“It takes a lot of courage to live according to our true nature, because it is based on a decision to break with traditional models to return to the fundamentals of our species, namely our indestructible connection to the natural environment. Nature has the power not only to respond generously to all our needs, but also to make us happy. And this happens, no matter where we are, as long as we have still preserved a corner of nature where can flourish an ecosystem. For having spent my life observing animals, I am not very optimistic about the future of biodiversity, whether in France, Africa or the world. What a disaster for the planet! We show some commitment but there are very little concrete actions. Today, human race has become an invasive and harmful species, while we have the opportunity to do extraordinary things, if we can put a stop to runaway demographic growth and limit our over-consumption of natural resources. In my conferences, When I speak at children and youth conferences, I warn them that they are going to lose everything and that they must react now before having my age. Only their generation can decide to consume differently before settling into the routine of an adult life. Do not stick to models imposed from outside or pre-fabricated blueprints!
On my first trip to Central Africa, I went to the Gounda Saint-Floris National Park in the north of the country, and there was a picture of rhinoceros at the entrance. When I returned ten years later, in the early 1990s, the Park warden told me that the last rhinoceros had just been slaughtered: the Diceros Bicornis subspecies or black rhinoceros, which has 2 horns was nipped for all time. It had already disappeared from Zakouma National Park in Chad. Once again, I had been deprived of this biodiversity with which I feel connected. At present, the rhino horn traffic is responsible for a genocide on a global scale. There is also an extinction of wild dogs that disturbs the entire ecosystem. As a result, the overpopulated hyenas cause a significant mortality of young cheetahs, threatening the species with extinction. Another example .. A decree in Botwana has allowed to build road crossing the Kalahari game reserve, and this has turned upside down the great migration of blue wildebeest. Hundreds of thousands died because they could no longer access the water points. Such a hecatomb! And it decimates herds of wildlife across this country. Or, lions poisoned at the Masai Mara because the breeders return to the park to find pasture and graze the increasing number of cattle. In the end, the wildlife species have no more space and overlap in a more and more restricted and degraded territory. Safaris are therefore the lesser of two evils to prevent poaching and help for conservation. With the association “Cheetah for ever”, we have saved 11 baby cheetahs in one year. It’s not much but it’s better than nothing; and it is at this price that the inevitable disappearance of species on this earth can be reversed.
Today, I am taking pictures solely for this purpose, to raise awareness and bear witness. I’m preparing a beautiful book for next year, with the cooperation of the designer Marco Pettini, to reflect this loss of biodiversity in Africa. One of the things that is most unbearable to me is sport hunting, which decimates the little nature and biodiversity that we have left. We must mobilize citizens around the country to stop this cruel slaughter. We should federate photographers, mountain bikers, joggers, trekkers, walkers and leading figures from a variety of trades into a powerful lobby to assert our rights . We should ban immediately hunting on Sunday; then protect foxes because it is absolutely not a harmful species, and stop decimating water-rats with no reason. I truly cannot understand how such practices can exist. Finally, I have the impression that the Pantin cemetery syndrome has been an important part of my life. I do not feel like I belong to a species above the others, for example an ant, but at the same level; and its life has the same value as if a superior being from the Galaxy comes to crush me, like my foot on an ant-hill. In the Amazon, twenty thousand hectares of forest are burned each year to build constructions and animals have nowhere to go. Such a mess because there is a treasure there, with special biotopes and endemic species that live only in this specific place of the world. We decimate our precious heritage!
Yes, I am aware of the privilege of having seen all this natural wealth in my life. And in the same time, my only pictures cannot do anything. Besides, it is nature that is incredibly beautiful and that makes amazing pictures? Isn’t it? In fact, we are in true luxury when we experiment furtive moments of pure grace, like the osmosis that I could live with Romi, the sublime leopard, or Scarface, the present Lion King of the Masai Mara. And of course, in the relationship to others with warm, friendly and genuine exchanges. Because the only thing that remains in the end is love and caring for every relationship: with one another, our neighbors, our customers, all humanity, and creation as a whole. That’s where we find our purpose and reason for living.”
Interview held by Carine Mouradian on October 20, 2018
Link to the website of Tony Crocetta
Read also the portrait of Tony Crocetta