to publish a coffee table style photography book – with accompanying ranger stories.
The flexibility of the iPad interface allows me to create new type of journalistic product: part photo essay, part documentary, part guide, and part long-form story. Below is an example of such an eBook that you can download today.
The eBook consists of a compilation of past projects, almost like a portfolio.
In order to create the eBook, I'll be working with software developer Jesse Sielaff, who has agreed to donate his time and energy to the project.
Why does it matter?
Despite the international ban on ivory, the trade is alive and well in the remote corners of Sub-Saharan Africa. The Mareja Community Reserve coordinators, Dominik Beissel and Sophie Scott, both have witnessed the destructive effects of the trade on the animals, the park, and the community.
The loss of a single elephant is a tragedy, but the longterm effect of each death is far more complex than the loss of a sole individual. African elephants, unlike Asian elephants, are unique in that both adult males and females have large desirable tusks. Since elephant herds are held together via matrilineal lines, the loss of one adult female can devastate the structure of the herd, destroying the group's cohesion and ultimately threatening the lives of all the animals in the herd.
Since the 1989 ban, trade has declined, but as of late the illegal poaching of ivory is once again on the rise. Over the last two years professional armed groups have been poaching from the park to supply the Asian market with ivory that is turned into trinkets and used in folk medicine. The project aims to tell the story from the perspective of both the animals and the rangers who risk their lives to preserve the forest and the animals.
What is the Mareja Community Reserve?
Mareja is a community conservation project covering 36,000 hectares that predominantly lies within National Park of Quirimbas. The community center is situated in Cabo Delgado, the north-eastern most province of Mozambique, and as the ‘crow flies’ only 38 km inland from the stunning coastline of Pemba Bay and the Indian Ocean.
Mareja was established some 15 years ago with the express aim of managing and protecting the natural diversity of a highly valued and threatened area of miombo coastal forest, a rare and highly threatened habitat type that makes the area a Global Biodiversity Hotspot. To achieve this aim it actively seeks ways to build a thriving, sustainable community association and reserve for habitats and wildlife.
What does your support help with?
Your support will help fund my my airfare, living expenses for four months in the bush, equipment expenses, and production expenses to begin the process of creating my iPad app and book. To support the Mareja Community Reserve directly (not this Kickstarter project), please visit their support page.
Who am I?
I've been both a researcher and journalist in the wilds of Africa, Asia, and beyond. My specific background is in anthropology, biology, international affairs, conflict resolution, and Sub-Saharan Africa. See a few samples of my photographic work below. You can also see more of my photography from Uganda, here, and Sri Lanka, here.
Have any questions or comments? Ask a question below and I'll do my best to answer. Follow @MarejaElephants for updates about this project.
Special thanks to Dominik and Sophie for their photos of the ivory dealers, the ranger in the video, and the elephant carcasses. Thanks to Jesse for his help with the iPad app. Thanks to Alex and Kim for helping me make the video. And thanks to Cherry Republic for letting me host a meet-and-great at their Cafe.
- (21 days)