Across Africa, growing populations and deepening poverty have intensified the battle between man and animals for the same land and environmental resources. Increasingly, animals are pushed into smaller pockets of wilderness, their migration routes closed off and their water supplies dammed and diverted elsewhere for other purposes such as crop irrigation.
Illegal hunting and poaching have decimated their numbers. At the same time, rural farmers have learned to mistrust wildlife, killing those animals which they see as invading their land. If wildlife conservation is to succeed at all, it is imperative to find a way for man and animal to coexist in harmony, sustainably. Its also crucially important that any income generated from the wildlife is shared with the communities who may face financial hardship as a result of the destruction of crops by elephant, death of livestock by leopard and lion, and family members killed or maimed by all three.
Communities must be given the options for incentives to conserve, rather than poach. We are, after all, asking pastoralist communities who have not historically benefited from the wildlife that they live alongside, to live in harmony with it, rather than eradicate it in favour of livestock because this is what supports their survival – not the wildlife.
David Chancellor is a multi-award-winning documentary photographer, his work brings him across the world, from the tribal lands of Kenya to the sombre mountains of Scotland. His interests are mapping that jagged and bloody line where Man and Beast meet. He has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions, exhibited in major galleries and museums, and published worldwide. Recognized by World Press Photo, the Taylor Wessing National Portrait Prize and Pictures of the Year International, David published the monograph ‘Hunters’ in 2012. His work continues to examine mankind’s commodification of wildlife.
Love and loss, life and death are at the heart of Chancellor’s work, whether looking at the elephant poaching crisis in Africa, documenting a mountain lion hunt in Utah, or photographing his wife and son in a hotel room in Zurich – the viewer is always confronted with what Myles Little (TIME) so eloquently describes as ‘loss and love intertwined forever. His work constantly journeys between what is his private life, and public work. Known widely for his projects dedicated to wildlife conservation, his personal work offers a stark antidote to his documentary practice but allows them to exist in parallel, as this is how they exist for Chancellor; family permeates the landscape of wild animals, whilst the ‘lingering scent and memory of hunts’ punctuate the domesticity of home.
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