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17th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest People
FATHER OF NATURE

I decided I would definitely show the work of these people, but I did not think that the photo would become a symbol of the fight against poachers. Therefore, a series of photographs of Yerlan Nurgaliyev and the little saiga cub appeared. One morning, six months after this trip, I saw everyone started to tag me on social networks, almost in all media my photo illustrated the news that Yerlan Nurgaliyev had died at the hands of poachers. It was a shock for me. It was just recently when you filmed a man, talked to him, admired him, and suddenly he was gone. Immediately they started to talk about the problems of inspectors and the fight against poachers to draw attention to the illegal shooting of saigas. It is very sad that we raise the topics only after the tragedies; it was the same with Denis Ten. For some reason, something terrible must happen in Kazakhstan in order to start solving problems.Soon, a mural appeared on one of the houses of Almaty, they invited a Dutch artist for the creation of it. An inspector was depicted with a saiga in his hands on the wall. The drawing is very similar to my photo but the face there is not Yerlan Nurgaliev’s face. City officials said it was a generalized image. However, the artist TELMO MIEL on his own page on the social network noted that it was based on my images. I am not interested in the issue of copyright. I don’t understand why this inspector does not have the face of Yerlan Nurgaliyev. Why invent heroes if they are already among us - real, not generalized? Perhaps it was the mission of Yerlan Nurgaliyev on earth - to draw attention to the toothless nature protectors, to poaching - even at the cost of his life. This must be remembered. I really hope that the situation will change for the better and that the responsibility for poaching will be tightened at the legislative level.

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 05.2018
Date Uploaded: 09.2019
Photo Location: Akmola region, Kazakhstan
Camera: NIKON D600
Copyright: © Alibek Ibrayev