Gemfields is proud of its gemstones featured in the jewellery of luxury houses and cutting-edge designers, but the company is also particularly proud of one small collection that will never appear on the catwalk or red carpet.
It’s a collection of satellite collars worn by the animals under the protection of the Zambian Carnivore Programme, an initiative supported by Gemfields as part of its conservation and care projects in Africa. National Geographic’s photographer and filmmaker Shannon Wild recently visited these projects to create a series of short films highlighting the vital work carried out by the dedicated teams in these remote regions.
As captured by Shannon in her first film, the rangers at the Zambian Carnivore Programme analyse the data from the collars to monitor and track lion prides, wild dogs and cheetahs in the Greater Kafue Ecosystem, the largest protected area in Zambia. ZCP then visits every collared animal to check in on them and ensure their safety and survival.
Kafue is home to large numbers of lion, cheetah and wild dog, with studies of their population’s interaction with humans and the ecosystem a key part of ZCP’s work. “By fitting just one lioness with a collar, the team can extrapolate information on the whole pride,” Wild explains passionately. “It’s opened up a whole new window on their world.”
Wild’s second film sees her spending time in the remote Montepuez region of Mozambique, home of Gemfields’ Montepuez ruby mine, shooting the two mobile health clinics that serve six villages – something that struck a chord with Wild, whose mother was a nurse back in Australia.
She went on to explore one of the two women-run farming associations built by Gemfields to provide training in crop rotation, pest control and conservation farming. The beautifully shot film concludes with a visit to a primary school paid for by the company – which lead to her shooting spectacularly fast-moving football match.
“The soccer match was definitely one of my favourite moments,” Wild says with a grin. “It was just colour and dynamics. The projects were a real eye opener for me – to see how Gemfields is giving back to the local community: it’s making a world of difference.”
Gemfields has always believed that coloured gemstones should be mined and marketed with legitimacy, transparency and integrity. The company aims to help build lasting, sustainable livelihoods for the communities around the mines and ensure the natural world is protected.