Nature speaks in a special way. But often we are not patient enough to pay attention to it. Says Shefiq Basheer Ahammed, Motor Vehicle Inspector turned nature photographer. The 44-year-old engineering graduate had even thought of quitting his job to pursue his twin passions of nature and photography. Then, he decided to take leave for three years to shoot wildlife.
“I like wildlife from my childhood. In a forest rich verdant trees reach towards the sky underneath which smaller ones spread their foliage. The undergrowth is thick with vines, shrubs, creepers of every variety. It is a dwelling place for many species of wild animals in its natural habitat. I like to be there always”. Shafiq says.
As a Pathanamthitta native, a district which is enriched with hills and forests, no doubt why he became an adorer of wildlife. His father and grandfather used to go to forests nearby, to collect resources. So he is not at all a stranger to the forest. ” I wished to have a camera of my own, at those times. But the circumstances didn’t permit me to buy one. So I used to take photos borrowing camera from others. When reached abroad, I approached photography seriously”.
From 1995 to 1999, he was working in Gulf as an oil field engineer. He used to go to Kenya for official purposes and didn’t miss the chance to take Kenyan wildlife photos. Now for ten years, he is a regular visitor of forests throughout the world.
“To me photography is a way to speak to people about the wonderful world of the wild, the need for it to be protected and the importance of nature conservation. Photography is not a profession, nor am into it for the money. I don’t believe that my pictures are perfect. But each one of them is an experience for me.
“No entry to the public in many wildlife centres. As a result of this, many are unaware of wildlife. So a wildlife photographer has a responsibility to let the people know about wildlife. We can’t predict the nature of a forest. Forest is for animals. We have to respect their nature and privacy. Then they never attack us. The entry to the forest is limited to only those who know the forest”.
Wielding his heavy Canon VII-D camera, Shefiq roamed almost all wildlife sanctuaries in India, the Masai Mara wildlife reserve in Kenya, and the Serengeti national park in Tanzania, Singapore, Philippines, China, Srilanka, Russia etc.
“I like Parambikkulam forest the most. It is one of the biodiversity hot spots in the world that supports diverse habitat types and endemism. Considering its biological richness, abundance of wildlife and landscape beauty makes Parambikulam Tiger Reserve one of the most attractive places in the entire stretch of Western Ghats. It was declared as the Tiger Reserve Centre. This sanctuary has a rich diversity of animal life.
“My other dream is Ladakh. The most wonderful and never forgettable experience I have had in my roaming was the visit to Kamchatka, a place shrouded in secrecy.
“Kamchatka is notable for the amazing diversity and abundance of its wildlife. Sable, ermine, Siberian bighorn (or snow) sheep, the Kamchatka brown bear, crab and, of course, salmon are all found in large quantities, although some species have become endangered due to over-fishing and hunting”.
Presently serving as a Motor Vehicle Inspector at Aluva, Shefiq finds time for frequent outings to the forests, sometimes with his wife and son.