Photograph by David Chancellor @chancellordavid - dawn, northern Kenya - a while ago now I was asked by a Samburu Moran (warrior) to hold the back of his young brother during his initiation. I had no idea at the time what this meant, or the significance of it to us both, but I did know it was an incredible honour. I met him this week and we talked briefly before he returned to his friends and football. I made him shoes out of cow hide and fitted them to his feet he would wear only these for the month of his metamorphosis into a warrior. I struggled to sleep in my tent not quite knowing what to expect, listening to the songs of warriors and initiates from the surrounding villages. At 02.00 I left the tent and in darkness arrived at his hut which was already surrounded by elders singing songs of courage and support, songs that will help him be strong and carry him into manhood. I’d been told what to expect and what I was required to do, but now when for once I was part of the story, and not an observer, it felt oh so very different. I was to hold his back as the nurse circumcised him. He stood on a cow skin at the door of the home that he’d been brought up in. He was blessed and milk poured on to his shaven head causing him to sit abruptly on the skin. I sat behind him, my legs on either side of his body, I placed my left hand over is forehead and eyes and held his head very tightly to my chest. My right hand I held tightly across his chest, my hand on his heart. He couldn’t see the nurse now sitting in front of him, or the elders surrounding us, but he could hear them, and I could see and hear them both. As the nurse skilfully worked his heart exploded under my hand, and then calmed to a steady beat. We lifted him back into his home and quietly left. He had not made a sound, he was a warrior. I returned as the sun came up, and throughout the day to check on him. I hadn’t expected this, hadn’t expected to see, and more extraordinary feel the birth of a warrior. This is living #withbutterfliesandwarriors#conservation#northernkenya
Photograph by David Chancellor @chancellordavid - a registered nurse circumcises a Samburu initiate, while an elder looks on during ceremonies celebrating his transition into a warrior clan, northern Kenya.
For a ‘warrior’ generation I’ve documented the lives of the Samburu tribe in northern Kenya. They have provided, and continue to provide, a unique glimpse of the future of community conservation globally. They are the interface between human and wildlife populations. How this next generation relates to the wildlife and ecosystems that support both humans and wildlife will affect us all. These initiates will live cheek by jowl with livestock and wildlife for the next 13 years, time enough to effect great change. This image above is key. The Samburu are deeply traditional their culture and society defines them and at no point is this more evident than here at the initiation of new warriors. Many chose to embrace health alongside tradition, rather than risk the lives of the next generation. Here we see a nurse incorporated into the ceremony circumcising a warrior one knife, one man’ might seem obvious to us, but sadly it’s not yet practiced everywhere. Supporting these cultures and traditions is key, giving them access to healthcare and family planning is vital. Allowing them to benefit from the wildlife that they live alongside is our moral responsibility. This is living #withbutterfliesandwarriors#conservation#northernkenya
Photograph by David Chancellor @chancellordavid - in the north of Kenya an initiate from the Samburu tribe prepares for his passage into manhood. He wears the blue beads defining his status, along with vulture quills, and on the very end of the necklace, wing covers from beetles. All signifying his metamorphosis from boy to Moran (warrior) and flight from the home he’s spent his entire life in up until this point. His family will now be other Moran from his clan, who for the next 13 years he will live alongside in the bush. Once initiated, the beads will pass to his mother who will wear them and remember her child who has now fledged the nest. These tribes now source lion skins and vultures quills from Kenya Wildlife Services who distribute them to the Samburu from natural mortalities, thus negating the necessity for them to kill wildlife. This is living #withbutterfliesandwarriors#northernkenya#conservation
Photograph by David Chancellor @chancellordavid - a baby rhino removed from the body of its mother, killed by poachers, is stored in the freezer of a research centre, northern Kenya. Magnificent in life, slaughtered at the hands of man, it’s body will be used to help find cures for diseases both affecting its own species, and those who took its life. #withbutterfliesandwarriors@wellcomephotoprize
Photographs by David Chancellor @chancellordavid - on #worldrangerday I wanted to repost the work of a friend who we all sadly lost a couple of years back. All too often we forget the debt that we owe to rangers globally, not just in Africa. Clint dedicated his entire life to the study of mountain lion. I think he knew this one would be his last, and as it turned out he was correct. The oldest lion in his study group, blind and with few teeth, he seemed reluctant to leave Clint, and Clint said goodbye that day. I lost someone then too. I think we all lost a someone actually, one of the finest humans and a ranger to his bones. .
Repost here: I met Clint last year whilst working on a story in Utah on mountain lion. He sadly passed away today. He made the world a better place. Those who knew him well, those who spent most time with him in the mountains where he was so at home will miss him more, I'm certain of that, as will the predators he dedicated his life to. Clint, I hope you too can be wrapped in your favourite jacket and buried in the mountains exactly as you honoured the lives of all the dogs who rode with you. Too soon sir. Way too soon. Thank you for the rides out. This is for you sir on #worldrangerday in celebration of your life and work with these extraordinary creatures.
In the quiet of the morning when the sky is clear and white
and dawn's soft hush has slipped across the solitude of night,
When the last pale star has fallen and the East’s a rosy glow, streaked with lavenders and orchids with a touch of indigo.
When the colors all are blending, there is no defining each,
And the sun peeps up appearing
Like some plump and pinkish peach,
There is nothing quite so moving, quite so silent, quite so strange as the Lord's most recent wonder— birth of morning on the range.
I can't quite seem to fathom— I can't help wondering why—
I was placed amongst such beauty, all this solitude and sky.
Now, I see you ride before me, as my feet trod earthly sod,
I watch you vanish in the sunrise. Go with God!
Photograph by David Chancellor @chancellordavid - Lisa and Fin, Prince Albert, Karoo, South Africa - from ‘handle like eggs’ courtesy of @francescamaffeogallery showing at the Ragusa Foto Festival 2019. Since it’s start in 2012, the Ragusa Foto Fesitival has presented a unique opportunity to young people in Sicily, and the Mediterranean in general, for the in-depth study of photography and exchange of ideas. The festival opens today 26.07 to Sunday 28.07 presenting exhibitions, talks, screenings, workshops, and portfolio reviews. I’m very privileged to be exhibiting work from ‘handle like eggs’ alongside some very extraordinary artists. Thank you @steve.bisson for your extraordinary curation. Always exceptional sir 👍🏼🙏🏻 @ragusa_fotofestival#handlelikeeggs thanks to @francescamaffeogallery
Photograph by David Chancellor @chancellordavid - gathering at dusk, Samburu, northern Kenya. The more time I spend with these extraordinary people the more I understand how vital it is that we enable local people to manage their traditional lands, and natural resources, allowing them to secure peace, protect the environment, and thus transform their lives. Key to this is the provision of accessible and affordable healthcare and family planning. By integrating this with ecological awareness through education results in: .
- A decline in the numbers of unskilled abortions and infanticides due to unwanted pregnancies
. - Child/infant mortality decreasing children born three to five years apart are 2.5 times more likely to survive than children born two years apart .
- Fewer girls drop out of school on account of unwanted pregnancies .
- Natural resources can be distributed more equitably a smaller family puts less pressure on an already stressed ecosystem
. - Water sources remain more readily available for both human, wildlife, and livestock consumption .
- Degraded environments are given a better chance of recovery .
- Human conflict over pasture reduces - Human-wildlife conflict and poaching reduces.
When women are empowered decision-makers in their families, they spend more resources on their children's nutrition, healthcare and education. Involving men in family planning can lead to changes in the current gender norms. Thus by improving the quality of life for these communities and as a result reducing human/wildlife population pressures, indigenous flora and fauna have a better chance to increase again. Plus, there’s a reduced risk of conflict, and poaching of endangered and vulnerable species including elephant, lion, cheetah, African wild dog, Black rhino, Grevy's zebra, Hirola antelope, and others. #withbutterfliesandwarriors#northernkenya#kenya#conservation