A Maasai Mara Wildlife Photography Exhibition in London

We are excited to help announce the launch of ‘Individuals’, a solo wildlife photography exhibition of work from the Maasai Mara in Kenya by one of our photographers Matthew Williams-Ellis.

Dates: Thursday 22 June to Sunday 2 July 2023

Time: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

Location: 19 Kensington Park Road, London, W11 2EU

Entry: Free, but if you would like to register your interest you can do so.


“Nomad”

Edwin an African Elephant, Maasai Mara, Kenya, Africa
Edwin is truly the definition of a gentle giant. Despite his impressive size, and perhaps because of it, he exudes subtle confidence and complete disregard for me and the vehicle I am in. He strolls over inquisitively, towering above me as I lie across the front seats of an open-sided and open-top Suzuki. He appears almost proud of his stature, and looks me directly in the eyes as if to say in the most calm way possible, “I’ve got my eyes on you”.

ABOUT ‘INDIVIDUALS’

Meet the individuals of the Maasai Mara.

Each character has their own personal story, unique history, and uncertain future. They have distinctive personalities, close bonds, feared enemies, and emotions as strong as your own.

By highlighting these personal stories, and showing animals to be emotional individuals rather than just anonymous statistics in a wider population, Matthew hopes to promote a desire to protect and care for this precious wildlife. He feels that being understanding and compassionate of the challenges faced by an individual will feel even more tangible and easy to relate to than when thinking of a population as a whole.

This collection of photographs was captured while Matthew spent a month in Mara North Conservancy in Kenya in 2022. Spending time following specific individuals every day, and seeing their unique characteristics, personalities, behavioural patterns, and displays of emotion became increasingly apparent. It isn’t just the markings that differentiate one lion from the next for example, it is the way an individual behaves and how he or she interacts with other lions in the pride.

In one such display of emotion in the days after Lola (one of the Marsh Pride lionesses) loses one of her litter of two cubs, there is a noticeable closeness among the Marsh Pride, spending more time than usual rubbing heads and keeping the final remaining cub close.

Similarly, Mara North is not just home to ‘cheetah’. It is home to “Kweli”, first time mother to three 11 month old cubs. She is a strong, attentive and determined individual, singularly focused on finding the next meal for her hungry cubs and preparing them for their departure from her in the not too distant future.

Through these photos and stories, he hopes to give you a sense of the individual personalities of the animals I spent time with; the Marsh Pride’s playfulness and affectionate side, Edwin’s calm and trusting nature, and Kweli’s grit. Wherever possible, he uses a shorter lens to create a much more intimate feel to the photographs, putting you right next to the subject. Seeking unique, inimitable moments, beautiful light, and above all a photograph that reveals an aspect of the subject’s character.

10% of all proceeds will be going to Mara Predator Conservation Programme (MPCP) and Conservancy Guardians to support the amazing work that they do in the Mara. Their vital research has proven that human activities have a significant impact on wildlife, illustrated perfectly by the finding that cheetahs raise fewer cubs on average inside the Maasai Mara National Reserve compared to outside of it. This is not how it should be. We have a duty to travel responsibly, and support efforts to conserve and manage wildlife in the great wilderness that is the Maasai Mara Ecosystem.


“Half Tail”

Half Tail a Lion in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, Africa
Half Tail basking in the early morning sun. Half Tail is one of the most famous lions in the Maasai Mara Ecosystem. After losing his coalition partner, Logol, he is now the sole leader of the Marsh Pride which makes it a very uncertain time for him as he tries to maintain control of the Marsh Pride. Prior to losing Logol he would spend a lot of time a long way from the pride, but in recent days he has been spending a lot more time closer to home so he can keep an eye on any encroaching males. He has a reputation for being very grumpy, and very powerful. When a lion like that stares directly at you, you feel it right to your core.

THE CONSERVANCY GUARDIANS & MARA PREDATOR CONSERVATION PROGRAMME

10% of all proceeds will be going to Kenya Wildlife Trust and their Mara Predator Conservation Programme (MPCP) to support the amazing work that they do in the Mara. Predators play a vital role in the ecosystem by regulating prey populations and maintaining the natural balance. However, human-wildlife conflicts and habitat loss threaten their survival which can lead to the loss of prey populations, which predators rely on. This can cause them to move into human settlements in search of food, and in particular cattle, resulting in conflict with local communities.

MPCP seeks to understand how human-led changes affect predator movement and behaviour while increasing community awareness in the Greater Mara. Through their ‘Collars for Conservation’ initiative, they use GPS collars to monitor lions and provide data-driven solutions to identify human-wildlife conflicts before they take place. MPCP stands out for its emphasis on community-driven conservation strategies, which involve working with local communities to reduce human-wildlife conflict and promote coexistence. Through wildlife clubs, MPCP educates school children about predator conservation, creating awareness and promoting a positive attitude towards them.

Conservancy Guardians was founded in May 2020, a time of great difficulty across the globe. A total collapse in tourism revenues and the resulting impact on wildlife areas and their surrounding communities, shed clear light on the need for a broadening, holistic approach in community support and engagement when it comes to answering the long-term conservation questions in East Africa. Conservancy Guardians support a variety of initiatives including TANAPA and the Frankfurt Zoological Society’s Serengeti De-Snaring Programme, which removed over 3,000 deadly snares in 2020 alone. They are passionate about making progress in the areas of human-wildlife conflict and gender equality via community led education.


“We Are One”

Lola a Marsh Pride Lion with one of her cubs, Maasai Mara, Kenya, Africa
While following the Marsh Pride, Lola, unfortunately, lost one of her two cubs. Perhaps with memories of Lola previously losing her whole litter before even leaving the den, there was a noticeable closeness in the Marsh Pride in the days following her loss. Here, Lola’s final remaining cub shares a moment with her uncle (Lola’s brother).

“Erudition”

Kwelia the Cheetah with one of her cubs, Maasai Mara, Kenya, Africa
One of Kweli’s cubs watches on as Kweli heads off to hunt at sunset. Within moments of this photo being taken, the cub lost patience and attempted to join in, ruining any chance of success. Erudition: the quality of having or showing great knowledge or learning.

“Education”

Two Cheetah cubs Maasai Mara, Kenya, Africa
Two of Kweli’s cubs watch on as their mother hunts in the early morning sun. For once they are following their mother’s command to stay behind so as not to ruin the hunt. Although not particularly subtle, their spot on top of the termite mound provides the perfect vantage point from which to observe and learn in preparation for their upcoming separation from their mother. At 13 months old, it is just a matter of months before they will be out on their own, fending for themselves.

“Awakening”

An African elephant, Maasai Mara, Kenya, Africa
An Elephant silhouetted by the sun setting behind the imposing Oloololo Escarpment in Mara North Conservancy. Elephant populations are a conservation success story of the last 30 years. Although still lower than it was 50 years ago, the population is now increasing annually thanks for conservation initiatives. Despite this, it is important not to become complacent, as increasing populations lead to more human-wildlife conflict with elephants destroying crops and being pushed closer to settlements.

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