Call of the wild: Teen photographer warns Davos about animal extinction

1 / 7
World-renowned wildlife activist Dame Jane Goodall and South African photographer Skye Meaker share the stage at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, in Davos. (WEF Photo)
2 / 7
Skye Meaker was the recipient of the 2018 Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year award. (Courtesy Skye Meaker)
3 / 7
Skye Meaker was the recipient of the 2018 Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year award. (Courtesy Skye Meaker)
4 / 7
Limpy the leopard is one of Skye Meaker’s favorite subjects. (Courtesy Skye Meaker)
5 / 7
Skye Meaker was the recipient of the 2018 Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year award. (Courtesy Skye Meaker)
6 / 7
Limpy the leopard is one of Skye Meaker’s favorite subjects. (Courtesy Skye Meaker)
7 / 7
Skye Meaker was the recipient of the 2018 Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year award. (Courtesy Skye Meaker)
Updated 25 January 2019
0

Call of the wild: Teen photographer warns Davos about animal extinction

  • Skye Meaker was joined onstage after his Davos speech by chimpanzee expert Dame Jane Goodall for a question and answer session
  • Meaker’s parents gave him a simple camera when he was seven and he used it during family trips into the African bush

LONDON: Teenager and award-winning photographer Skye Meaker has more years ahead of him than most people who attended the World Economic Forum in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos.

But the 17-year-old warned delegates at the annual gathering that, unless serious action was taken, some animal species were likely to die out during his lifetime.

Meaker, who lives in South Africa, was invited to Davos after being crowned Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year and used images from his portfolio to drive home his message.

“I’m talking about my story in wildlife photography to raise awareness of how the world’s wildlife population is being decimated,” he told Arab News ahead of the Davos meeting. “I’m very nervous. I got the invitation in November and I’ve been working on my speech for the past two months. Basically, I just want to show the beauty of nature.”

The photo that won him the top prize in the world’s largest international wildlife photography competition was called Lounging Leopard, a portrait of a female leopard relaxing in a tree and taken in Botswana.

He has known the portrait subject since he was 8 and feels they have developed a rapport.

“In a sense we’ve grown up together. I named her Limpy because when she was a cub she fell out of a tree and broke her leg. I can tell it’s her from her tracks because one leg drags. She also has more prominent whiskers and she’s a bit smaller than other leopards. I think she feels safe around me. She is one of the friendlier leopards. She’s never bothered by vehicles and she stretches out on our vehicle whenever I’m in it,” he said.

Meaker has been taking photographs for more than half his life. His parents gave him a simple camera when he was 7 and he used it during family trips into the African bush.

There were other events, too, that propelled him toward his passion for conservation and photography. He met the wildlife photographer Greg du Toit during a family holiday in Kenya aged 13. Du Toit, after seeing the teen’s photos, advised him to enter the Young Wildlife Photographer competition run by the Natural History Museum in London. It receives tens of thousands of entries from 96 countries.

Meaker reached the finals.

The following year, the 50th anniversary of the award, he was again placed in the under-14 category and met his hero, the celebrated naturalist and broadcaster, Sir David Attenborough.

“He signed a book of my photos for me and gave me some words of encouragement,” he said.

Last year it was Limpy who brought him the top prize. Unusually for a wildlife picture, it is not an action shot. It is a close-up and shows her gazing into the distance.

“It looks like there’s nothing going on but really there’s lots going on. What’s she looking at? What’s she thinking?”

Meaker had spotted the leopard snoozing in a tree and then drove around, hoping she would wake up. She opened her eyes just as a shaft of light fell across her face.

He was joined onstage after his Davos speech by chimpanzee expert Dame Jane Goodall for a question and answer session. She asked him to work with her Roots and Shoots program, which encourages children in 80 countries to get involved in nature exploration.

“I’d love to!” he replied.

“Good, we’ll talk about it later,” said Dame Jane.

He plans to study accounting for income support during future photography trips.

“I can quite happily live in the bush for a month or two,” he said.

As for Limpy, she recently gave birth to her second cub. Naturally, Meaker has already photographed mother and baby.


Art Dubai, where anything goes, gets off to a colorful start

The fair’s 13th edition runs from March 20-23 and features 92 Contemporary and Modern galleries from 42 countries. (Arab News)
Updated 20 March 2019
0

Art Dubai, where anything goes, gets off to a colorful start

DUBAI: Art Dubai, the largest art fair in the Middle East, got off to a colorful start on Wednesday and more than 92 galleries showcased their chosen artists in the city’s Madinat Jumeriah.

The fair’s 13th edition runs from March 20-23 and features 92 Contemporary and Modern galleries from 42 countries, as well as a bevy of galleries from the UAE.  There are also a number of events going on around the city, as part of Art Week, including Art Nights at the Dubai International Financial Center, which took place on Tuesday. 

You can read more about Art Nights, and see the wild and wonderful art on show, here

Highlights include new gallery section Bawwaba, showcasing art from the Global South; UAE NOW - the first section of its kind - spotlighting local independent artist-run platforms and subcultures, their place in the UAE’s evolving landscape and contribution to creating new ways of thinking, theory and artistic movements and the Contemporary section — two gallery halls presenting work from 59 galleries from 34 countries by some of the most notable contemporary artists working today. It will make you smile, smirk and everything  in-between.

Art Dubai 2019 welcomes more than 500 artists representing 80 nationalities across its four gallery sections: Art Dubai Contemporary, Art Dubai Modern, Bawwaba and Residents.

We take a look at six of our favorite artists and pieces here.

The diversity on show is notable, with galleries from Latin America placed next to booths from Beirut, Saudi Arabia and London.

Pablo del Val, Artistic Director of Art Dubai, said: “Art Dubai continues to develop original content to redefine what an art fair can be and contribute to the UAE and wider region’s cultural landscape. We represent an art world that is truly global and inclusive, rooted in artistic discovery and the promotion of new and alternative perspectives, community building, idea generation and cultural exchange. Geographies, galleries and artists, art typologies and thematics that are not often seen side-by-side, or even as part of the same conversation, will converge at the fair. We hope that new discoveries will be made and new synergies formed.”

It’s a melting pot of artistic expression and media, with sculptures, canvases and the odd video installation vying for space in the crowded halls.

There is a distinct focus on contemporary art, so if you’re into museum-worthy paintings, this may not be your cup of tea, but if you are willing to experiment, it’s the perfect spot to question the boundaries of art.

Battery-operated imaginary animals careened across the floor in one booth, while a fine spider’s web of black string formed an origami-like sculpture in another — anything goes at Art Dubai, as long as it’s not too risqué.

But, why tell you when we can show you? Scroll through the photo gallery to find out more about the art on show here.