By Jeannie Evers
CARMEL >> Nearly 70 elephants were killed over the past two months by poachers in one of Africa's oldest national parks. Last year, an estimated 20,000 elephants were killed across the continent, according to international wildlife regulators.
"They're just being killed at an absolutely horrendous rate," said Carmel Valley photographer Doug Steakley, who aims to bring awareness to the carnage through an exhibit opening Friday at the Arts Council for Monterey County.
"So many people are not aware of what's happening to the wildlife in Africa, how it's being really severely threatened," he said, also citing the slaughter of rhinos and human encroachment on lions. "It's changing dramatically."
Steakley's exhibit features 15 images of Africa, mostly Kenya and Tanzania, taken during photography safaris he has led in the past eight years. During an opening reception from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, he will give a half-hour presentation that includes more of his photographs and a discussion of the threats to African wildlife. (The presentation is at 6 p.m.)
"It's really important as I do more of these shows, it becomes are larger part of my presentations," he said.
Steakley, 70, got started in photography because of Africa, during a trip in 1993 to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. He started out doing mostly landscape photography — Big Sur is a favorite location — and had little interest wildlife. That changed once he started leading yearly photography safaris.
He aims for images that have impact and emotion, that embed themselves in viewers' memory long after they leave the exhibition.
"When I'm in Africa, I really try to get some sort of interaction between animals, like a mother and a baby, or animals fighting," said Steakley. "I tend to zoom in tight ... create the image so it's visually arresting, it stops you and you really want to look at it."
The exhibit will be up through Aug. 8. The opening reception will also include live world music by the Jayson Fann Trio.
Steakley is planning other photography tours to Burma, Cuba and Antarctica. For information on how to sign up, and to see more of his work, see www.douglassteakley.com.
Contact Jeannie Evers at 646-4348.
If you go
What: Opening reception for photographer Doug Steakley
When: 4 to 7 p.m. Friday; Steakley will give a presentation at 6 p.m.
Where: Arts Council for Monterey County, inside the Sunset Center at Ninth Avenue and San Carlos Street, Carmel.
Information: RSVP to Klara Hickmanova at 622-9060, ext. 103, or firstname.lastname@example.org.