These Harrowing Photographs Depict East Africa's Dystopian Future

By Maddie Stone on at

Africa is one of the last great holdouts for charismatic megafauna. But as the human population continues to grow and industrialise, lions, zebras, and elephants are being edged out of existence. A harrowing new series by photographer Nick Brandt makes this transformation visceral.

In Inherit the Dust, Brandt juxtaposes the factories and urban wastelands spreading across East Africa with life-sized portraits of animals that once lived there. The images are not Photoshop tricks, but rather, the photographer created the installations during an extensive four-month travel campaign. From a chimpanzee resting in a dusty alleyway to rhinos trampling through rubbish heaps, the series has a tragic beauty that transcends cultural boundaries, cutting to the heart of what it means to live at the dawn of the Anthropocene. It’s a call to action to preserve the planet’s remaining megafauna; the vestiges of a planetary heritage which once existed across Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Americas.

“Mainly, it’s about all of us,” Brandt writes in an accompanying Inherit the Dust photobook, which is now available for purchase. “Significantly, it’s about the terrifying number of us, and the impact of the very finite amount of space and resources for so many humans.”

Courtesy of Brandt, we’ve shared a few of the series’ stunning photographs below. More of Brandt’s work can be found here. Inherit the Dust exhibitions will take place through April and May in Los Angeles, London, Berlin, Paris, and Stockholm.


These Harrowing Photographs Depict East Africa's Dystopian Future
‘Alleyway With Chimpanzee’
These Harrowing Photographs Depict East Africa's Dystopian Future
‘Factory With Chimpanzee’
These Harrowing Photographs Depict East Africa's Dystopian Future
‘Factory With Rhino’
These Harrowing Photographs Depict East Africa's Dystopian Future
‘Quarry With Lion’
These Harrowing Photographs Depict East Africa's Dystopian Future
‘Road to Factory With Zebra’
These Harrowing Photographs Depict East Africa's Dystopian Future
‘Road With Elephant’
These Harrowing Photographs Depict East Africa's Dystopian Future
‘Underpass With Elephants’
These Harrowing Photographs Depict East Africa's Dystopian Future
‘Underpass With Rhino and Egret’
These Harrowing Photographs Depict East Africa's Dystopian Future
‘Wasteland With Cheetahs and Children’
These Harrowing Photographs Depict East Africa's Dystopian Future
‘Wasteland With Elephant’
These Harrowing Photographs Depict East Africa's Dystopian Future
A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Brandt’s ‘Wasteland With Elephant’ image.
These Harrowing Photographs Depict East Africa's Dystopian Future
A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Brandt’s ‘Wasteland With Elephant’ image.
These Harrowing Photographs Depict East Africa's Dystopian Future
‘Wasteland With Lion’
These Harrowing Photographs Depict East Africa's Dystopian Future
‘Wasteland With Rhinos’