The subject of my essay are the Wildlife Officers who work to protect the National Parks from poachers on a meager pay. As most photographs in Africa are only of the beautiful animals themselves and I wanted to show the other side of the scene and portray the individuals who risk their lives daily to save Africa’s dwindling wildlife. These officers, men and women, face backlash from the community who want to poach to survive and make a living and see the government as putting the lives of animals above those of their own people. This is an emotionally charged issue in Zambia and Africa that is rarely explored.
Locals here see the wild animals as a threat to their farm crops as elephants will wonder into neighboring farms to raid them as easy sources of food as they continue to encroach into their last remaining habitats. Also, as villages are located in the middle of nowhere, poaching is an source of income from the animal meat which is sought after by wealthy Zambians and the sales of the skins and tusks to the tourists who will illegally buy it cheaply to smuggle home.
The work of the officers is based on military training at a huge cost to the government and is also supported by NGO agencies willing to help the cause. Largely though, the wild animals of Africa are seen as a white mans luxury at the expense of the poor, starving villagers. These officers face this daily at the battle’s forefront often coming to conflict with their own friend and family who are desperate for a chance to upgrade their lifestyles.
By Elise Brazier.