Bush Babies - Mélanie Wenger
        
Bush Babies
Silence. Gestures. The thick bush crackles. Marty takes his double rifle from the tracker, slowly moves ahead and waits. There she is. The tuskless elephant they have been looking for. Giant grey shaddow, snatching a branch and turning over. Pan. ' Is she dead ? '. She has instantaneously collapsed. Brain shot. ' Oh she is Marty, perfect shot '. And there start the congratulations. Smiles, teeth and handshakes. The hunt.

Marty Vick, age 62, anesthesiologist of Aberdeen, South Dakota, is fascinated by hunting and by firearms. This year, for his holidays, he chose to drag his wife in Zimbabwe to hunt his fourth elephant. 30 000 dollars the hunting safari, some candies and his rifles.

To guide him to the perfect elephant to kill, ' Crocodile Dundee ' 2.0. The professional hunter, Buzz Charlton, born Zimbabwean, matches up to the perfect Alpha male picture with his enormous rifle, his belt of cartridges engraved with his name, his brand new Ray-Bans and his crocs. The bushman
smokes the cigar, speaks to elephants and gets a kick out of an elephant charge.

Long days walking, tracking footprints and hot pooh. They would be lost without the two trackers, Criton and Nyati. Born between the lions, the leopards, the hyenas and the elephants, they have developed this vindictive hatred against wild animals as much as a contradictory respect. They put their tracking talent in service of their own survival. Hunters with a precision and efficiency that leaves speechless.

In 10 years, Africa has lost 110 000 elephants, according to the last report of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) that was presented during the CITES COP 17 last week.
Zimbabwe, along with two of his neighbours, asked for the reopening of the ivory trade, depending on the economic value of its hunting market. As the US, France has also banned ivory trade since August 17th 2016.

With no chance to bring back home his ivory tusks trophies, Marty has then decided to hunt a tuskless elephant this year. These cows are cheaper anyway and it seems it is all about the
game...

To protect the Game, that is to say the lifestock of wild animals to be killed, the Charlton ( Buzz ) McCallum safari company dispatches 24 rangers in their hunting area. Five days of patrol in the bush, in the war against poaching on the ground and in the air.

The wildlife mercenaries are assisted in the air by impressive and wildlife-counscious Zimbabwean pilots and their ultralights with their new foundation ' Flying for Wildlife '. Camp between lions, leopards and hyenas, very rare water, 40 degrees and endless walking patrols ; in one week, 60 snears are neutralized and 2 poachers chased. In one year, 20 of them were arrested 5 were judged.

We have tried to capture the esthetic of the elephant hunt, between conservation and destruction, an outdated and ' self-indulgent ' art , not without its moments of grace.

© Melanie Wenger / Cosmos
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