HomeLife & StylePhoto exhibition celebrates African wildlife

Photo exhibition celebrates African wildlife

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BY NYANZOMBE NYAMPENZA
STEPPING inside the recently opened Benjamin Mkapa African WildLife Photography Awards exhibition at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Harare is like taking a walk into the wilderness.

On a global tour which started in Nairobi, the immersive exhibition brings the continent’s vibrant and diverse wildlife to people in an extraordinarily vivid and intimate way.

Overwhelming proximity achieved though modern photography equipment insert the viewer into fantastic scenes where animals hunt, play and fight.

The rich diversity of Africa’s wildlife is reflected through submissions that range from pangolin, to cheetah and vulture.

Up close colours, textures and unique features that define each species open a deeper appreciation of the exquisite beauty in nature.

A broad range of approaches was encouraged by the extensive scope of the call for entries for the various categories such as co-existence and conflict, African wildlife at risk, fragile wilderness, Africa’s backyard wildlife and African in motion.

Taking advantage of the multiplicity of views, curator Charlotte Islana presents a resounding show that leaves a lasting impression.

Photographs on display reveal dramatic and subtle stories told through inventive framing and clever composition.

The mystical, macabre, tender and harsh circumstances of life in the wilderness are exposed through portraits, interspecies interactions and tensions between prey and predator amid human presence.

It is impossible to ignore how some images mirror human existence and struggle for survival in the metropolis.

Beyond allusion to humanity’s existential crisis, some images under the Fragile Wilderness category inspire devine contemplation.

The competition has strict ethical rules that disallow the use of wide-angle and macro lens to photograph nesting and denning animals, using flash at night, and luring of animals with bait.

The largest number of shortlisted entries came from the US followed by South Africa and Kenya, with Italy, UK and Hong Kong making it into the top five.

Although it is common for international photography competitions to charge an entry fee, in this case it contributes to a noticeable exclusion of indigenous photographers of African descent.

Kenya was the most popular location where the photographs were taken, followed by Tanzania with half the number compared to the former.

South Africa and Botswana are close to Tanzania, but Namibia rounds up the top five with half the number of submissions compared to each country in the bottom three.

The winning entry for the grand prize was titled Utopia and was taken in the Simien Mountains National Park in Ethiopia.

The image is of a Gelada baboon, a species only found in the Ethiopian highlands.

Also called the bleeding-heart monkey, the subject was photographed with its baby in their verdant natural habitat with a dizzying gorge and a waterfall in the
background.

The title, which rhymes with the geographical location of Ethiopia, gives a nod to efforts that seek to protect animals by preserving their natural habitat.

Hosted by African WildLife Foundation, the Benjamin Mkapa African Wild Life Awards is in honour of former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa who died in
2020.

The African Wildlife Foundation is the primary advocate for the protection of wildlife and wild lands as an essential part of a modern and prosperous Africa.

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