14th Annual Smithsonian.com Photo Contest
Former poacher, Mutinda and his bloodhound Bone
Each year I do my best to volunteer photography services to a non-profit in need of visual communication materials to help in fund raising and spread awareness. I have just returned from a volunteer photography assignment for a foundation named Big Life Foundation working in the Mbirikani Province of Kenya, Africa. The foundation's primary focus is to support 300 wildlife rangers to protect wildlife from poachers and human conflict when animals leave the protection of the Amboseli National park. I was given the privilege of photographing and interviewing some of the bravest African Rangers I have ever met. Picture of: A former poacher, Mutinda and his bloodhound Bone. Mutinda is employed be the Big Life Foundation and serves on the Dog Security Team.
He now works to protect wildlife in Mbirikani, Kenya. Poachers are desperately poor and are attracted to the large amount of money that can be made for horns and ivory on the black market. Working to protect animals gives prior poacher like Mutina, an alternative livelihood. Mutinda said that he did not know what else to do and had little formal education. He had been taught to hunt by his father; starting as a seven year old, learning how to make the poison, the bow and the arrow, and moving up the apprentice ladder from there until the day, aged 17, when he killed his first rhino and became a fully-fledged hunter.
According to the co-founder of the Big Life Foundation, Richard Bonham, “Mutinda has become one of the most reliable and trustworthy game scouts I have met anywhere.” “He has also brought with him a mine of bush knowledge that has rubbed off on the other rangers, and has shown us previously unknown trails used by poachers that have led to successful ambushes.”
© Matilde Simas.
All rights reserved.
||Nov. 23, 2016, 9:43 a.m.
||Canon EOS 5D Mark II