Looking at conservation, and climate change, in a more holistic way.

Conservation is an incredibly complex field. When we think of conservation we often think of animals only. Conservation has become synonymous with iconic species like rhinos, elephants and lions and the threats they are facing such as poaching, the illegal wildlife trade, deforestation, habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict. In many ways the connection between conservation and people is only made when exploring the human impact on wildlife and the natural world. But it is far more complex than this.

Humans and wildlife are inextricably connected and this interconnectedness plays such an important role in the fight to save our planet.

We are currently experiencing one of the most significant extinction events in the Earth’s history – the sixth mass extinction.

Every single species within an ecosystem, no matter how big or small, including humans, play a vital role in maintaining life within their ecosystem. This means that the loss of one species can have a ripple effect, impacting the delicate balance of the ecosystem and in turn, affecting the ability of the other species existing within the ecosystem to survive, which ultimately threatens the survival of humans.

Climate change is one of the biggest threats to all forms of life on Earth and is quickly becoming one the main driving forces behind this extinction event.

As global carbon emissions continue to rise, vulnerable communities are left on the frontlines of climate change. Climatic changes and extreme weather patterns are occurring around the world. The effects of which can be seen globally; from intensified monsoon rains in India, to an increase in the severity and frequency of typhoons in South East Asia, to extreme droughts affecting most of the globe’s continents with the most severe impacts seen in areas like Australia, Somalia and Ethiopia.

A young boy, from a local community in Chiredzi, helps to herd his family’s cattle. Captured while on assignment in the Malilangwe Concession.

No continent will be impacted as severely by climate change as Africa, despite the fact that it has one of the lowest overall rates of carbon emissions.

The continent’s geographical position combined with the existing state of poverty has left Africa at a distinct disadvantage in terms of the impact of climate change, with areas in Western and Southern Africa being marked as “climate change hot-spots”.

On a recent shoot we had the opportunity to visit one of our favorite African countries, Zimbabwe, which is renowned for its incredible landscape and diverse wildlife.

In recent years, the effects of climate change have become more pronounced in this area. The Southern areas of Zimbabwe, which were already quite dry, are now experiencing droughts and flash flooding as a result of climate change. Climate studies also show that the last six years in Zimbabwe have been the warmest in the country’s history. For many people living in this area, the main source of income and food is subsistence farming. Droughts, flash floods, delayed and infrequent wet seasons, and rising temperatures are leading to extremely erratic harvests and as a result many areas are facing impending food shortages.

This presents a unique conservation challenge as well. As food scarcity spreads and water resources become more limited, the competition between wildlife and humans increases, leading to an increase in human-wildlife conflict.

This will also affect the overall quality of life in the area and as resources become scarcer, people will need to find alternate ways to feed and provide for their families. This includes poaching and people working illegally to provide for their families – and essentially – to survive.

Understanding the relationship between humans and nature is crucial to understanding the effects of climate change and how to mitigate the impacts of this global crisis. As much as we depend on nature for life giving resources such as air, water, and food; nature is dependent upon us to ensure that we do not destroy or deplete these resources.

Climate change is a global crisis and as such requires a global change. One of the biggest changes we can make is to reduce our collective impact on the planet.

We also have a greater impact by approaching climate change holistically, rather than treating the effects on humans and the effects on natural world separately.

There are so many things that we can do to reduce our carbon footprint that will help vulnerable areas, like Zimbabwe, that are enduring the consequences of climate change.

Actions as small as recycling, supporting local food suppliers, re-using or purchasing items second-hand, reducing meat and dairy consumption, reducing electricity usage and switching to greener energy forms can greatly reduce your carbon footprint, which will have a massive impact in protecting our planet, ensuring that both humanity and our incredible wildlife have a future.

Climate change is a global crisis and as such requires a global change. One of the biggest changes we can make is to reduce our collective impact on the planet.