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     Volume 4 Issue 76 | December 23, 2005|

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Showcasing Nature through Photos

Hana Shams Ahmed

Want to know how honey is collected in the Sundarbans? Curious about conservation issues around the country? Need some tips on how to take the best photographs of the different faces of nature? These, and a host of other wildlife topics are dealt with in detail with flawless photographs in the first issue of the new quarterly Prakriti Photo magazine.

The Prakriti Photo magazine, the first of its kind in the country is published by Prakriti Foundation. The Prakriti Foundation, established in May 2003, is a non-profit organisation, which aims to raise awareness (nationally and internationally) about environmental and wildlife concerns of the country. The magazine is a big step in this regard. With larger-than-life pictures and accompanying information it is not only the naturalists and conservationists who will be interested, laypersons who everyday contribute in a big way towards depleting our natural resources might have to think twice before they go out and deface nature. The founder of the Prakriti Foundation and a professional photographer for over four decades, Syed Noor Hossain, who besides giving his entire voluntary effort towards the magazine has contributed many of the pictures and talked about his experiences both home and abroad.

The first issue of the magazine focuses its cover story on the capped langur, an arboreal primate, which lives on the Sal Forests of Madhupur. The capped langur, which once reigned free in both the Madhupur National Forest and the Bhawal National Forest, is now near to extinction as the greedy developers have been felling the sal trees indiscriminately and replacing them with banana plantations. The Prakriti Foundation has published a poster and a greeting card with the capped langur's photo to acquaint people with this predicament. Hossain, who is an avid nature photographer says that it is a shame that the people of the country are so indifferent about the flora and fauna of the country. "I went to Brazil and saw that people from all over the world were coming over to see the golden lion tamarin of Brazil, on the other hand, the capped langur which is similar to its Brazilian counterpart is on its way to extinction and most people of the country have not even heard of it," said Hossain.

Although the first issue of the magazine has an excellent array of write-ups and pictures,

A mowali cutting a beehive from a tree

it failed to attract a large number of readers. "Everyone thinks that the price of the magazine is too high. But if we try to reduce the price, we have to compromise the quality of the magazine. But since this is a photo magazine it's essential that we give the best quality paper," added Hossain.

A section of the magazine is dedicated to raising awareness about nature among young people. In this issue, a young O-level candidate takes the reader on a photo journey of the botanical gardens in Dhaka, which at one time used to be a beautiful place to take a stroll with the backdrop of nature in all its glory, now distraught with neglect and disinterest. Hossain says that not many people are interested in nature photography, as it does not pay well as other professions do. "We have to open up more areas for young people to work in. We should have more calendars with photographs of beautiful places of the country. Our magazine is a very small start but we are confident that once more people start to show interest and we get more advertisements and sponsors we will be able to pay the photographers very well, and more people will start to come forward with more photos", says Hossain. He also takes free photography classes where he encourages his students to take up nature photography to promote conservation and wildlife preservation.

An internet site is being developed at the moment to put the magazine and the foundations other activities on the world-wide web. Hossain hopes that exposing the Bangladeshi community abroad to these photos will raise an interest in them to visit their home country and also contribute to the conservation of our wildlife. Barnes and Noble, have given Prakriti Photo the thumbs-up and agreed to distribute it across bookstores in the US and Canada. Unfortunately, the Prakriti Photo team is still not on solid ground as

The best angle of taking photos of trees

they have not received many articles and photo essay contributions to continue on a regular basis. It may be mentioned here that the Prakriti Photo team is working in a completely voluntary basis. The next issue of the magazine was set to come out in January but again they faced limitations as the articles were not submitted on time.

In 'Vanishing Landscapes' Noor Hossain's photo essays exposes the reader to beautiful places that once existed in Dhaka, but now have been taken over by real-estate developers to make way for multi-storied apartments. In the next issue, pictures of disappearing urban wildlife will showcase the disappearance of birds and wild animals that was once an everyday sighting in Dhaka's many parks and gardens. But now, when the sanctuaries themselves are disappearing, these animals are slowly making way for the

urban jungle of apartments and offices. "It's really sad that the children these days have to stay stuck at home with their computers and other gadgets. When we were children we were so lucky to have the parks and fields were we could stretch our legs and enjoy life," continues Hossain, "I think people will be interested in nature conservation when they think about what they are doing to their children."

Ismat Jahan, who has graduated in professional photography from New York Institute of Photography gives readers tips on how to take photos of trees from different angles and at different times of the day. All in all, a very valiant effort by the foundation, whether the public will appreciate the effort and the magazine will succeed in its aim to raise awareness among the common people is a question only time will be able to answer.

Photo Courtesy: Prakriti Photo


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