Conflict Between Humans and Wildlife

Photo Essay by Dan Rafla

By Dan Rafla

Photography allows me to observe wildlife and spend time in nature, but my real goal is to illustrate the challenges facing animals and inspire viewers to change their behaviour. This can include slowing down while driving, or supporting initiatives for wildlife crossings over highways. Or respecting an animal’s space; observing from a distance, where an animal’s behaviour isn’t influenced by the person’s. These photos don’t encapsulate the whole issue. Human-wildlife conflict is very complex. An image of a dead animal on the road has a strong visual impact, but it’s difficult to illustrate the effect of, say, too many people in a wilderness area, which certain sensitive species then avoid. And it can’t be an either/or equation. Any solution needs to meetthe needs of wildlife and people.

My work focuses on conflict, but the goal is human-wildlife co-existence. Tremendous work has been done to mitigate conflict: installing fencing and under- and overpasses, removing wildlife attractants from communities (e.g., bearproof garbages, removal of fruit trees), education (e.g., WildSmart) and restoring habitat. Digital photography and social media, however, have contributed to poor behaviour, such as selfies with animals. The narrative changes from appreciation for the presence and existence of that animal to being about the person—with the animala commodity for that social media post. —Dan Rafla









The Plans to Strip-Mine Coal in the Mountains

It looks like spectacular wild country, but some see it more as a big money sandwich. The top layer of that sandwich is comprised of alpine grasses, forget-me-nots and stonecrop, glacier lilies and ancient, brave pines whose branches have been gnarled and weathered by centuries of wind. In summer, solitaires and ...

Fractured Forest

A yellow ski-doo pulls two sleds across an icy outflow. The machine loses grip and its track begins to spin aimlessly. Lyle Dupperon stands and rocks the machine from side to side. Left, right, left, right. Eventually the belt beneath catches, and with a puff of exhaust Dupperon zooms forward. Dupperon ...

From Grey to Green

Every year, the world uses an estimated 10 trillion kilograms of concrete. Nearly every major construction project makes use of the stuff. It’s in everything from office buildings, dams, bridges and sewers to sidewalks, home foundations, patios and birdbaths. And our use of it is only projected to climb. According ...