An elephant lies defeated, his legs chained to the ground. A large drop of tear starts to stream down its face as a girl peers out of a window, expressionless. It is as though the role of man and beast is reversed.
“Trading to Extinction”, Patrick Brown’s riveting images of the illegal trade of endangered animals in Asia, is now exhibited at the Royal Gardens in Siem Reap. The exhibition, which will run between 29 November – 26 December 2014, is proudly sponsored by Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa.
With his return to the 10th Angkor Photo Festival & Workshop to show this body of work, Patrick has come full circle. He first exhibited images of illegal wildlife trading as an ongoing series back in 2005 at the 1st Edition of Angkor Photo Festival & Workshops.
Since then, Patrick has continued working on this project tenaciously. For more than a decade, he followed the illegal animal trade trail – from the forests in Asia to the trafficking hubs of Beijing, Bangkok, London, Tokyo and New York to expose the atrocity of animal cruelty fueled by human greed.
“This is not a project about the animals. It is about the crime committed against the animals,” he said, when interviewed in Siem Reap. “And so, it is not a pretty project.”
Despite the illegality of the animal trade, Patrick was relatively free to photograph and document the trade most of the time by simply appearing to be a tourist. “I knew I was photographing something which the traders would not like. And so, by behaving like a tourist, I was able to diffuse the attention from them on my real motives.”
Patrick’s investigative piece on the illegal animal trading has won critical acclaim. But he acknowledges the road to stopping such crime is long and difficult. Recently, the Interpol has estimated the environmental crime wave to be worth $70 -$213 billion annually- an all-time high.
And this is why it is important for people to see such images, said Hanno Stamm, general manager of Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa.
As a partner of APFW in supporting Patrick’s body of work, Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa is collaborating with the APFW to bring this exhibition to Siem Reap.
Hanno, who is an avid bird watcher and photographer himself, said he hopes the photographs will help raise awareness on the wildlife crises happening globally. “We are always supportive of such projects and I hope that the young people in Cambodia will have more interests in nature conservation issues after seeing these photographs,” he said.
The exhibition is also supported by Wildlife Alliance, which has graciously sponsored tonight’s opening of the exhibition. The leader in direct protection to forests and wildlife in the Southeast Asian tropical belt, representatives from Wildlife Alliance will be present at the opening to speak about the issue.