Two years ago, Sudan, the last male northern white rhino died, surrounded by the people who loved and protected him. If there is meaning in his passing, it’s that all hope is not lost. Planet Earth is the only home we have and without rhinos and elephants and other wildlife, we suffer much more than loss of ecosystem health. We suffer a loss of imagination, a loss of wonder, a loss of beautiful possibilities. Saving nature is really about saving ourselves.
Ol Pejeta needs our help now more than ever. At a time when unprecedented events have turned our world upside down, it is easy to turn inward and focus on the challenges that Covid 19 poses in our own lives and to our immediate communities. We each must do our part to protect those who are vulnerable and at the same time, we can ensure that the causes we care so deeply about have the support they desperately need.
We have launched a new campaign to help and you could win a trip to this incredible place! With a $10 donation, you will have a chance to win a trip to spend time with the last two northern white rhinos and learn about the incredible efforts to save the species from extinction. You will meet the committed keepers who spend their lives protecting these gentle, ancient creatures and I’ll give you a photography workshop.
While we social distance, let’s dream of a better future. The trip will be scheduled for when it’s safe to travel. Please share even if you can’t make a donation. Everything you can do is appreciated in these times.
Enter at omaze.com/safari
Thank you so much!
Ami Vitale is one of 20 honorees on Afar Magazine’s inaugural Women to Watch in 2020.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, and using the Society of Woman Geographers as inspiration, Afar Magazine has reinvented the all-female travel society for the year 2020.
“Singularly and together,” they say, “these travelers are our guides to exploring the world in a better way. They are pushing boundaries—be they physical, cultural, or mental—and they are women we would entrust to lead us around the world and show us how to experience it in new and different ways. They are women, as they say, who have done things.”
On Ami, Afar says, “Ami Vitale knew from a young age that a camera doesn’t distance you from the subject—it brings you closer. Her passion for human connection has carried her to more than 100 countries…Vitale recognizes that stories aren’t just about people—they’re about our relationship to the natural world.”
Read the whole article and learn about all the inspiring work on it in Afar Magazine.
In celebration of World Wildlife Day on March 3, The TreadRight Foundation named Ami Vitale its first ever Wildlife Ambassador.
TreadRight urges each and every traveler to take their pledge to make travel matter, for our planet, our people and wildlife by refusing single use plastics and, when not possible, to recycle them. To offset one’s carbon footprint. To promise to honor the people we meet, to respect their homes in the spirit of diversity and inclusion. To buy locally and pay fair prices. To experience wildlife only in nature, not riding animals that should not be ridden and not support any kind of animal cruelty. Together, we can tread right.
Said Ami, “We are at a crossroads right now and it is vital to think about the impact our actions will have on Earth.”
Ami is honored to be joining in this mission and hopes you will take this pledge along with her.
In one of her first works with the foundation, Ami will travel with the TreadRight team to document wildlife conservation work at Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve in South Africa and at the Nigeria Safari Lodge in the Okavando Delta in Botswana reports Travel Weekly.
The TreadRight Foundation is the non-profit arm of The Travel Corporation. Read the full announcement at Treadright.org
I am honored that my photograph of Joseph Wachira saying goodbye to Sudan was chosen as the National Geographic best photo of the decade by the people of Instagram. I will never forget what it felt like to witness what I believed to be the end of a species. Yet, in a beautiful twist of fate, this image – an image documenting extinction – is the beginning of something powerful, something hopeful.
The coming decades will not be easy, but I believe we are making a real difference. You are my hope for a future that includes rhinos and other endangered species.
This image is currently available for sale. I am donating 100% of the profits directly to the keepers, like Joseph, at Ol Pejeta so that they can continue on their mission of protecting and fighting for some of the world’s most vulnerable creatures.
Purchase the signed print here.
On Mar. 16, 2019 Ami delivered the talk “Falling in Love With a Unicorn” to a sold out crowd at TEDxBergamo. In it, she discusses the foundations of her work and how falling in love with a rhino named Sudan changed the course of her life and the lives of many others. Watch the whole inspiring talk at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00bunXTIKJw
When the National Geographic Instagram account, @natgeo, recently reached the milestone of 100 million followers, they celebrated by sharing albums of their most popular images from the account. Three of Ami Vitale’s photographs were included in these selections, which show the imagery that resonated most deeply with audiences worldwide.
Out of 20,000 photos that have been posted on their Instagram account, the photo of Sudan being comforted by his long time keeper Joseph elicited more reactions than all but one photo ever posted on their feed. The moment resonated across the globe and served as a powerful wake up call to tens of millions of people.
You can see all the galleries here.
The National Geographic Storytellers Summit is a multi-day celebration of story, featuring the photographers, filmmakers, journalists, and data visualizers who witness the major events of our time, illuminate critical issues, and inspire action.
Photographer and National Geographic Explorer Ami Vitale delivered the talk, “How to Photograph Hope.” Ami has covered conflict, violence, and heartbreak—like photographing the last Northern white rhino during his dying moments—but she’s also made it her mission to find and capture stories of hope.
Ami Vitale will be leading a 9-day photographic safari through two of Botswana’s most wildlife rich regions. The safari will take place Oct. 9-Oct. 17.
This safari will travel through Botswana’s Chobe National Park and the remarkable Okavango Delta, where guests can make use of Ami’s extensive knowledge as well as specially adapted safari vehicles and on-site photo labs, an experience which provides budding wildlife photographers with everything they need to craft the perfect shot.
Come join in! View the itinerary and learn more at Natural World Safaris.
At Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in northern Kenya, the first-ever community-owned and run sanctuary in all of Africa, rescued orphaned elephants are looked after by local keepers from the Samburu community. They are lovingly rehabilitated and raised with the ultimate goal to reintroduce them back into the wild. The sanctuary isn’t just about saving elephants; it’s about breaking down stereo-types and redefining wildlife management. When people realize that they can benefit from healthy elephant populations, they’re proud to take care of wildlife.
Reteti is also empowering young Samburu women to be the first-ever women elephant keepers in all of Africa. At first, the community didn’t think there was a place for women in the workplace. Now, the success of these women elephant keepers is unlocking new possibilities, setting a powerful example for young girls hoping to pursue their dreams. It’s also changing how the community relates to elephants. Schoolchildren who have never seen an elephant before or who were afraid of elephants visit Reteti and experience these elephants up close, and they realize they can grow up to be a veterinarian or an elephant keeper.
In the past the local people weren’t much interested in trying to save elephants. A rescued calf had to be transported to Kenya’s only orphanage, some 240 miles away, near Nairobi. If successfully rehabilitated, the youngster would have to be released into Tsavo National Park, with no hope of re-unification with its original herd way to the north. But now, elephant orphans can be returned to their home ground, where they’ll have a good chance of reconnecting with their relatives.
What’s happening there, without fanfare, is nothing less than the beginnings of a transformation in the way the Samburu people relate to wild animals they have long feared. This oasis where orphans grow up, learning to be wild so that one day they can rejoin their herds, is as much about the people as it is about elephants.
Reteti operates in partnership with Conservation International who provide critical operational support and work to scale the Reteti community-centered model to create lasting impacts worldwide.
Watch the behind the scenes film on Ami Vitale’s work with Reteti Elephant Sanctuary here.
“It’s one thing to know the planet is in crisis. It’s another to see what that looks like.”
I am proud to be a member of WeTransfer’s Union of Concerned Photographers along with Lucy Pike, Mandy Barker, Frans Lanting, Luca Locatelli, & Joel Redman. We are a group of photographers dedicated to using the power of imagery to underline the urgency of environmental concerns. Learn more and get involved at we.tl/UCP
You can read my story on WeTransfer’s Union of Concerned Photographers website here.