HELPHOTO RETROSPECTIVE - Winner Open Call Helsinki Photo Festival 2020. Theme: Trust.
Ami Vitale (@amivitale), United States. “The Guardian Warriors”. Exhibited in Kansallismuseo.
Ami Vitale began The Guardian Warriors project ten years ago, after she heard about a plan to airlift four of the world’s last northern white rhinos from a zoo in the Czech Republic to Kenya. It was a desperate, last-ditch effort to save a species. At the time, there were only eight of these rhinos left, all living in captivity. When the artist saw this gentle, hulking creature in the Czech snow, surrounded by smokestacks and humanity, it seemed so unfair. It looked ancient, part of a species that has lived on this planet for millions of years, yet could not survive humanity. On March 19, 2018, Ami made the heartbreaking journey back to Kenya to say goodbye to Sudan, the world's LAST male northern white rhino alive on the planet. This image is of the final moment when Joseph Wachira, one of Sudan's dedicated keepers, went to give him one more rub behind his ear before he died.
We are witnessing extinction right now, on our watch. Poaching is not slowing down. If the current trajectory of killing continues, it’s entirely possible that rhinos will be functionally extinct in our lifetime. Without rhinos and elephants and other wildlife we suffer more than loss of ecosystem health. We suffer a loss of imagination, a loss of wonder, a loss of beautiful possibilities. When we see ourselves as part of nature, we understand that saving nature is really about saving ourselves. Sudan taught Ami that. These are a series of images about the relationships and bonds between humans and endangered species. They understand how important TRUST is for a healthy planet and not just with one another, but with the creatures we coexist with. We must begin to see our world as part of the natural world; the natural world as part of our world. Our fates are linked. Losing one part of nature, is a loss for all of nature.
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