Some imagery that comes to our screens can be tough to stomach, and every now and then Africa really tests one’s emotional make-up.
There is a primordial energy in the wilds of Africa, where ecosystems still function naturally, and wild animals are, well, wild. The following photos submitted to our Photographer of the Year competition reflect what goes on all day every day out there in the wild, where animals kill to survive and where individuals (weak and strong, old and young) often suffer horribly in the process.
Death can be slow and agonising or violently immediate, with many versions in-between. What is noticeable to the Africa Geographic team is how some people react negatively to such images, condemning these natural events as cruel, or unfair even, sometimes insisting that the ‘victim’ should have been ‘saved’. As if leopards have a vegan option.
We even receive direct messages from incensed followers, demanding that we remove these ‘horrible’ scenes, or face the cold shoulder.
This video of a squealing warthog being attacked from one end by a leopard, while at the same time being eaten alive from the other end by a hyena, is certainly very difficult to watch – turn the volume up, you die-hards!
Behind the scenes there appears to be a sympathy ranking system. For example, a fish gasping its last breath in a rapidly drying pool of muddy water would not generate too much sympathy, whereas a cute baby scrub hare being snacked on by a ground-hornbill would get people tapping that ‘sad face’ emoji.
So many storified wildlife documentaries follow the same Disney theme – lioness has cute baby cubs, cubs get lost, cubs get found again, all is well in Simba country.
In real life, of course, many cubs are killed by rival male lions, hyenas and crocodiles. Others starve to death or die of thirst. Only one in eight male lion cubs survive the rigours of life in Africa.
The Africa Geographic team compiled this amazing celebratory video from clips submitted by our community. All 18 wild dog puppies featured towards the end were killed shortly after this video clip was filmed, by lions. THAT is the real Africa!
Whatever floats your emotional boat, wherever you draw the line – hopefully you all agree that Africa’s wild essence is to be celebrated, and that these images represent Africa in all her raw, savage, AWESOMENESS.