Pieter Bas Bouwman
Human & Wildlife Conflict
[ EPF 2019 FINALIST ]
During my stay in Kenya I witnessed the difficulty of life in various ways that different groups of people and animals daily face. Often people pity the wildlife such as Elephants, Hyenas, Monkeys and Lions for being harmed or killed by locals. However, people forget that Elephants are a large threat to locals. They often see their farms destroyed and crops eaten. As a consequence, families are ripped apart and forced to work in cities. For many of these farmers, taking away the threat is a common solution, meaning wildlife will be harmed or killed. This killing can also be part of tradition. For the Kamba Tribe this is the case. For ages they hunt on bushmeat to provide for their families and honor their tradition. However, due to Western pressure hunting bushmeat is now by law illegal. As a result, you take away long-standing traditions and deny specific cultures from existing. This is perfectly exemplified in America with the Indians, the traditions vanished because of the pressure of western civilization. The same thing will happen in Kenya. You can already see the Maasai slowly disappearing. There are still Kamba Tribesmen hunting on wildlife and on the other side you find the anti-poaching units that are just like the tribes providing for their families and improving their situation. Unfortunately, the improvement of both their situations is conflicting since they both perceive wildlife differently.
By spending time in Kenya I understand the actions of both the tribesmen and the anti-poaching units. I am not approving these actions, but as an outsider I feel their burden which is partly a result of Western paternalism. The tribesmen haven’t changed their attitude towards wildlife whilst the West has caused damage over the years and tries to resolve that now. The anti-poaching units have the luxury to worry for elements in life which are secondary in nature to survival. This make the perspectives and perceptions completely different and hard to unify.
A central theme often explored in Pieter Bas his photos is the balance and imbalance between humans and nature. It often appears in his photographs of animals, destroyed or decayed surroundings and any other traces of human intervention. This strongly relates to the transience and fleeting character of things. More specifically, it grasps a tiny piece of the most fundamental aspects of life, involving the passage of time, of nature and the world as a whole, that is slowly disappearing due to human intervention. Contrasts become more obvious under tense circumstances. By showing the effects on a micro level, the wider imprint feels more present. The transience and fleeting characters are visually translated by a blurry suggestion of movements and dynamics. Confronted with these impressions often goes together with a certain nostalgic and melancholic feeling about everything that’s lost, and for everything that will be lost… His images are slowly and carefully composed. Compositions are attentively considered, using colors and shapes while trusting basic intuition. Although, impressions appear to be seemingly perfect, they never fully are. To Pieter Bas, beauty is to be found in the imperfection of life.
The Emerging Photographer Fund is supported by generous donors to the Magnum Foundation