Sophy Roberts

Camera: Fujifilm GFX50R

Lens: 32-64

Aperture: f16

Shutter speed: 125

ISO: 200

Description: Riding under the Oloololo Escarpment, our path cut by riding guide, Daisy Soames

Story from behind the lens: I belong to a culture that’s lost touch with what it means to be in natural proximity to wild animals. The gaze that binds predator and prey has disappeared. In his brilliant 1980 essay, ‘Why Look at Animals?’, John Berger describes zoos as the ultimate representation of this degeneration. Zoos sever all connection, or feeling: ‘Nowhere in a zoo can a stranger encounter the look of an animal. At the most, the animal's gaze flickers and passes on. They look sideways. They look blindly beyond.’ Berger continues: ‘Therein lies the ultimate consequence of their marginalization.’ The Mara wildlife is not yet behind fences, but the animals have become so used to tourist vehicles, the wildebeest herds only scatter when you drive right through them. If an elephant makes a charge, there’s no urgent need to start up the engine. Out on horseback, on this conservancy safari where I encountered no other tourists for days, the relationship feels different. Berger’s gaze resonates. I find it easier to see animals as they really are, including myself. I’m emotionally conscious of what I can't see but sense, including the presence of wildlife hidden in the long grass. With that risk, there's a heightened sense of my own mortality, which brings me one step closer to the essence of being part of the natural order of life.