Ilan Godfrey and the Black Mamba Anti–Poaching Unit, South Africa
For most of his life, Ilan Godfrey has had a close and personal relationship with the preservation and protection of South Africa’s natural eco systems, wild habitats and, in particular, man’s coexistence within these spaces.
“Wildlife is a national treasure that needs to be protected for generations to come. With the constant threat to rhino populations and other much smaller and relatively unknown species due to hunting, their numbers are dwindling.
This has resulted in the need for policies and practices to be urgently put into place to protect these endangered animals.
The balance is a delicate one. With extreme poverty on the peripheries of our national parks across the country, one can understand the desperate measures communities are driven to in putting food on the table.
The story needs to begin with people who have dedicated themselves to protecting wildlife but also becoming important role models in their communities.
The Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit is made up of an all-female team of 22 young women, the first of its kind in South Africa. They strive to not only protect our wildlife but also to educate communities on the value of conservation and how it can benefit them and their children well into the future.”
With the support of Lumix, Ilan Godfrey was given the opportunity to spend time with these resilient women and document the incredible work that the Black Mamba rangers are doing, not only on the border fences and in close combat training within the reserve, but also by photographing the positive educational programs that they provide to youth in the communities and villages that dot the peripheries of South Africa's national parks.
About Ilan Godfrey
Ilan Godfrey (b 1980) is a South African photographer whose work explores the diverse social, political, economic and environmental currents that shape contemporary South Africa, giving viewers a broader, and at the same time, a more deeply personal understanding of the country they live in but seldom truly get to grips with. His photographic practice includes extensive research and focuses on issues that expose South Africa’s constantly shifting landscape, documenting the country with an in-depth and intimate conscience. By conveying through long-term, multi-layered projects a process of investigative narration with photography, he reveals varied aspects of societal change across the country.
Ilan’s work has been recognised by various international photography awards and grants and exhibited in prestigious galleries and museums worldwide, including the National Portrait Gallery (London, UK), Iziko South African National Gallery (Cape Town, SA) and most recently Everard Read Gallery (Johannesburg, SA).
His work is regularly published in a broad range of leading international publications including The New Yorker, Le Monde Magazine and the Financial Times Magazine. Aside from his editorial work he collaborates with institutions and organisations worldwide, regularly working on commissions for global brands, including The Open Society Foundation and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
He holds a BA (Hons) degree in Photography from the University of Westminster, London, UK, and was awarded the David Faddy Scholarship to continue his studies, receiving an MA degree in Photojournalism.