Photographing wild birds… The youth of the Arab world preserve biodiversity through the lenses of their cameras

During the past years, the Arab world has known a growing number of young people who are professional photographing wild birds. They are not environmental experts or biodiversity specialists, but they contribute greatly to preserving biodiversity and raising public awareness of the importance of the subject.

Some of them have been credited with discovering new species, and others have become a source for specialists in counting the number of birds, documenting their images and monitoring their movements.

In Egypt, the number of photographers has exceeded 100, and they were able to organize the second session of the exhibition of bird photos from January 12-16.

And to Algeria, where there are also dozens of photographers hunting pictures of birds in the jungle and remote areas.

Al Jazeera Net, I spoke with some wild bird photographers through the means of communication (Facebook) to monitor the growth of this phenomenon in the Arab world to talk about this profession, its adventures, their working conditions and their contributions to preserving biodiversity.

El-Shishtawy and Egyptian Photo Gallery

Ahmed El-Shishtawy is considered among the young photographers who have mastered the profession of photographing birds in particular and wild animals in general, and although he is new to photography, as he started it in 2018, he achieved great success and was the owner of the idea of ​​​​establishing the Egypt exhibition for photographing birds.

Says the shishtawi In a statement to Al Jazeera Net, “I participated in 2020 in a competition to photograph birds organized by the international organization BirdLife, and the prize was to grant me financial funding to organize a special exhibition of my photos in Cairo.”

He added, “But I proposed to the organization to organize an exhibition for all the photographers, and they agreed to that, and then the exhibition was organized in its first edition in December 2020, and about 55 photographers participated in it.”

Organized two copies of the exhibition of images of wild birds in Egypt (Al-Jazeera)

And because the first edition was a success, it was organized second version Recently, the period from 12 to 16 of this month, with the participation of about 100 photographers. About this success, Al-Shishtawi says, “The second edition of the exhibition was successful and witnessed a wider participation than the first and a great public turnout as well. Therefore, we are thinking of making this exhibition international and to be open to photographing not only birds, but all wild animals.”

El-Shishtawy affirms that photographing birds contributes a lot to introducing people to Egyptian birds, and to raising their awareness of the importance of biodiversity and how to preserve it.

He also says: Our job is to show these creatures to people and make them aware of their importance in nature and the need to preserve them. In Egypt, there are about 480 species of birds, and we have so far photographed about 350 species. Therefore, we have great work in the future because we are required to photograph all birds and document them with researchers specialized in diversity. Biology of birds.

Regarding the problems that hinder photographers in performing their work, El-Shishtawy said that all photographers personally cover their transportation expenses and purchase photographic equipment, which are considered expensive, “and therefore we are working to establish a national association to organize our activity and obtain the necessary funding.”

Photographers of Algeria discovered the white warwar and his name was not included in the list of birds (Al-Jazeera)

Photographing the birds of Algeria..prospects and challenges

In Algeria, the field of wild bird photography attracts many young people who have taken upon themselves this task and documented their presence in various regions, contributing to this with researchers specialized in biodiversity by counting birds and perhaps discovering some new species or taking exclusive photos for the first time.

Among these young people Walid Sokou From the Jijel region, located east of the capital, Algiers, and it is one of the green areas rich in biodiversity, which had a significant impact on his orientation towards photography.

He says, “I started photographing birds in 2016, and our number today is estimated at dozens, each of us works at the level of his region, and we organize from time to time field tours with our own capabilities, the last of which was in the state of Ain Guezzam in the Algerian desert, where we photographed birds of the far south, such as the Golden League bird. We don’t have an association so we formed group on facebook We exchange pictures and information, which is very useful.”

Regarding the importance of what they are doing in preserving biological diversity and also helping specialized scientific researchers to provide them with pictures, Soko said that the group had recently been credited with discovering a new species of bird whose name was not included in the list of birds, the white warwar.

The pendulum tickle was discovered by the photographers of Algeria in the state of Jijel in 2019 (Al Jazeera)

He explained, “The list of birds in Algeria included two types of European and Persian warwar, and recently we discovered the presence of the white that lives only in the desert, where it does not exceed the borders of Biskra province.”

He added, “We were also able to discover a bird of prey in the state of Batna called the sunset falcon, and the pendulum tit, which we discovered in the state of Jijel in 2019. In total, we enriched the list of Algerian birds with about 30 new species, as it included about 402 and today it counts 430 species.”

According to the same spokesman, the list of Algerian birds is distinguished by an endemic type that we find only in this country, which is the Kabyle nut that lives in the Kabylie region, and about him he says, “The tribal nut was discovered in Algeria in 1975 in the Babur Mountains in the state of Setif, and recently it was seen in the forests of Jijel state. Bejaia, which is an endemic species that we can only find in Algeria, and this is considered rich because there are countries that do not have endemic birds.”

Palestinian Tamir filmed by Jordanian photographer Rasem Al Kilani (Al Jazeera)

Jordan.. Ongoing field work

The situation in the Kingdom of Jordan is not much different from other countries. Photographers, and in the absence of an association that includes them, still photographers of wild birds meet in the blue space to exchange information and share their latest photos.

Photographers still rely on financing their field tours and purchasing photographic equipment on their own capabilities, which was confirmed by Al Jazeera Net, the photographer. Rasem Kilani He said, “We take trips from time to time to various regions, during which we take pictures and share with the local people what we know about biodiversity and birds in particular, but all at the expense of our own capabilities.”

Kilani confirms that the field of bird photography, which has become widely known in the Arab world and attracts many young people to it, has contributed a lot to spreading awareness among people. In order to reduce overfishing, which is one of the main factors in the disappearance of some species.”

This photographer managed to create Online application It can also be downloaded on mobile phones to introduce the birds of Jordan, their shapes and types, and today it includes about 100 birds, and is waiting for the addition of new species and about it, where he says, “The idea is to facilitate access to information for everyone who wants to know the types of Jordan’s birds, as it is a door to knowledge and the dissemination of scientific culture “.

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