Keeping an eye – and lens – on pollution

Police spokesman combines love for photography and nature to help protect the environment

Helping clean up the beaches are, from left, Stephni Rose Terblanche, Madelene Van Vuuren, Gabrielle Loftie Eaton and Telanie Hartslief
Helping clean up the beaches are, from left, Stephni Rose Terblanche, Madelene Van Vuuren, Gabrielle Loftie Eaton and Telanie Hartslief
Image: André Beetge

Combining his passions for photography and nature, local police spokesman Captain André Beetge is protecting the environment from behind a lens.

A self-professed nature lover, he has embarked on a photo-shoot series centred around protecting marine and coastal wildlife from plastic and other pollutants.

In the first of his shoots, Beetge recruited four models dressed in black bags to clean up Pollok Beach on May 1.

He said he decided to broaden his photographic horizons as marine conservation is a cause close to his heart. “I don’t think people truly understand how huge the problem is,” Beetge said.

“Various studies report that by 2050, there will be more garbage and litter in our oceans than fish – and that is only 30 years away. I could still be around then.

“Other reports predict marine and coastal bird extinction levels – and for us as humans, the picture is no better. [A recent report by] the World Health Organisation indicated that about nine million people die yearly from pollution.

“About 96% of our water on Earth is held in our oceans, and we as humans are destroying the life in it.

“[These photos are] a reminder that we share in this responsibility in sustaining life for our future generation.”

Beetge, who hopes to have his own exhibition by the end of the year, says he has planned more shoots throughout the month, in which the models will dress in self-made outfits of plastic and other materials commonly found on beaches.

“Raising awareness is the main thing for me.

“I’ve shared the photos on Facebook, which doesn’t reach [as far as I’d like], but if I can convince a handful of people not to litter, and another handful to pick up litter instead of walking past it, I will have influenced them.

“In the end it is about planting seeds. I might not be able to save the beaches on my own, but if I can, through picking up litter, save 10 seabirds and 10 fish, I will have done something.”

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