Re­mem­ber­ing Rhi­nos

Wildlife pho­tog­ra­pher Mar­got Raggett re­calls a mem­o­rable trip to Kenya to raise aware­ness of the plight of the north­ern white rhino

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This se­ries of images was taken on a sa­fari back in De­cem­ber, when I took Bri­tish ac­tor and Born Free Foun­da­tion pa­tron Dan Richard­son to Kenya to see first­hand how some of the funds raised by the photo book Re­mem­ber­ingEle­phants had been spent. I also wanted to use the trip as an op­por­tu­nity to take some images for the pro­mo­tion of the forth­com­ing se­quel to Re­mem­ber­ing Ele­phants,Re­mem­ber­ingRhi­nos [see be­low right]. The whole pur­pose of the trip was to pro­mote both books, or the ‘se­ries’ as they are now be­com­ing.

Re­mem­ber­ingEle­phants was a char­ity book that I pro­duced in 2016, fea­tur­ing ele­phant images do­nated by 65 top wildlife pho­tog­ra­phers. The aim of the book was to raise money to fight poach­ing, with all funds then de­ployed by our part­ner, The Born Free Foun­da­tion. The run of 2500 books sold out in just two months, and so far we’ve man­aged to raise £135,000 through book and print sales, and as­so­ci­ated events.

We had two main stops on this par­tic­u­lar trip. The first was Meru Na­tional Park, where £26,000 of our funds have paid to get 10 anti-poach­ing ve­hi­cles back on the road. There we met with the Kenya Wildlife Ser­vice and the lo­cal team from Born Free, and my role was to cap­ture the meet­ings be­tween Dan and the team.

From there we went on to the Ol Pe­jeta Con­ser­vancy to meet ‘Su­dan’, the last north­ern white rhino in the world, and also to visit the very mov­ing rhino grave­yard there. We wanted to film and take stills there to use in our Kick­starter cam­paign for Re­mem­ber­ingRhi­nos.

In Ol Pe­jeta I had spe­cific images in mind – I par­tic­u­larly wanted to cap­ture the emo­tional re­ac­tion that I knew Dan would have to meet­ing Su­dan. We were in Meru for three days and Ol Pe­jeta for three. I used a Nikon D810, plus a 400mm f/2.8 for the wildlife images and a 2470mm f/2.8 for the peo­ple shots, to en­able me to get in close.

End of the line

The im­age of Dan with Su­dan sums up the trip for me, be­cause of how emo­tional an en­counter it was for both of us. Su­dan is the very last male north­ern white rhino in the world – the end of the line – and that is due to hu­man in­ter­fer­ence (i.e. poach­ing). It sums up ev­ery­thing that I and all of the pho­tog­ra­phers do­nat­ing to our books are fight­ing for. I think the im­age is pow­er­ful in rep­re­sent­ing all of that, and also be­cause you can see how emo­tion­ally af­fected Dan is.

In terms of an­gle, I wanted to get down low and be at face level with both Dan and Su­dan to make it as in­ti­mate a por­trait as I could. Su­dan has a nat­u­ral me­lan­choly, which I also wanted to cap­ture. The im­age will ap­pear in the book, and we’re also us­ing it in PR and on so­cial me­dia, to help pro­mote the book.

It was one of the most mov­ing wildlife en­coun­ters I’ve had. It up­set me, but also spurred me on at the same time, to try to do as much as I can to raise money to pro­tect rhi­nos. Tak­ing images while your mind­set is so de­ter­mined and full of pur­pose is in­cred­i­bly sat­is­fy­ing when you know the im­pact they’ll have.

Su­dan is the very last male north­ern white rhino in the world – the end of the line – and that is due to hu­man in­ter­fer­ence (i.e. poach­ing)

Re­mem­ber­ing Rhi­nos will be a 144-page cof­fee ta­ble book fea­tur­ing rhino images from some of the world’s fore­most wildlife pho­tog­ra­phers, on sale later this year. In ad­di­tion, 10 spots in the book are up for grabs for win­ners of a photo com­pe­ti­tion run­ning from 17 March to 17 April 2017. You can en­ter this at www.re­mem­ber­ingrhi­nos.com/ pho­to­con­test. All pro­ceeds from the book’s sales will go to the Born Free Foun­da­tion (www.born­free.org.uk/ give/re­mem­ber­ing-rhi­nos).

1 CAM­PAIGN FUNDS Mar­got used this im­age as part of her Kick­starter cam­paign to help fund the costs of Re­mem­ber­ing

Rhi­nos – it passed its goal of £20,000 in just three hours 2 in the wild A 400mm lens en­abled Mar­got to get frame-fill­ing shots of rhi­nos in the wild 3 Dan ’s the man Ac­tor Dan Richard­son used the images on so­cial me­dia to spread the word about the Re­mem­ber­ing Rhi­nos cam­paign

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