No. 019 WILD SHOTS OUTREACH
Theme: Simply Beautiful
When Mike Kendrick moved to Hoedspruit in 2015, he was shocked to learn that most of the local school children from previously disadvantaged communities had never been into the world-famous Kruger National Park that stood less than 30km away from their homes and schools. The British teacher who has always worked in areas of socio-economic challenge, is also a published photographer and passionate conservationist. He rolled all his interests together to create Wild Shots Outreach, a programme to train high-school children (and now also unemployed youth) in wildlife photography.
“The Kruger Park should be part of their national identity,” says Kendrick, whose intimate eight-person workshops ultimately also engage these young people in conservation by giving them first-hand experience of the bush. Five photography sessions using donated DSLR cameras, and a game drive at the end of the course have the kids walking away with a certificate and printed photos of their work, which go into an exhibition for their community to enjoy and learn from too. Every school Kendrick works with gets to keep one of the cameras so that the children are able to practise their new-found interest.
Another reason for starting the NPO is that when helping his wife and her business partner find photographers from around the world to present talks at their annual Wild Shots Wildlife Photography Symposium, they could never find a black South African wildlife photographer. Kendrick hopes that his programme, which won a SANParks Kudu Award in the Environmental Education category in 2017, will soon change this inequality. Wild Shots Outreach and its supporters have funded the studies of one of the programme’s most promising students to attend AFDA film school in Johannesburg, while another rising star, Kgaugelo Neville Ngomane, won Young Environmental Photographer of the Year 2019 from the International Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management for his image of a rhino de-horning. Other former students have found their way into the wildlife tourism industry as guides and trackers.
To date, 620 people have been trained by Kendrick. But, he says, Wild Shots Outreach is more than teaching kids about photography and wildlife. “It’s about self-empowerment, self-confidence and ownership. It’s very difficult to feel attached to something you’ve been separated from, so if you can get these people into the Kruger Park and the private reserves to view these beautiful open spaces, it really promotes a passion for wildlife and conservation.”
One of his previous workshops ended in the students documenting an elephant re-collaring. Six-hundred-and-fifty people from the area attended the little photo exhibition afterwards. “You wonder what effect such photos have on a community when you see the thrill of children telling their stories,” says Kendrick.
100 Beautiful Things is presented by the V&A Waterfront in celebration of South Africa’s creativity, compassion, ingenuity and resilience. Every week we will be showcasing five amazingly beautiful creative things that make us proud. It is curated in partnership with Platform Creative.
All images are copyright Wild Shots Outreach
1 Top left – Photographer - Mike Kendrick
2 Top Centre - Photographer - Mike Kendrick
3 Top Right – Photographer Joia Mcunu (Lions)
4 Bottom left – Photographer - Mike Kendrick
5 Bottom center left – Photographer – Nothando Mkombo (Elephant)
6 Bottom center right – Photographer – Vusi Mathe
7 Bottom right – Photographer – Vusi Mathe