National Geographic Photographer Forced To Let Nature Run Its Course As Buffalo Chokes On Coke Can

National Geographic Photographer Forced To Let Nature Run Its Course As Buffalo Chokes On Coke Can

KENYA—Photographer Ken Janson has worked for National Geographic photographing wildlife all over the world. As much as he may want to, he is not allowed to interfere with nature. He’s seen his fair share of lions wolfing down baby antelopes, camels trapped in quicksand, and beached whales flopping around. The most heartbreaking for him was the water buffalo he recently watched choke on an empty can of Coca-Cola in its natural habitat.

“This is just how nature works. It doesn’t follow the rules of human civilization and we have to respect that,” Janson says. Watching a duck be strangled by a plastic 6-pack ring is one thing, but something about the Coke can incident really stuck with him. “I wanted to help, but then I run the risk of choking on the can myself or upsetting the delicate balance of the ecosystem.”

This isn’t his first time feeling disillusioned by the cruelty of nature. He has bore witness to several species hunted to extinction by their natural predator: the poacher. He’s watched as coastal birds and turtles covered in crude oil fight for their lives. Ken’s even seen big cats absolutely decimated by land mines in the jungles of Vietnam. All unavoidable casualties in Mother Nature’s cruel circle of life. 

“You see its not like Disney’s Lion King would have you believe. Animals eat animals all the time, but where is the realism, ya know? Where are the deer being killed by their natural predator, the Jeep Grand Cherokee? I guess kids just aren’t ready to see the sheer indifference of natural forces on full display.”

The Coke can incident was enough for Ken to hang his hat and retire from nature photography. Now he spends his days taking pictures of human subjects, but they too fall prey to nature’s insidious, for lack of a better term, nature. “Today I’m taking pictures of some children who have rare brain cancer from the radiation poisoning from nuclear waste. Nature really is a cruel bitch sometimes.”

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