Sifelani Tsiko — Innovations Editor
The National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) yesterday hosted the prestigious Benjamin Mkapa African Wildlife Photography Awards exhibition to celebrate the African Wildlife Foundation’s 60th anniversary.
The Mkapa Photo Awards is named to honor one of Africa’s most beloved leaders — Benjamin Mkapa, who served as President of Tanzania from 1995 to 2005.
Mkapa was one of the longest-serving African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) trustees whose passion and commitment towards conservation and African leadership have inspired the conception of this annual global competition focused on bringing Africa to the world and the world to Africa.
“The exhibition is important to Africa in many ways,” said Mangaliso Ndlovu, Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry in a speech that was read on his behalf by permanent secretary Munesu Munodawafa.
“It inspires the African people to embrace and engage with nature. It raises awareness among our people about the importance of conserving nature which we depend on for our livelihoods and well-being.
“It reminds us of the unique natural heritage endowed to us, and the unique relationship we have to our wild animals and wild spaces.
“It depicts some of the challenges that we encounter in our conservation journey such as poaching, human conflict, climate change, illegal immigration trade, and trafficking of wildlife products, among others. In so doing, it provokes thoughts and ideas of potential solutions and policy responses to these conservation challenges.”
The exhibition showcased the works of photographers from Africa and around the world that inspire and advocate for wildlife conservation.
This is the second time that this Wildlife Photography Award is being hosted in Africa in commemoration of the African Wildlife Foundation’s 60th Anniversary.
In line with AWF’s mission to ensure wildlife and wild lands thrive in modern Africa — the global competition aims to celebrate the natural world through the art of photography
The competition’s goal is to engage, involve, and attract photographers at all levels of expertise, encouraging behavioral change towards wildlife conservation.
The 16-category global competition received close to 9 000 entries from 50 countries worldwide, including 10 countries in Africa.
“Our 60 years of experience in Africa has taught us that conservation creativity and resourcefulness,” said AWF Zimbabwe country director Olivia Mufute in a speech requires read on her behalf by Simon Muchatibaya.
“We cannot only rely on the technical expertise of scientists and governments. This is why we created these photography awards in order to engage with new audiences using new platforms.
“We are using the competition to celebrate people who work tirelessly to conserve wildlife, and those whose lives are positively and negatively impacted by the reality of living with ‘wildlife in their backyards.”
There was no winning entry from Zimbabwe.
“The exhibition was initially held in Kenya in 2021 and has now traveled to us in Zimbabwe. I would like to express my gratitude to the African Wildlife Foundation for bringing this exhibition to our backyard,” said Minister Ndlovu.
“Unfortunately, there were no entries from Zimbabwean photographers. I, therefore, would like to encourage Zimbabweans to embrace and partake in future renditions of the Mkapa African Wildlife Photography Awards.”