The Horror of Elephant Poaching in Kenya: Shocking Photos by Chris Jordan


Photo: prixpictet Severed trunk of bull elephant, Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy

Chris Jordan's work may be familiar to TreeHuggers because he has been photographing environmental issues for years. He has depicted the ravages of the oceans, and many photos showing the horrors of mass-consumerism in the world.

Now he has turned his talents to Africa. Winning the esteemed photography prize, the Prix Pictet Commission last year, he has gone to Northern Kenya to work with the people and photograph their life and the issues that they are facing in a stunning series of pictures.


Photo: prixpictet Bull elephant killed for his tusks, Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy

Winners of the Commission prize are sent to a country to examine the issues. He visited Northern Kenya and worked with the Tusk Trust in Africa. The Trust was formed in 1990 to stop poaching of animals and alleviate poverty through sustainable development.


Photo: prixpictet Samburu Elder, Lemasulani Letarekeri, after performing healing ritual with skull of elephant killed by poachers, Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy

Fittingly, the name of his series is Ushirikiano, Swahili for "collaboration." Chris Jordan was clearly moved and affected by his time there:

"The Prix Pictet Commission prize took me on a thousand-mile behind-the-scenes photo documentary safari in Kenya's northern rangelands. There I encountered a confederation of NGO's, working closely with local indigenous tribes to create a sustainable way of life based on principles of environmental stewardship, wildlife conservation, and peace. Throughout our two week expedition across a stunningly wild landscape, I found myself constantly humbled by the grace, dignity and spirit of the ancient tribal people I had the privilege of encountering there. I hope my photographs convey a small fragment of the complex and inspiring story of Ushirikiano that is emerging in this remote part of Africa".


Photo: prixpictet Borana child, Gotu Village, Nakuprat-Gotu Community Conservancy

He was particularly moved by the impact of elephant poaching. He wrote:

"The phenomenon of elephant poaching strikes me as profoundly symbolic. As the largest animal to walk the earth, the elephant is one of our planet's most sentient beings, with a brain about four times the size of ours, equal or greater in intelligence to dolphins and higher order primates. Elephants are one of the few animals to grieve their dead in community. In my view elephants should be revered and preserved as sacred planetary treasures. Hopefully these photos can be viewed as a visual reminder of the trail of destruction we leave and the damage we do to our own spirits when we forget our relationship with nature and our connection with the higher purposes of our life and our own human dignity."

More on Chris Jordan and Prix Pictet
American Photographers Win the Prix Pictet 2011
Prix Pictet , Sustainable Photography Prize, Short List
Chris Jordan Puts Consumer Waste In Perspective

Tags: Artists | Arts | Developing Nations | Documentaries | Exhibits | Photography