Nothing but empty promises…

In October I wrote an article about one of the most famous wildlife photographers, David Yarrow. For years I looked up to him and saw him as a role model. That changed when he started endangering wildlife just to get the best shot. From chasing a giraffe to get the perfect shot, to using a “photography game farm” in Montana that has a record of abusing their animals, to putting one of the last big tusker Elephants in the world in close proximity to a model for a good shot. This could’ve not only endangered the people around but also the Elephants as if they would’ve acted out they would’ve gotten shot. He has been calling himself an active advocate in wildlife conservation yet embodies everything that is not wildlife conservation at all. The first, biggest, and most important rule in wildlife photography is: do not interfere with the wildlife.

David Yarrow apologized for his actions and promised he would change to the better. But he did not hold that promise. Yesterday a picture of him with two of his friends cruised around the Internet. He was lying on the ground with his camera while his friends were feeding Foxes in the Grand Teton National Park. A FED ANIMAL IS A DEAD ANIMAL! Especially foxes can get very dependent on humans if they are fed. They will start going up to humans begging for food and stop actively hunting for themselves. 99% of the time these foxes will die or have to be taken down by Rangers because they have no chance of survival anymore.

It is very sad to hear that David Yarrow continues to be a bad example, and there was nothing behind his promises in October. He needs to be held accountable for his actions. Feeding animals in a National Park is against the law and he is currently being investigated. I hope he will not just get away with a slap on the wrist this time.

Davis Yarrow laying down taking photos while his friends are feeding the foxes rests of their McDonalds meal.

Photo credit: https://www.jhnewsandguide

My Turtle Koa

For Christmas my grandma gave me a turtle. Her name is Koa, and she came with a little bead bracelet and a card to track her movements in the wide ocean. I scanned her code, and my phone displayed a map of where she was released.

Her journey began on the coast of Florida as her rescuers released her into the wild. I could see she had already swam miles up the coast of the United States. She had passed Georgia territory and was nearing North Carolina.

Her little fins took her across half of the country, and halfway back. When I had previously thought about sea creatures, I had always imagined they’d stay in one area that they called home. My experience with Koa, however, has showed me that she is a true explorer of the ocean with no limits or boundaries.

I am grateful to have a connection to a living part of the ocean that I can check in on each day.

Image Credit: Shane Meyers

For Africa

In about three weeks, I will finally return back to my second home: the Masai Mara in Kenya, Africa. This will be my fourth time visiting the Mara and I am more than excited. While I am there, I will work on a big project for school; working with different wildlife conservation organizations as well as Park rangers that wander the park every day in search of poaching traps. The work these rangers do is incredible. They dedicate their whole life to the park and the animals that live there. I and so many other people are incredibly thankful for the work they do. Without them, the parks wouldn’t work the way they do.

But also, tourism is a very big part that makes these parks work. Many people are not happy with tourism in these wild parks and think that tourism should be completely banned. I do agree that sometimes tourism in the parks can be overwhelming, but it is such an incredibly big and necessary part of Africa. Without tourism, rangers would not be able to save the animals from poaching because the park would have no money to pay the rangers anymore. So many people would lose their jobs, and the animals would lose the protection they have from poachers. Tourism is a big and vital part of these parks.

When COVID hit, and traveling was shut down, these parks suffered immensely. The poaching numbers rose into the sky and many lost their jobs. A lot of photographers as well as myself donated money to an organization called “prints for wildlife”. This organization collected prints from hundreds of different small and well-known photographers in order to raise money to send to these parks. They were able to raise $660,200 in just one month. It was absolutely incredible to see so many photographers work together to save what they love most.

pictures by: https://www.printsforwildlife.org

Stuffed Animals

Children grow up having stuffed animals with them everywhere; to sleep, to play with friends, and even to talk to. The stuffed animal is a staple in one’s childhood.

They come in many forms, from elephants to Donald Ducks, as well as different colors, sizes, and densities. Some are stuffed with more fluff than others.

Photo credit: MVP Plush

Children are not the only ones who have stuffed animals, though. Teens and adults have them as well. As a person grows up, they normally bring or take along a friend with them.

Stuffed animals are sacred, they are given names and special stories that are with them forever. They could be used for emotional support and even as an audience for your singing concert. These items of fluff are so valuable and special to some people that they take it everywhere with them, and sometimes they are so loved that they start breaking. They wear down over time because of all the hugs and kisses given to it.

Stuffed animals are prized possessions that everyone has.

Chewy

Going back 10 years ago, a 6-year-old blonde-haired girl went into the rabbit shelter in Santa Barbara (that to this day does not exist) with a determination. As she comes into the outside rabbit room, she laid her eyes on hundreds of bunnies. She walked around the shelter saw some cute ones, but not staying more than a few seconds to thoroughly examine the rabbits until she comes upon an odd pair, two brothers one bright white with blazing red eyes and the other another jet grey. She immediately sat down as began to play with the bunnies. His mother seemed shocked because these two bunnies were not particularly young and not particularly friendly. Not more than half an hour later the little girl left with her new bunnies, chewy and sweetheart. Sweetheart, the white rabbit got his name from immediately coming up to the girl and resting his small head on her equally small foot. While the grey one simultaneously chomping on a carrot, moving his mouth in a circular motion made the child burst into laughter. As the girl began to grow, so did the bunnies. Stages of their life passed by quickly. Skipping ahead two years. The girl left her house with one of the Dork Diaries in hand and walked out to the back yard where the hutch sat. She climbed through the bunny door and sat in the wood and chicken wire cage. The bunnies would hop over to her, lay down, and not move until she got up to leave. Every day, she would read aloud to her bunnies, all the way until she graduated the fifth grade. Going into middle school the bunnies became a second priority, but she still fed them twice a day and would do monthly spa days for the rabbits, which they thoroughly enjoyed, until that next summer came and the white bunny that had glowing red eyes died. She held him in her arms for the last time before her dad took him to the bunny clinic. He had bladder stones. That night the not-so-little girl, her mom, and brother sank onto the living room carpet embracing one another in each other’s sadness. The girl had never truly lost anything to that extent before. But life went on. The girl in the fifth grade, about a year before sweetheart died, had gotten two more bunnies. Chewy lost his bother that day, and at 7 years old decided to keep living. As middle-school continued, the girl grew more distant from the bunnies, she became more interested in drama and “life”. She still took comfort in them and would visit them when she wanted to take comfort in something so innocent and that depended on her. Although she loved all of her animals, she would always hold chewy longer and give him extra carrots. She loved the way he would eat them. Although it did not make her burst into uncontrollable laughter, she smirked and watched until he finished chewing. In eighth grade she lost one of the bunnies and she buried him in her yard. She spent the rest of that day with chewy and the other bunny. Chewy looked happy as ever. His jet grey coat was sprinkled with white. His eyelids dropped slightly but his eyes sparkled the same that they did nine years ago when she got him. Now, skipping ahead to the present day. At 10:13 on November 22d, 2020. The girl’s mom comes in and says that something is wrong with chewy. Immediately the girl, who has turned into a young woman, begins to sob. Running outside she sees chewy laying on his side. Shaking. His head hung low as he tries to stand. She picks up chewy as he lays on his side. Turning him over she sees that he has an infection. Putting him down gently and stroking him in hopes to provide comfort to him as he had done for her. Her mom and her get into the car with Chewy. They decided that the best thing to do is to end his suffering. Knowing that a piece of your childhood is dying is something hard to face. Arriving at the 24-hour clinic, she carries the box to the front door. Her mom fills out paperwork as she sinks into a patio chair looking at Chewy. As a man approaches the door to the clinic, she opens the box and gently strokes chewy’s back and says goodbye for the last time. Standing up. Not being able to stop the tears, she hands the box to the doctor. And at 10:55 pm, Chewy and the girl are separated forever. Turning to her mom embracing each other like they had done so many years before with Sweetheart, they drive home. Sinking into a coma of emptiness, the girl thanks Chewy and wishing him the best where ever he may be going. She hopes that he finds peace and that he is relieved of all pain that he felt.

Thank you Chewy for all that you have done for me. You will be remembered and loved forever.

image found on Pixabay

a moment in the life of a Sockeye Salmon

The Alaskan glaciers melt into the icy rivers as the sockeye salmon swim upstream in hopes of population. Scales sunk with an intense array of pinks and dark reds. The salmon’s dark green heads protrude out of their thick body of flesh. In a small school, three or four fish swim passionately up the shallow stream. The stream on the verge of freezing glistened in the bright sunlight, and the salmon swimming only inches under the reflective water continue on their journey. The smell of pine swept through the chilled air and the misted grass sprouted on the side of the stream. Although life thrived outside the stream, the salmon’s life narrowed down to a single purpose. They needed to keep swimming.

image found on Pinterest

The fast five

Through my photography, I have been able to travel to the most beautiful places on this planet. But one definitely stands out to me like no other. The Masai Mara in Kenya, Africa. A heaven for photographers. It is one of the best places on earth to see big cats. I have traveled there three times already, and I fall in love over and over again. Last summer I was able to observe one of nature’s seven wonders, the big migration of the wildebeest that come over from the Serengeti to find fresh grass in the Masai Mara.

Many big cats use this chance to hunt wildebeest that got injured during the crossing. There is especially one group of wild cats that are known to almost all photographers. The fast five. The fast five are a coalition of five male cheetahs. Two brothers got together with a set of three brothers and formed a coalition to hunt and live together. Nowhere else on earth can this be observed.

I have had the privilege of observing these magnificent cats hunt, and it is truly incredible. Each one of them has a special dedicated role and their hunting is extremely coordinated, I have never seen anything like it in my life. They know that they have a higher survival rate if they work together. They hunt every day and are more successful than any other group out there. I am excited to see them again on my next trip to the Masai Mara, and I hope that many others get the privilege to see these beautiful cats.

It is truly incredible what nature has up its sleeves sometimes.

picture by author

Dreams

Everyone has dreams of what they want their future to look like. I am currently a senior in high school and I am getting ready for college. My dream school is Montana State University in Bozeman. It is just 1 1/2 hours away from Yellowstone and just 2 hours away from Grand Teton Nationalpark which is a dream place for me and my photography. But before I go to college I will take a Gap year. I had always planned to take a gap year after high school to just have one year of not studying and doing what I want.

My Gap Year will revolve all around my photography. I am am planning to travel to my favorite place in the world, the Masai Mara in Africa for 2 months. I will work with rangers to help prevent poaching as well as spreading the word of wildlife conservation. On the other hand I will work with vets to learn more about the wildlife in Africa. I am also planning to travel to a place that I always wanted to go, Uganda in Africa. I am planning to spend about 4 weeks there to spend time with one of the most incredible species out there. The silver back gorillas.

I have always been fascinated with gorillas. The way they communicate with each other is incredible. I am hoping to further my understanding of these incredible animals and also help protect them as they are on the verge of extinction.

I am excited for my Gap year, as I will do what I love most. I am hoping to have an impact with my photography and spread the word of wildlife conservation further around the globe.

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Relax

I am currently starting to get ready for my College applications. It is a lot of stress and, on top of it, loads and loads of homework. I always try to find something that can distract me. I tend to try and get everything done in one sitting but I have to remind myself that my body needs a break sometimes. I have started to go on runs to get my mind free and it works! But often the day has just been too tiring to go on a run on top of that so I go and do something creative such as drawing, editing photos, or playing the guitar!

But I must say there is one thing that nothing else can come close to that makes me happy and relaxes me. And that is just going to the barn and spending time with the horses. It’s not even the riding part, mostly I just sit down in a stall with a horse and just watch them. Two years ago a very close friend of mine graduated. She learned riding at the school and bonded with one horse especially. The horse’s name is Simba. He has such a character and is an incredibly fun horse to ride. When my friend graduated she asked me to take care of him for her, and so I did. I started forcing a bond with him. Now every time I see him I am filled with happiness and joy.

I have always had stronger binds with animals than I had with people. I guess part of it is that animals don’t talk. They just sit there and do their thing. They don’t judge you and they don’t talk about you behind your back. They have their own characters and they do what they want.

Simba has taught me a lot throughout high school and he has helped me to find time to relax and just be. He can be a brat sometimes but he has taught me to never give up even if you have a bad day. Just push through it, and it will eventually get better.

photo by author

An uproar in wildlife conservation

For many years I have been an active advocate and participant in wildlife conservation. With my photography, I am hoping to reach people and show them the beauty and diversity we have on our planet and show how important it is to keep it alive. There are so many incredible photographers out there that do just that, and who use their voice to stand up for animals. I have many role-models that I look up to, but recently there has been an uproar for one of them.

David Yarrow is one of the most famous photographers and one of the seemingly biggest advocates for wildlife conservation. But in reality, he embodies everything that is NOT conservation. From chasing a giraffe to get a perfect shot, to using wolves and bears that are enslaved, to game farms with a record of abuse, there is one image that has caused the public to hold their breath. A picture in which a model is standing just 15 feet away from 3 elephants.

Now many will probably wonder why that is so bad. If anything would have happened during the shooting, say if one of the elephants started to feel stressed or threatened, they could have firstly endangered the life of the model, but also their lives. If one of the elephants would have attempted to charge, he would have paid for it with his life and would have probably gotten shot. One of the three elephants is named Craig, one of Africa’s last big tuskers.

Now I wonder, is it really worth it to risk a animals life just to get a perfect shot. And most importantly, can you call yourself a wildlife conservationist while actually exploiting animals. I don’t think so.

Yarrow has finally said something and apologized for his actions. It is not much but it is a first step in making things right.

picture credit to David Yarrow