Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wild at Heart: The Wildebeest

Over the next few days, I will be bringing you previews of the work that will be exhibited this Saturday, May 26th at "Wild at Heart: Keep Wildlife in the Wild," the endangered species benefit that Andrew Hosner and I are co-curating at Thinkspace. 20% of the proceeds of the show will go to Born Free USA to help threatened wildlife. Hope to see you there!

Martin Wittfooth "Night Lights"

The Wildebeest or Gnu is a curious-looking antelope native to the plains and forests of Africa that sports the head and horns of an ox and the mane and tail of a horse. They can live as long as 40 years and may reach 5 feet at the shoulder and 600 pounds in weight. Each year, Africa’s wildebeest herds undertake a long-distance migration, moving their range from dry areas in the wet season to wet areas in the dry season.

Though the wildebeest population is still numerous and under active management, it is experiencing sharp declines. They require vast swaths of uninterrupted wilderness for their annual migrations, which inevitably take them outside protected reserves. Among their greatest threats are fences and roads, as these barriers prevent them from reaching watering and grazing grounds. In 1983, authorities built thousands of miles of fences across the Kalahari, which resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of wildebeests, reducing the herd’s population to 10% of its former size. Often sought for an African delicacy called biltong, wildebeest are still threatened by hunting across most of their range.

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