When photography was first invented back in 1839, people were unsure what to do with this marvelous new invention. At first it was a novelty, but over time, photography has become an essential way for humans to document the changing world around them. In his powerful photo series Inherit the Dustfamed wildlife photographer Nick Brandt takes an introspective look at the changing face of the African landscape, at this key moment in our history. He documents the effects of habitat loss and poverty, as well as the appalling plight of Africa’s endangered species. With these photographs, he makes a powerful statement about the precarious times that we are living in. If we keep this up, our children will inherit the dust. Because dust is all that will remain.

Here, a photograph of a life sized elephant roams through a trash heap, which is all that remains of their former habitat. All around the animal, people are scavenging, hoping to find food or valuables among the human waste.

African rangers line up with the tusks of murdered elephants. Notice how the tusks get smaller and smaller, as the biggest elephants have all been killed.

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In contrast, this image shows a herd of living elephants being led by their matriarch back in 2008. Most of the elephants in this photo are now dead at the hands of ivory poachers. Only their tusks remain.

 Very few people have ever seen an elephant this large and now, no one else ever will.

These African rhinos wander through the wasteland that was once home. They seem to be thinking “We lost our lives for this?”

A herd of wild giraffes enjoy a moment of peace in the African Savannah. Scenes like this are becoming increasingly hard to find.

A lion enjoys a cool breeze, but not even the king of the jungle is safe from the hands of man. Increases in poaching, trophy hunting and the spread of agriculture are causing lions too to lose their lives in alarming numbers. Their population is down 75 percent in the last ten years.

 An elephant named Igor stands as a lonely reminder of the plight of his species. He has since been killed, but a child’s poem immortalizes his fate.

 

 

If we don’t act to protect wildlife, photographs and images like these are all that will remain. For more on how you can take action for wildlife, check out these resources:

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To learn more about Nick Brandt and his work, visit his Facebook page here.

All image source: Nick Brandt

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