EarthDesk is pleased to present the gallery of elephant photographs below taken by Pace masters in environmental science candidate Bethany A. Ordonez in her native South Africa. Bethany was born and raised on the edge of iSimangaliso Wetland Park, which Nelson Mandela described as “the only place on the globe where the oldest land mammal (the rhinoceros) and the world’s biggest terrestrial mammal (the elephant) share an ecosystem with the world’s oldest fish (the coelacanth) and the world’s biggest marine mammal (the whale).” More from Bethany after the gallery.

Click to view full size images, and then follow the arrows. All images © 2017 Bethany A. Ordonez.

Bethany A. OrdonezBethany spent her young life amidst the rhinos, elephants and other wildlife that populate iSimangaliso and the two wildlife reserves that bordered the other end of her hometown.

As a child we spent many weekends in the park and had a lot of exposure to wildlife. In school we were taught the importance of protecting our wildlife, and we as children were part of a “Save the Rhino” campaign back in the early 90’s. We were also part of a campaign to protect the dunes of St. Lucia from mining.  This was before the wetland park was designated a world heritage site.” 

We asked her how wildlife conservation values differ between the U.S. and South Africa:

Wildlife conservation is a huge topic in South Africa.  It is not just something that is discussed, but it is part of our lives.  We don’t consider wildlife conservation to be an abstract idea that is the job of someone else, instead for South African’s its OUR wildlife, OUR heritage, and it is OUR responsibility to protect it and voice our opinions.  We have never been a nation to sit back and let things happen to us. We are a take charge and get things done nation. When the dunes of St. Lucia were threatened with mining, thousands and thousands of people protested and petitioned to stop that from happening, and we won.  

Next Sunday, more photos from Bethany and more about her work here at Pace and her plans for afterward.