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Looking back, moving forward

Becky Walter, AWF intern in the field, signs off with the final installment of her photo diary of adventures in the Kazungula Heartland. Click on any of the images below to view them in full size. 

I am now back in the States, and in my final year at Ursinus College.  Looking back at my time spent in the Kazungula Heartland, traveling around Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe, I cannot help but smile.  So many wonderful adventures and incredible experiences, from watching a herd of 100 elephants walking down to drink from the Chobe River, to photographing the Inyambo Fish Farm community, and  flying over Victoria Falls. Being an Environmental Studies Major, I have spent my college education largely focusing on issues of conservation and human development, and learning the success stories, and also the pitfalls, of organizations trying to address these challenges in our world.

A young bull elephant smells us as our scent drift across towards the group of over 100 elephants coming to drink from the Chobe River in Botswana.

I cannot express enough how wonderful it was working for African Wildlife Foundation, and learning about their many projects in Kazungula, and seeing the success of their efforts.  Truly working from the grass roots level and upward, AWF works not only to protect and conserve wildlife and natural habitats, but works with the communities and empowering the people of Africa.  Building a solid foundation from which to expand from, AWF enables change and growth in avenues that help not only the natural world, but also the people within it.  Their successes are clearly evident, from the creation of the Lupani School in Sekute, to Ngoma lodge in Botswana, and rhino research and support in Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park. 

Storks fly above as we boated along the Zambezi River in Mwandi, Zambia.

Africa has always been my happy place, and the place for a lot of my inspiration for life and what I want to do.  Learning about AWF’s projects and their goals has only further encouraged me to keep moving forward with my life and my career.  I want to work towards a brighter and better future for our natural world and for all life within it.  I want to keep pursuing conservation photography, and through my work open up everyone’s eyes to what is happening and what needs to be done.  So much of our society has lost sight and lost the connection to our natural world, and consequently often harms natural environments and wildlife instead of protecting them.  Organizations like AWF are crucial in our world today, safe-guarding ecosystems and species, and also helping and tying in local communities to their natural resource benefits and educating them on better ways of living within the natural world. 

A local woman who was fishing sits by the edge of the Zambezi in Inyambo, Zambia. 

I feel very fortunate to have been able to see so much of the world already in my life, and honored to have been able to help document the Kazungula Heartland for AWF.  There is so much more I plan on pursuing in my life, and seeing and experiencing in our world.  While I am sad to be back in the States, I have only one more year until I will be free to really start living and pursuing my career in conservation photography.  Africa, with its people and culture, its landscapes and wildlife, will forever more stand as a place of inspiration and motivation for me and for my work.

On my last morning in Zambia, I hiked down into the fall with AWF staff. This shows the first bend of the Zambezi coming from the fall on the right, and winding around the first curve off to the left. Called the “boiling point,” the water churns as it makes the hard turn, finally flowing off under the bridge. Double rainbows stretched across and arching from the cliff into the water. 


About the Author

"Africa has been an integral influence on my dreams and my life from a very young age. An Environmental Studies major and senior at Ursinus College, I travel back to Africa with a more focused view, learning about and documenting the various AWF projects in the Kazungula Heartland. Through my work I hope to make a difference in this world, and spread awareness of key environmental and humanitarian issues."

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AWF Blogs bring you to the critical landscapes we work in, where conservation benefits both wildlife and people alike. The blogs are written by our staff - men and women who have dedicated their lives to Africa's wildlife, people and wild lands.