Perhaps it’s the ancient elegance of cheetahs that captivates us so deeply. Or is it their speed that triggers our imagination. Whatever it is, we now stand a chance of losing the world’s most endangered big cat. A new book celebrates these enigmatic creatures and reminds us of our obligation to conserve them – and other endangered species.
All over Southern Africa, cheetah populations are declining. In just 120 years, the world population has dropped from 100 000 to the 7 100 that remain in the wild today.
Remembering Cheetahs, the newest addition to the Remembering Wildlife photographic books series, is a beautiful reminder of what may indeed become just memories if we fail to take action.
The series was created by Margot Ragget, British photographer and passionate conservationist. After seeing an elephant poached in Kenya in 2014, Margot began planning a way to shed light on their plight.
‘I had to channel this impotence that I felt into something positive so I approached fellow photographers for help and, after a unanimous response, Remembering Elephants was launched in 2016,’ she says.
Now five books later, the Remembering Wildlife series has so far raised over £775 000 (R16 million) towards conservation. Remembering Cheetahs hit the bookshelves in October 2020, and has been the fastest-selling book in the series, and already £60 000 (R1.2 million) has been donated to organisations supporting cheetah conservation in Namibia.
With each new publication, Remembering Wildlife aims to ‘produce the most beautiful book on that species ever put together – a fitting tribute to the animals, depicting their lives in the wild at the start of the 21st century’.
Remembering Cheetahs features 75 extraordinary images from 72 wildlife photographers from all over the world, invited to donate their work. There are also 10 places held in each book for the winners of a competition which allows lesser-known photographers the chance to contribute to this prestigious project (some included in this portfolio).
‘To create these moments for us to share, these talented photographers have spent months, if not years, waiting in the bush with infinite patience,’ says Professor Laurie Marker of the Cheetah Conservation Fund, a recipient of some of the funds raised by Remembering Cheetahs.
The survival of cheetahs hinges largely on conservation efforts such as this. Poaching, habitat and prey loss, intolerance from farmers and unchecked tourism have stacked up to put extraordinary pressure on the species. The most critically endangered cheetahs however, live far from the plains of Africa. In Asia – in the high arid plateau of Iran – only 40 Asiatic cheetahs remain. This book is dedicated to keepers of that species, determined not to let them disappear on our watch.
As wildlife cameraman and presenter Gordon Buchanan MBE writes in the forward to the book, ‘these pages are a celebration of the cheetah, this gift of evolution’. – Lauren Dold.
Visit the virtual gallery at rememberingwildlife.com/remembering-cheetahs/
Remembering Cheetahs is available at HPH Publishing for R895. hphpublishing.co.za
The sixth book of the series focuses on African wild dogs, and will be released in November this year.