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NIKHIL VARMA
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MEET D.K. Bhaskar, whose book documents the Amazon over six years

LEARNING Of man-animal conflict photo: Bhagya Prakash K
LEARNING Of man-animal conflict photo: Bhagya Prakash K

I t is one of the planet's largest rainforests, home to millions of plant and animal species and a subject of fascination with tourists and explorers alike. Photographer D.K. Bhaskar, who has been working in the Amazon for six years decided to write a book “The Fragile Forest: Inside Brazilian Amazonia” on the rainforest.

The book comprises more than 160 colour photographs and serves as an introduction to the Amazon Basin and its people and cultures. The idea of the book germinated six years ago, when Bhaskar was on an expedition in the forests of the Western Ghats and met another explorer.

“We talked about wildlife, the flora and fauna of the region etc. He invited me to visit the Amazon basin, where he was involved in research projects. As a photographer, I felt it was an excellent opportunity to hone my skills in the massive rainforest that is so important to the ecosystem of the planet. This book is actually a tabulation of six years of work in the Amazon.

“It helps a great deal to work with researchers and explorers since they know the local conditions, plant and animal species in great detail. The Amazon spans many regions. I learnt that the eco system was very delicate. The recent deforestation and mining activities in some sections of the rainforest are responsible for an increase in parasites such as mosquitoes and man-animal conflict.”

On the rationale behind the book, he says, “I decided to author a book with pictures of the Amazon forest to ensure that our future generations have a glimpse of nature in its purest and freshest form. I hope the book will evince more interest from researchers and would ensure that many species are not extinct even before being discovered.”

Of the many pictures he took in the rainforest, the one he holds most dear is that of a small girl emerging from what seemed like a puddle at the mouth of the Amazon river. “It was early morning and my old camera had only three reels left. I was walking along the embankment of the river and noticed a large puddle. I was just observing it when suddenly a small child put her head out of the water. It was a magical moment. I thought it was a mermaid initially.

“The animals are very shy and usually never come out in the open. The vegetation on the forest floor is so thick that you may not notice an animal barely 100 feet away. Researchers spent many trips and countless hours waiting to spot the animals. One of my best shots was when I managed to capture a jaguar on camera — an animal which often eludes researchers working in the field for more than 30 years.”

The love and respect that the locals have for the forest has impressed Bhaskar a great deal. “They consider the forest as a part of their family and enjoy a give and take relationship with it. They understand it much better than even many researchers.”

NIKHIL VARMA

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