I spoke to Mohamed from Istanbul two
weeks ago where he is spending time with his grandson.
Knowing his deep commitment to
wildlife conservation as an ecologist and a former
game warden I have always inquired after his many
projects including raising funds for organizations
he cares about especially botanical and zoological
Currently top on his priority is Wildaid,
which is doing considerable work in south-east Asia
on elephant, tiger and avi-faunal conservation.
Mohamed has offered to donate six of
his latest wildlife paintings to help raise funds
for various projects there.
Asked if he would do the same for
Kenya he said although the East African Wildlife
Society had several years ago through Fiona Alexander
done considerable work in pooling the resources of
various artists to create the renowned Whale Tail
Exhibition, since then no serious effort has been
undertaken to raise funds through artists.
It is also possible that the main
players of yore may have left Kenya for greener
Political events in Kenya and frequent
reports of the killing and poisoning of wildlife do
not augur well for Kenya, he said.
The heydays of movie makers who
provided so much publicity for Kenya, especially
with Robert Redford and Meryl Streep playing key
roles in Out of Africa are gone and forgotten today.
Hollywood movies about stories of
Africa filmed in Kenya brought a considerable number
of tourists to Kenya.
However, high taxes compelled
producers to go elsewhere and Kenya has plunged
herself in a deep quagmire.
He also feels that the ban on hunting
which came into effect in 1977 and is still in force
did a lot of damage to a sustainable wildlife
Despite the misconceptions which were
prevalent, 'controlled hunting' was done out of
National parks and game reserves.
The presence of hunters kept poachers
out of these wilderness areas.
He believes that the licensing of
firearms for sporting purposes should be under the
umbrella of KWS and totally removed from Central
Applicants should satisfy KWS board
members of their responsibility and knowledge of
firearms, identification of various mammals, plant
species and birds before they are granted a licence to
acquire a weapon.
Mohamed has painted a lot of
elephants that he has seen and observed for many
hours throughout East Africa.
The habitat of these magnificent
animals has shrunk alarmingly and it would seem that
with the ever burgeoning human population they are
headed for extinction.
He recalls with nostalgia the vast
herds of elephants he used to see along the lower
Tana River in the early 1960’s.
Kenya’s finest game fields were here
along the lower Tana River.
Ask any former game warden or
It was Mohamed Ismail, Abdulla el
Bussaidy, Ken Smith and Denis Zaphiro who realized the
potential these areas had as bio-spheres of extreme
beauty and economic gain for Kenya.
Together they created the Boni, Dodori,
and the Tana River Primate Game Reserves.
Coastweek - -
Point' - Mohamed Ismail.
Coastweek - -
- Mohamed Ismail.
|Coastweek - -
- Mohamed Ismail.
They were also instrumental in the
establishment of the Kiunga and Mpunguti Marine
"Art like writing is tough
business, most artists achieve fame posthumously.
"It is only when an artist is
no longer in this world, that the hyenas and
vultures in human form descend on the artist’s
work, willing to pay prices which were denied the
artist when he was alive!"
"I have been self-taught, but
studied the works of various masters from various
"Ruben, Rembrandt, Delacroix,
Van Gogh, Paul Cezanne and the 19th century
Orientalists, especially Jean Leon Gerome."
"I also make it a point to
visit museums everywhere I go.
"I have spent time at the
Prado, the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art,
the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the Los
Angeles Museum of Art.
"One can learn a lot from these
"Bartolome Esteban Murillo’s
realism amazes me considering that during his time
he never had the gadgets we have today which help us
enormously in the creative sphere."
Mohamed finds it flattering that the
late Andy Warhol created a series of silk screens of
endangered wildlife species in 1983 and used his
photograph of a Grevy’s zebra among five animal
species Warhol created on the advice of Ronald Feldman
Art and wildlife are aesthetic and