Hi, my name is Joshua Able, I am in my mid 40's, and am a wildlife photographer.
I grew up in rural upstate New York and from a young age was involved with and aware of our natural world, it was a benefit of having a biologist for a father.
Around 15 years ago I relocated to Reno NV. At this time I wasn't doing photography, I was just an average working guy, I mean, up till the recession I was a white collar insurance agent followed by a job at a mining laboratory. Along the way I got married and divorced, had no children and adopted 2 dogs.
2013 became a year of major changes for me. At this point I had a house outside of Reno and had 2 roommates who helped pay the bills. However it was a good sized house and even with a total of three dogs, it wasn't crowded since we all had lives and jobs.
January turned into a nightmare when I got hit by a vehicle and had to stay out of work for months with a leg issue.
While rehabbing and being out of work I started to get back into photography. Two trips to Yellowstone (1st in fall 2012 and the second in March 2013) had brought back a passion for wildlife that had been laying in the background for many years.
Eventually the doctors came to the decision that I needed a surgery. This happened in April and shortly afterwards I was back to the ER with a massive MERSA infection in my leg at the point of surgery.
Well, after some fear of having to LOSE MY LEG from the knee down, a second surgery happened followed by 12 days of IV antibiotics. Leg stayed on, and things got better.
So, one could think life was getting back on track. I'm back to work and also off taking pictures of wildlife on the weekends.
While I had been out of work and spending so much time at home with my leg elevated, I had come to the conclusion that it was time to simplify my life a bit and to that end I asked my roommates to move out. Lacee, a young woman, was fine with this, but asked to be allowed to stay a bit longer since she was almost finished with some classes she was taking, I agreed that it would be fine. The other roommate Rob wasn't as easy going, but I gave him 2 months and things seemed to be ok.
Moving day came on July 1st, and everything went wrong.
I was awoken at around 5:15 am by something hitting my head. At the time of the 6th blow I remember thinking, "I'm not in a fight, I'm being killed".
I managed to get free, I don't know how, I had been pinned under my blankets in my bed as the assault happened, I got outside and tried to awaken neighbors for assistance, the police made note of the blood trail I left going from house to house.
I lived, Lacee was killed and Rob is serving life in prison. I suffered skull fractures and assorted cuts. He had used a hatchet on my head and it seems he also tried to cut my throat. Some of you have seen my scars.
For better or worse not all scars and injuries were visible. After tests and visits over the next few months with my Neurologist & Psychologist I, not surprisingly, was diagnosed with actual brain damage along with PTSD and other fun issues.
About a month after being discharged from the hospital, and being cleared by my Neurosurgeon, I jumped in my car and went to Yellowstone.
Being on my own, away from people and watching wildlife has been healing for me and I desperately needed it. The world was often very dark, but nature and solitude are good medicine.
FAST FORWARD TO 2019
While I was in last in Africa I was lucky enough to be introduced to a wonderful lady by a mutual friend in the safari industry.
Nelly (Nelliah) and I really hit it off and proceeded to spend the next few months together, what had started as an interesting and enjoyable 1st date stretched into months and we discovered that we didn't want our time together to end.
Well, of course it did have to end since I had to head back to the US, however, we have stayed in constant communication and our feelings and desire for a future together has not wavered. To that end, we have decided that we will be married in late July or early August in Botswana this coming year.
Light has finally burst through the clouds which have shadowed my life for several years, ever since the horrors of 2013. My Nelly is the source of that light. I feel life flowing again and my desire to be a part of the world, instead of a mildly disinterested passenger, has come roaring back.
Nelly and I are working with Safari Operators in Botswana along with other regions of Africa, our future will be in both the US & Botswana (and truth be told, worldwide) Nelly and I will be involved in leading and arranging safari tours for people like you, and we will continue what I started and have done for years, taking pictures and advocating for our lands and wildlife around the world.
Thank you all,
Joshua Able & Nelly Batenegi