Click on the play button to listen to the sounds of nature while you read the blog

Another month was spent in the house as the lockdown continues and the COVID cases slowly come down. A lot of news to take in of friends and families suffering from the virus. The wishful thinking of life going back to normalcy gets a push back as it is dictated by how people follow the protocol, mask up, maintain social distance, meet people when necessary, and yes vaccination.

The vaccine is still a rarity as the government hasn’t been able to scale up the program due to the lack of supply. The only wish I have for now is us getting the strength to follow the protocols and be safe to avoid having another wave of infections in October in Nepal as it is predicted for India.

Wildlife from the window

June and the start of the monsoon mean that the colors nature radiates become magical. The winter/summer foliage that was covered in dust is being washed clean by the rain. Flowers are popping out of the green hues. Nature is at its best when the colors are presented in it’s purest form.

Songbirds are singing early in the morning as the first light illuminates the horizon, complemented by the sound of the raindrops falling on the leaves. As I scan the Pear tree nearby I find a Spotted Dove taking a nap, shaded by the branch above it. Whenever another bird landed on the tree, the dove would look around to see if everything was safe and, went back to sleep.

Spotted dove napping

Oriental Magpie Robins sang from the Lantana bush while the Asian Koel could be heard far in the distance. A Common Tailorbird silently navigates through the bushes foraging as it moves around. Wondering why the silence was answered by a loud cheeup-cheeup-cheeup.

 Rose-ringed Parakeets flocked around the Pear tree as well and were not silent eaters. Squawking and holding the pear in one leg they opened up the tough skin easily with their beak and nibbled the fruit while reacting to the presence of another friend from the flock. A male parakeet would tease the female by pulling on its tail as she turned her back and concentrated on eating the Pear. Her reaction to the tug would resonate with some sharp keeak to which the male would bob its head.

Parakeet feeding

As the Parakeet left a Coppersmith Barbet starts exploring the tree and feeds on the open fruits that were left by the Parakeets. Other birds like the Red-vented Bulbul and the Myna would also forage on the open fruits.

Observing the surrounding I find a couple of Jungle Myna feeding a juvenile with berries from the Lantana plant. Red-vented Bulbuls were chasing each other from tree to tree which sounded more like a commotion. A couple of Eurasian Tree Sparrow were busy cleaning themselves on a tree branch while the Oriental Magpie Robbin navigated its way among the Lantana bush.

Magpie robbin looking

I step outside from my window towards the balcony where I spot a pair of Black Dorongo chasing what seemed like a Kestral. I remember my experience from last year in Ichangu where the Black Dorongo was chasing a Black Kite. Highly territorial and very aggressive when it comes to defending their nest they don’t hesitate to chase big birds like crows and kites. Due to this behavior, small birds also nest around the area where Dorongo has its nest.

The month was also dictated by the calls from the Eurasian Cuckoo as they would perch high on the bamboo. Finding it down near the bush at eye level was a pretty good find. Watching its behavior and documenting it was interesting.

As the sun would peek out of the clouds a Red-breast Jezebel buttery flew around the flowers of the Lantana bush. Occasionally, I would also spot some Common Five-ring butterflies in the bush. Back in the small world, the usual insects were busy in their activities like the Lynx Spider stalking its prey, Carpenter Ants defending the colony and, Sweat Bees searching for nectar. Neon Bees were also on their daily routine of visiting every flower in the vicinity.  

As June ends my summary of the flora and fauna doesn’t seem as good as that of the “What I Saw – March” edition but still a good collection considering the lockdown.

Rose-ringed Parakeet, Spotted Dove, Black Kite, Oriental Magpie Robin, White-eye, Coppersmith Barbet, Common Tailorbird, Barn Swallow, Asian Koel, Red-vented Bulbul, House Crow, Jungle Myna, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Eurasian Cuckoo, etc.

Red-breast Jezebel, Moths, Sweat Bees, Neon Cockoo Bees, Leaf Hoppers, Ladybugs, Carpenter Ants, Common Five-ring, Lynx Spider, etc.

Pear (Naspati), Basil, Lantana.

Weed foilage

Ethics in wildlife photography

Wildlife: animals and plants that grow independently of people, usually in natural conditions (Cambridge dictionary),
Wildlife traditionally refers to undomesticated animal species but has come to include all organisms that grow or live wild in an area without being introduced by humans. (Wikipedia)

Wildlife photography for me is an art of capturing the natural moments displayed by the flora and fauna in an environment, not under the control of a human being.

There have been a lot of talks when it comes to wildlife photography and recently it involved ethics in this genre of photography. It is encouraging to see the increase in people getting interested in wildlife photography. This positive increase helps spread the message of how diverse the world is. With the changing world and the destruction of biodiversity, documentation has been ever so important. The instant global reach of information helps spread the message of conservation.

On the other side, with the ease in the spread of information and, the global trend towards viral content, wildlife photography hasn’t been able to remain untouched as well. There are a lot of instances where we forget the ethics and document the next viral content to have a good reach in social media.

Generally in wildlife photography, ethics in the field hovers around not harming and influencing the flora/fauna and its habitat. Following the law stated out by the government is also crucial. Touching the subject you’re taking a photograph of is not good. In macro photography, this is also relevant as the behavior of the insect isn’t predictable. Moving the subject to a different place to photograph can harm the subject. If the place is changed then it is advised that you return it to the place it was found.

While editing or, on the publishing front being honest about your work also plays a significant role. For a wildlife photographer learning never stops as the subject we tend to take pictures of does not care about our passion or goal. We have to document them in their terms and conditions. Ticking off the bucket list of the wildlife to photograph is all well and good until and unless it falls inside the line of being done ethically.

Wildlife clubs or, any other pages online or print media should be careful when sharing content related to nature. A recent post by a page of two Green tree frogs sitting together under a flower avoiding the rain showed how normal people loved the reaction of the frog not knowing that the behavior showed was staged by the photographer.

Even though the page later edited the caption, the harm was done as people already had comments like “Now that’s love I don’t care what anyone says. Just Beautiful.” There are a series of articles that describe the way these photos are taken, like using wires, freezing the subject and, other unethical techniques that stress the subject and can lead to death as well.  

Baiting birds and animals for photography has also been a problem. Giving food and luring the wildlife for a photo opportunity can alter the habit of the subject. Animals starting to link humans to an easy source of food is not a good thing. Foodborne disease can also be a problem for the animals that are used to feeding naturally.    

Maintaining an ethical standard helps on mitigating mistakes in future exploration. Showcasing the natural diversity through wildlife photography is very crucial in helping people understand the need for conservation. We won’t be negatively impacting nature if we can maintain a moral ground while documenting it. Learning from the previous mistakes or, the ones others have made is a good way to elevate our skill in documenting nature and its subjects ethically.   

Ajay Narsingh Rana

Below are examples of the unethical practices that go on wildlife photography.

When whimsical wildlife photography isn’t what it seems

The Ugly Side of Wildlife Photography

‘There’s a lot of fakery’: insiders spill on the dirty tricks behind wildlife photos – The Guardian

Leopard photograph ignites ethics debate on wildlife photography