Margot Raggett gave up a career as CEO of a London PR company and went to Africa to follow her love of wildlife photography. But her path changed in 2014 when she was in Kenya and came across the carcass of a poached elephant. Margot was so deeply affected by this, that she was determined to do something about it. She spent months persuading some of the world’s best wildlife photographers to each donate a photograph that she could include in what she planned would be “the most beautiful book on a species ever seen,” the sale of which would raise funds for elephant conservation. The book, Remembering Elephants, was launched in 2016. Five years of “camera-derie” and five books later, the Remembering Wildlife fundraising photography book series, has raised over $1.1 million for conservation and has just released the sixth and latest book in the series, Remembering African Wild Dogs.
The series title was inspired by a remark by Sir David Attenborough, who asked, “Are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book?” Margot herself adds, “Five years ago, I wrote to Sir David and said I wanted to raise $1 million for conservation through books which would help protect those animals. I’m determined to hit that target and I can’t break a promise to my idol!”
Over the last 5 years, almost 200 photographers have donated images to the Remembering Wildlife collection: Remembering Elephants, Remembering Rhinos, Remembering Great Apes, Remembering Lions, Remembering Cheetahs, and now, hot off the press, Remembering African Wild Dogs. Profits from the books have gone to 55 conservation projects in 24 countries, including Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, and Uganda. More than 32,000 copies have been sold and the series has some very famous fans across the globe, including Russell Crowe, Michelle Pfeiffer, Pierce Brosnan, and Kevin Pietersen.
The Books In The Series
Such was the success of Remembering Elephants, that Remembering Rhinos was quickly announced and launched in 2017, once again to critical acclaim. Remembering Great Apes, the third book in the series was published in 2018 and featured images donated by 72 photographers and a foreword by renowned ethnologist Dr. Jane Goodall. 2019 saw the launch of the fourth book in the series, Remembering Lions, followed by Remembering Cheetahs in 2020, which despite the challenges of 2020, was one of the fastest-selling books to date. Altogether, the series has now distributed over one million dollars to conservation projects across Africa and Asia. All profits are given directly to projects focussing on the species that each book is dedicated to.
With only 400,000 elephants left in the wild, this, the largest living land mammal, is classified as endangered and humans are to blame. Hunting and habitat loss are the main reason elephants are now endangered. Many African herds were hunted for their ivory tusks and their numbers were decimated as a result. Though the ivory trade is now illegal, poachers still kill for it.
The Tsavo Conservation Area is home to Kenya’s biggest elephant population, including most of the world’s last remaining “Super Tuskers.” A Super Tusker is a male bull elephant whose tusks weigh over 100 pounds each. Tusks this size are usually so long they scrape along the ground when the elephant walks. Protecting the last remaining Super Tuskers is a difficult task. They roam far and wide across the Tsavo Conservation Area and require constant protection from poaching. They are targeted by poachers constantly due to the astronomical value of their tusks. A single tusk from a Super Tusker, which could weigh over 50 kilograms, is worth around $25,000, even more, once it has been carved, so the aim of the game is to stay ahead of the poachers.
The Tsavo Trust which operates in the Tsavo Conservation Area relies on donations to function and protect the elephants. Most years, I take groups of climbers up Mount Kilimanjaro who are climbing to raise funds for Tsavo Trust. One of the many projects that received money from the sales of Remembering Elephants was the Tsavo Trust, specifically toward keeping their aerial patrol helicopters in the air. These aerial patrols are vital to spotting and apprehending poachers and protecting the elephants.
Rhinos are probably the most endangered animals in Africa, predominantly due to illegal poaching to satisfy the demand for their horns in Asia and the Middle East.
Saving the Survivors, in South Africa, is a team of wildlife vets whose primary mission is to save animals who have fallen victim to poaching. While they will attend to the needs of any injured animal, most of their efforts are directed towards rhinos, due to the vicious attacks that so many of these creatures fall victim to.
Nearly $50,000 from the sales of Remembering Rhinos was given to Saving the Survivors to assist in the treatment of Seha and Thembi, two white rhinos who suffered horrific facial wounds as a result of poaching. The donation enabled Saving the Survivors to provide long-term treatment to the pair, who both went on to successfully reproduce.
Remembering Great Apes
I fell in love with chimpanzees as a child, reading the books of renowned chimpanzee conservationist Jane Goodall. Many years later, I got the opportunity to visit the area, on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania, where she had worked. To this day, seeing chimpanzees in the wild is one of my most memorable wildlife experiences. One of the photographs in this book was taken by a friend of mine, of a chimpanzee I saw when I was in Tanzania. The Jane Goodall Institute is one of the many recipients of funding raised by the sale of Remembering Great Apes.
With only 20,000 left in the wild, lions are officially classified as “vulnerable.” Illegal bushmeat hunting, the trade in body parts, conflicts with local people due to livestock depredation, habitat loss, and unsustainable trophy hunting, are all contributing to the decline of this, the “King of Beasts.”
One of the many lion conservation projects to receive money from the sale of Remembering Lions is Zambian Carnivore Programme, a not-for-profit organization based here in Zambia, where I live. It received around $15,000 to be used in its anti-snaring work in the Luangwa Valley, which is one of the 10 remaining lion strongholds on the continent and home to Zambia’s largest lion population.
There are estimated to be only 7,000 cheetahs, the fastest land mammal in the world, left in the wild. They are listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, but recent studies have revealed that their numbers are falling so fast that scientists feel they should now be classified as endangered. Their future looks uncertain.
Again, one of the many projects that was supported by the proceeds from the sales of Remembering Cheetahs, was the Zambian Carnivore Programme, which received funds for satellite collars and a motorcycle to be used for research and anti-snaring activities.
Remembering African Wild Dogs
The African wild dog, also called the African painted wolf or the African hunting dog, is one of the world’s most endangered mammals, with a mere 6,600 left on the planet. African wild dogs are listed as endangered due to a range of factors, including habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict, getting caught in snares set by poachers hunting for bushmeat, and infectious diseases like canine distemper and rabies.
Remembering Wild Dogs is the sixth, and latest, book in the series and I was lucky to see an early release copy. The book is beautiful. Full of stunning photos, once again all donated by more than 80 of the world’s top wildlife photographers. The book aims to demystify wild dogs, raise awareness of their plight, and also raise funds to protect them. Indeed, the book made its first donation even before it was launched, giving $25,000 to support the successful reintroduction of African wild dogs into Malawi after decades of absence.
I know several of the photographers who have donated work to the various books in the Remembering series, and all tell me they are delighted with the project and with its success. Daryl Balfour, one of the contributing photographers, said “Margot has revolutionized wildlife coffee table books… is raising so much awareness and so much money. It’s an incredible series. I take my hat off to her.”
How Does It All Work?
Unlike many other fundraising organizations Remembering Wildlife runs as a business and not as a charity. So unlike most charities, it doesn’t ask for donations (though it will accept them if you offer!), instead, it sells you something beautiful, a book or a print, and promises that 100 percent of the profits will go to conservation projects.
To purchase copies of any of these beautiful books just go online. In addition, Remembering Wildlife, marked its fifth anniversary by launching an online print shop, where a selection of images from the whole collection can be purchased. These are images by some of the best wildlife photographers on the planet.