On assignment for the National Audubon Society, Nichole Sobecki’s latest work takes a look at the illegal owl egg trade in Kenya. The raptors are already some of most persecuted birds in Africa. Now their eggs are being stolen for witchcraft — but few seem to know or care. From ancient Greece’s Owl of Athena to Harry Potter’s devoted pet Hedwig, owls have long charmed, mystified, and intrigued humans. In the contemporary West, they are often seen as symbols of wisdom. But in Africa they’re generally viewed very differently, as harbingers of evil and misfortune, or as forms taken by nefarious sorcerers. These deeply held, widespread beliefs fuel an untold number of persecution killings. The birds are also highly sought after for use in witchcraft and traditional medicine, accounting for the deaths of possibly tens of thousands of owls annually.
“There’s a unique challenge, when it comes to documenting the environment and our climate. It’s such an overwhelming truth that it’s a very human reaction to want to turn away or disengage.” — Nichole Sobecki
The “Victims and Perpetrators” roundtable discussion, between Nichole Sobecki, Aaron Vincent Elkaim, Carol Devine, Gregg Segal, and Benjamin Petit, raises some fascinating and challenging questions on how we cover the health of our global environment.
Nichole Sobecki’s new story for The New York Times is out today.
At a time when millions of refugees around the world are largely confined to camps, when Europe is trying to close the door, when US President Donald Trump demands more deportations and a wall, one country is bucking the trend — Uganda, which accepts refugees from two never-ending wars, South Sudan to the north and DRC to the west. Uganda has one of the most generous and progressive approaches to hosting refugees in the region, if not the world. Uganda welcomed more refugees each day in 2016 than many wealthy European countries accepted the entire year, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). They live in designated areas called “settlements” where they are allocated pieces of land to put up shelters, grow food, and start their own businesses. Refugees are given relative freedom of movement, equal access to primary education, healthcare, and other basic social services, and they have the right to work and, should they wish to, to remain forever.
Seven VII photographers are talking about inspiration in this special edition of #7withVII. We ask one question and get 7 answers. We asked, “Who/what inspires you to create and why.” Here’s what Anush Babajanyan, Linda Bournane Engelberth, Ed Kashi, Esther Ruth Mbabazi, Daniel Schwartz, Nichole Sobecki, and John Stanmeyer had to say.