The Selous in Africa – A long way from anywhere


I first met Rob Ross about 15 years ago when he came into my editorial offices to show me a captivating portfolio of images he had taken of people and their communities in the cross border region of the DRC and Rwanda around the fringes of Lake Kivu.

Needless to say it wasn’t long before the photographs featured in Africa Geographic which I was publishing at the time. One image in particular from that place steeped in so much human misery remains indelibly printed in my mind – that of a beaming boy with an impossibly large basin of bananas on his head.

The thing I understood immediately about Rob, apart from his obvious talent as a photographer, was his tenacity. Travelling in Africa’s out of the way places can be testing at the best of times and on occasion down right dangerous, not experiences that you would instinctively expect a native New Yorker to be drawn to. But clearly Rob had the nerve and resolve for it and it wasn’t long before he was enthusing over his next big project – a photographic tribute to the Selous …

Screenshot 2016-07-14 10.56.59And a big project it has certainly been, entailing many years of travelling back and forth between the United States, his second home here in Cape Town and The Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania, which as he so aptly describes as being “A Long Way From Anywhere”.

The Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania is one of the last remaining great wilderness areas in Africa – it is bigger than the entire country of Switzerland. Proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982, the Selous is Africa’s oldest and largest protected area and remains one of the continent’s greatest wild places. Teeming with life—including elephants, giraffe, more lions than any other protected area on the continent, large packs of wild dogs and vast herds of buffalo—the Selous is a crown jewel of biodiversity and wilderness preservation.

Rob took more than 100,000 photographs in the  Selous over four years. But only 400 could be accommodated in the book, so a great culling was needed. It was done with characteristic and painstaking attention to detail – I know this first hand from many hours of discussing the honing process through progressive selections to reach the final cut.

The result is magnificent – 276 pages of heart-stopping images of impossibly vast landscapes, the great beasts of the African savanna and the small things, so easily overlooked but which stitch together the whole.

The text includes original essays on the history and ecology of the Selous as well as words focused on the clear and present threats facing the Game Reserve including elephant poaching and human encroachment. These are complimented by generous excerpts from Sand Rivers, Peter Matthiessen’s classic. But it is the photographs, bursts of colour, shape and form leaping from every page, that tell the real story in this beautifully produced book.

PS. I hope you enjoy these glimpses of The Selous in Africa – A long way from anywhere and that you will be moved to order a copy which you can do by contacting Rob direct at Robert J Ross Photography. It is also available in South Africa at Chandler House in Cape Town and soon in bookstores around the country. Enquires: Johan Hugo at Peter Hyde Associates


About Author

Peter has a career in publishing and conservation spanning more than four decades. His most recent project has been the development of Untold Africa, a meeting place for intelligent, engrossing and entertaining dialogue for a global community of like-minded people - people who share a common passion for the wild places of Africa, the creatures that inhabit them, and the breadth of African culture. See more

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