According to a study by the United Nations World Tourist Organisation, 80% of international travel sales to the African continent are for wildlife tourism. You can have a quick confirmation of the study by standing in the line for boarding a plane to a sub-Saharan destination: most of the caucasian travelers are wearing high mountain shoes and trousers, camouflage dressing, and sometimes even anti-mosquitos hat.
Every time I travel to an African country, especially if it is a sub-Saharan one, there is always somebody asking me if I saw or photographed some wild animals. It is what I started to call "the lion complex”. Decades of stereotypical representations of “the dark & exotic Africa” have created a subconscious expectation in the western world visitor that resumes the whole African continent to a giant destination for Safaris.
During my last travel to Mozambique, while I was working to a photographic project, I decided that in my free time I was going to create an assay to answer to whom at home was asking me about the wild animals. I started doing some budget plans and immediately my economic possibilities crashed my dreams: going to a safari has an average cost of 100 U$D per night, plus the costs to rent a car, hire a guide and to reach the Natural Park (by plane, bus or car). Besides all the costs for the photographic equipment required to shoot decent pictures of wild animals in their environment. The mission was definitely impossible! I was almost defeated, until a perfect solution comes to my mind: the Natural History Museum of Maputo. With 1 USD budget (for the ticket) I would be able to shoot some “national geographic style picture", avoiding the risk of catching malaria, and contributing to the valorization of Mozambican cultural institutions. In fact, the Natural History Museum of Maputo is one of the most important museums of Sub-Saharan Africa.