A known photographer has decided to cease production of his range of elephant skin bags after outcry from the photography community. Some of the bags listed on his site would retail for up to $40,000.
Danish photographer Thorsten Overgaard is known not only for his photographic works, but also his writing and workshops. In recent years, he has partnered with Italian Designer Matteo Perin in order to produce luxury bags and suitcases. The price tag varies depending on the skin used, but listings show a purchase can set you back anywhere between $6,000 and $40,000.
Skin options include calf and crocodile, although Overgaard has caused the most upset through offering elephant skin. In response, he claims production of the bag actually helps preserve endangered species:
This specific bag is elephant hide from Zimbabwe, which is one of the countries that have a remarkable growth in population of Luxodonta africana elephants (84,000) within their reserves. The sale of hides from naturally deceased elephants goes into funding the reserves, the security, and veterinarians. The reserves feature 76 mammal and 650 bird species.
The legality of the bag has been called into question, although Overgaard insists the skin is only extracted from elephants who died of natural causes. Critics highlighted the rarity of elephant deaths, writing: “How many die naturally yearly? These are animals that live up to sixty years.”
Five days after the outcry erupted, Overgaard has now pulled the bags from sale and adopted an elephant in the process. Of his U-turn, he added: “I have decided it’s not something I will promote. I have changed my mind on this, as a result of researching this subject during the last week.”
Lead image credit: Pixabay user sasint, used under Creative Commons.