Hidden Art in T&T’s Bush
by: Adana Mahase-Gibson.
An edited version was published in the Trinidad Express, 13th April 2017
Photographing T&T’s nature through the eyes of Faraaz Abdool.
Even after a lifetime spent crawling around in the bush I am still in awe of the fascinating creatures we who share our planet. My encounters have been wild and memorable. However, most of them are just memories. Sometimes I remember to take a photo during my adventures. I get a blurry dot in the distance of a bird or of a lizard running away. I proudly display my dot and spend time convincing my friends, yep it’s a bird. Nature photography is an art form. I’m no artist.
Enter Faraaz Abdool. You may know his nature photography. His work has appeared on nature calendars and been featured on BBC Earth. The man behind the lens has many sides, much like his photography subjects. His models are unique and stunningly beautiful but can be elusive. Their stories, their triumphs, challenges and struggles, can only be captured and told by someone who is passionate and knowledgeable.
Story behind the photo
Thanks to the internet it is easy to find a spectacular nature shot. But to get that perfect shot requires talent, patience, skill and at times, literal blood, sweat and tears. For Faraaz, his subjects require him to move to the beat of their drum. Tracking birds and other animals has taken him to the heights of the Northern Range, crawling through swamps, swinging from trees, and being bitten by mosquitoes. It often means not being able to move or scratch for hours upon hours.
Faraaz has had his patience and respect for the wild rewarded in unexpected ways. One of his favourite Trinbagonian wildlife stories involved tracking an elusive bird called a Black-faced Antthrush in the Northern Range. He followed its call up a hill but the antthrush proved elusive. He continued his ascent and encountered what initially looked like a small dog. Not wanting to disturb it, Faraaz shuffled into the bushes and lay flat on his stomach. Turns out it was not a dog but a Southern Tamandua, also known as a Lesser Anteater or Matapal, seen by very few in the wild. The creature took no notice of him, continued foraging, and ultimately walked directly towards him gifting him with one of his all time favourite images.
Why does he do it?
Faraaz is a man of many talents. Apart from being a gifted photographer he is a teacher, an electrical engineer and plays bass guitar for the Trinidadian progressive rock band Spectral Vibes. His passion for T&T’s environment inspired him to focus his efforts on wildlife and nature photography. He explained his foray into T&T’s nature scene. He began by trying to identify one bird, only to find an astounding list of almost 500 avian species in T&T. Once he got a sniff of our biodiversity, he was hooked.
He also sees first hand the fragility of our wildlife and the threats they face. “My job as a nature and wildlife photographer is to open people’s eyes. Let it be known that the animals have lives just as we have ours. They too, need to survive, find food and shelter. Once I can affect change in one person then my work is already done. If I can get us to be more ecologically responsible as a people, then my purpose has been fulfilled. Too many of us take from nature and neglect to give back, and from where I see it, people don’t give back because they don’t care to. They don’t care to because they just don’t know what’s out there. I believe that I have a gift of seeing the personalities and characters of animals, big or small, and others need to see what I see.”
Faraaz believes that as globally many species are being threatened, there is no better time to be a wildlife photographer. He feels this is his chance to make a positive change to help the creatures that have fascinated him since he was a child.
Check out his jaw dropping photography, blog and other work at www.faraazabdool.com or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Writer: Dr. Adana Mahase-Gibson is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and a Project Management Professional (PMP). She works on Ecohealth/One Health issues to improve the health of people, animals and the environment. Email: email@example.com
Photo caption: Southern Tamandua or Matapal