I am a 17-year-old wildlife photographer from South Africa and this is my story about how wildlife photography has made me into a conservationist.
From as far back as I can remember, I was always passionate about nature and venturing out with my family. I was fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by wildlife, and my father's photography hobby inspired me to take it up. I got my first ever small digital camera when I was 7 and I remember going out and taking photos of everything. One of my first photos was a horribly blurry shot of a nyala.
Skye Meaker at the World Economic Forum Annual Summit 2019 with Jane Goodall.
Over the years, I have been working on my photography and trying to capture as much as I could. A moment I am not able to forget is when I saw a dead elephant which had just been shot for its tusks whilst crossing a riverbed between South Africa and Botswana. Thankfully, rangers in the area scared the poachers off in time before the ivory was taken. But the elephant was still dead, and a human did this to this magnificent creature. It was on this sighting that I realised I could use photography for so much more than just sharing memories. Photography's power as an art form is universal and can evoke emotion. My photographs could help raise awareness for the rapidly decreasing population of the world’s wildlife.
It's a lot easier said than done, as a young boy who just barely reached double digits, but it is a dream of mine. I want to do this because people will only act on something out of their own will that they care about, and through my photography I hope to make people care about nature and protect our world's wildlife.
It was and still is very hard to get people to feel something when they look at a picture and only a few will really resonate with certain people, but that’s the beauty of photography: if even one person can find that extra something in a picture it can inspire change and action and those are the only two things needed to help save our world's wildlife. It is, in my opinion, the true power of photography.