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Conservation Photography -- Going Beyond the Pretty Picture


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There are probably more amateur nature photographers in India than in any other developing country in the world. India has tens of thousands of wildlife photographers, some of who routinely produce the kind of jaw-dropping images that were once the exclusive preserve of magazines like National Geographic or Geo. While this is something to be proud of, the question we are asking today is, “is it time for India’s wildlife photographers to look beyond the pretty picture?”

This is a presentation I gave at the recently concluded Doon Valley Spring Bird Festival 2016, Uttarakhand held at the Asan Barrage Wetlands between 11th to 14th February.

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Conservation Photography -- Going Beyond the Pretty Picture

  1. 1. Conservation Photography Ramki Sreenivasan Conservation India
  2. 2. Conservation Photography • Understand • Take • Use
  3. 3. What is it?
  4. 4. What it is not
  5. 5. Not photography for photography’s sake Photo: Ramki Sreenivasan
  6. 6. It is not about winning awards!
  7. 7. No likes!
  8. 8. Going beyond the pretty picture Photo: Ramki Sreenivasan
  9. 9. So what is it?
  10. 10. Offshoot of nature photography but it is born out of “purpose” Photo: Aditya Panda
  11. 11. Conservation photography is photography that empowers conservation Photo: Vimal Raj
  12. 12. Everyone can be a conservation photographer Photo: Shashank Dalvi
  13. 13. Need to be sensitive to conservation issues Photo: Anon
  14. 14. Passion to bring about change through your images Photo: TRAFFIC-India
  15. 15. Don’t need fancy equipment Photo: Canon USA
  16. 16. What you can do starting today?
  17. 17. What you can do starting today? • Document specific issues • Clearly capture the "threat" • Tell stories: • Area specific • Issue specific • Give powerful factual captions • Seek advice on actioning them – report / complain to forest dept, local NGOs, media, make petitions, etc.
  18. 18. Conservation photography examples • Habitat destruction or fragmentation — from tree-felling to a full- blown hydroelectric project • Any construction activity inside a protected area • Any commercial activity in ecologically sensitive zones (ESZs) • Tree-felling in protected areas and reserve forests • Roads that have sprung up inside or near a protected area • Road & railway kills • Forest fires
  19. 19. Conservation photography examples • Livestock (cattle / goats) inside protected areas • Evidence of poaching / crime – snares, traps, killing, poachers, etc. • Wildlife kept as pets • Tourism and its impacts • Encroachments • Man-animal conflict, human threats to wildlife, domestic dogs • Plight of endangered animals
  20. 20. Examples
  21. 21. Big tourism projects destroy habitat and block wildlife corridors Photo: Akarsha BM / WildCat-C
  22. 22. Man-made linear intrusions have many detrimental ecological effects Photo: NCF
  23. 23. Images of habitat destruction in protected areas is vital evidence for illegal activity Photo: Shekar Dattatri
  24. 24. Coal mining in prime tiger habitat outside Tadoba tiger reserve Photo: Greenpeace
  25. 25. Sarus Cranes in the backdrop of massive construction in Delhi — losing wetland habitat everyday Photo: Delhibird
  26. 26. Lakes suffer from poor protection across India and is exploited for encroachment / development Photo: Vishwatej Pawar
  27. 27. Windmills in grasslands and plateaus have come up across India hindering flight paths of birds Photo: Aparna Watve
  28. 28. Including India’s rarest bird Photo: Nirav Bhat
  29. 29. Destruction of grassland by ‘planting trees’ in Hesaraghatta. This issue is now in the Karnataka High Court thanks to a PIL Photo: Ramki Sreenivasan
  30. 30. This illegal tree cutting operation was documented by a birding group in Namdapha Tiger Reserve Photo: Bano Haralu
  31. 31. Road-widening projects through PAs without clearances Photo: Suresh G
  32. 32. Roads without proper clearances constantly come up in PAs or ESZs Photo: Anon
  33. 33. Roadkills are a serious conservation threat – a pregnant blackbuck killed by a speeding vehicle in Maharashtra Photo: Adwait Keole
  34. 34. The danger of urban roads – here a dead leopard killed by a speeding vehicle on NICE road, Bangalore Photo: Deccan Herald
  35. 35. An elephant calf mowed down in Bandipur. Images like these were used to lobby for several highway closures in Karnataka and other states Image: Deccan Herald
  36. 36. A dead sambhar on an Odisha highway. Roads are upgraded without need and the first victims are usually wildlife Photo: Bivash Pandav
  37. 37. Small animals die too like this Slender Loris in the Western Ghats Photo: NCF
  38. 38. Shy and elusive creatures are more often seen in roadkills (and markets) Photo: Dr. Pramod Patil
  39. 39. Railway tracks also pose a significant conservation threat. Photo: Giri Cavale
  40. 40. Every kind of animal have been killed on Indian tracks. Photo: Giri Cavale
  41. 41. Animals in human habitation – a fragile “coexistence” Photo: M. Ananda Kumar
  42. 42. Olive Ridley Turtles killed in fishing nets Photo: Bivash Pandav
  43. 43. Village dogs and turtles – yet another threat for nesting Olive Ridley Turtles in the Odisha coast Photo: Sumit Sen
  44. 44. The dangers of feral dogs range from competing with wild predators to spreading deadly diseases Photo: Vickey Chauhan
  45. 45. The dangers of feral dogs range from competing with wild predators to spreading deadly diseases Photo: Jayanth Sharma
  46. 46. A Wild dog with a plastic bottle demonstrates littering by tourists – a serious fall-out of tourism Photo: Mahesh Bhat
  47. 47. Critically endangered bustards hiding from tourists in Nannaj, Maharashtra Photo: Dhritiman Mukherjee
  48. 48. Photo: Ponnambalam
  49. 49. Same story. Different location. Tourists and wildlife guides on foot in Kaziranga Photo: Leio D’Souza
  50. 50. Fragmentation affects endangered animals. This LTM shows the plight of a once arboreal troupe Photo: Ramki Sreenivasan
  51. 51. Agriculture is another significant threat to wildlife – in this case to the endangered Wild Ass in the little Rann of Kutch Photo: Nirav Bhat
  52. 52. The endangered Lesser Florican displaying in agricultural fields in Saunkhaliya grasslands, Rajasthan Photo: Gobind Sagar Bharadwaj
  53. 53. A stark contrast between protected and unprotected areas in Bandipur Tiger Reserve separated by the park boundary Photo: Shekar Dattatri
  54. 54. Full-fledged farming Inside the heart of Simlipal – one of India’s largest tiger reserves Photo: Ramki Sreenivasan
  55. 55. Pushed to the brink in human-dominated landscapes – critically endangered Gharials on the Chambal Photo: Aditya Singh
  56. 56. Temples and religious festivities inside PAs are big threats to wildlife Photo: Suraj Kumaar
  57. 57. Human-tiger conflict – cattle-lifter tigers were poisoned by villagers in retaliation in Ranthambore. Photo: Aditya Singh
  58. 58. The typical end to a ‘conflict’ leopard – tranquilized and sent to a zoo or re-released to cause ‘conflict’ elsewhere Photo: Vidya Athreya
  59. 59. More conflict – crop-raiding elephants in the plains of Karnataka Photo: Shankara
  60. 60. An electrocuted elephant is usually the result of conflict and habitat fragmentation due to plantations Photo: WCS-India
  61. 61. An electrocuted elephant due to low hanging powerline in Kaziranga. Photo: Sanesh Kadur
  62. 62. Elephant taunting became a sport in Coimbatore forests. This photographer created a campaign that stopped it Photo: Sreedhar Vijayakrishnan
  63. 63. This shocking cellphone image of a frenzied mob setting a captured leopard on fire Photo: Belinda Wright
  64. 64. Large carnivores in human-dominated landscapes Photo: Dharmendra Khandal
  65. 65. A freshly killed Grey-sided Thrush shows the sorry state of hunting in Nagaland Photo: Ramki Sreenivasan
  66. 66. A shocking image of freshly skinned Amur Falcons in Doyang, Nagaland. Lakhs were being hunted annually Photo: Ramki Sreenivasan
  67. 67. Image retrieved from an arrested poaching gang in Desert National Park in Rajasthan showing freshly hunted bustards Photo: Rajasthan Forest Dept.
  68. 68. Sometimes multiple images tell a story better. Here are images of bird trapping in Murlen, Mizoram Photo: Ramki Sreenivasan
  69. 69. Birdwatchers helped nab waterfowl poachers in Siruthavur near Chennai Photo: Samyak Kaninde
  70. 70. Pelican poaching reported from Kanva dam, Channapatna Photo: Seshadri KS
  71. 71. Illegally captured parakeet chicks seized in Palamau tiger reserve, Jharkhand. They were on the way to markets Image: Aditya Panda
  72. 72. This is the only record of a Blue Pitta in India – taken in a market in Arunachal Pradesh Photo: Rita Banerji / Dusty Foot
  73. 73. A pet Slow Loris in Mokakchung, Nagaland. Most villagers weren’t aware that keeping wildlife as pets was illegal. Photo: Nagaland Biodiversity Project
  74. 74. A captive giant squirrel in a coffee estate. The FD was alerted and hopefully the squirrel is now free. Photo: Amoghavarsha
  75. 75. This photographer helped bust a turtle and terrapin trade in Raichur, Karnataka Photo: Santosh Martin
  76. 76. Local markets are a source of illegal bushmeat. Here a Loris is for sale for Rs. 500 Photo: Alka Vaidya
  77. 77. A Clouded Leopard Skin Hangs in a Naga Kitchen Photo: Sandesh Kadur
  78. 78. Cattle grazing in protected areas, Satkosia Tiger Reserve, Odisha Photo: Aditya Panda
  79. 79. The daily plight of forest personnel at the frontline of conservation Photo: Jayanth Sharma
  80. 80. Thanks!