Mixing the rough with the smooth

Posted by Aaron Gekoski on 27 December 2011

As I write this, my toes are curling. I can feel my neck reddening with embarrassment. A film changed my life. There, I said it. Several years ago, as a bored and frustrated owner of a model agency in London, I watched Into the Wild. Perhaps Alexander Supertramp’s hopelessly romantic ideals sparked something within me. Had an insatiable love of adventure and travel lay dormant for some time? Whatever it was, the desire to free up my life, discard my possessions and see the world was overwhelming. I haven’t been the same since.

The next day I spoke to my business partner, sold him my shares and packed my rucksack. A four-month tour of southeast Asia was followed by a stint at the NHU’s excellent Wildlife Film Academy. I then lived in Tofo, Mozambique for a couple of years, helping to shoot a documentary on Mozambique’s shark finning crisis, Shiver, which can be seen here.

Now, the bulk of my work examines conflicts between man and wildlife. Recent jobs have included; living in the shark finning camps of Mozambique; working undercover on Namibia’s Skeleton Coast to report on their annual seal cull; infiltrating the ‘tortoise mafia’ in Madagascar; and traveling to Dhaka where 100,000 turtles are killed for a religious celebration. I’ve got lots of crazy adventures lined up over the coming year, involving some of Africa’s most impressive, wild and endangered animals.

Every year, up to 30,000 species become extinct due to human activities. There are simply too many people with too few resources to support us. Our wildlife is being decimated as a result. Our oceans are in a mess; over fished and polluted. Our forests are being flattened and reduced to ember. And seven billion people, half of whom live on less than $2 a day, equals a lot hungry mouths. If we are losing almost three species an hour, then what are the solutions to this global crisis? After years of working in the field, I’m still no closer to knowing. However, I’ll do my best to equip you with the information so you can make your own mind up.

But life isn’t all doom and gloom: it’s important to mix the rough with the smooth now and again. For every trip releasing confiscated tortoises back Into the Wild, there’s a funky ecolodge to be discovered. For every gruelling visit to a shark finning camp, there are heaps of unexplored beaches to stumble upon. Plus, I just bought the funkiest little VW auto villa that I hope to do miles more exploring with.

I look forward to sharing some of these experiences with you in these blogs.
You can see more of my work by visiting his website: www.aarongekoski.com.

You can see a short reel of my work, along with my colleague filmmaker Chris Scarffe, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYtORi953t4


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