Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Conveying conservation messages through photos

Wildlife Photographer and videographer, Stephen Hogg (R) in discussion at the Sg Ingei basecamp, with WWF Special Adviser to the HoB project Dato' Dr Mikaail Kavanagh (L) during the second phase of the Sg Ingei Faunal Biodiversity Survey. Picture: BT file
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
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PHOTOGRAPHS and videos can help foster a sense of responsibility in order to spur the local community to take part in preserving Brunei's rainforests and rich biodiversity.

Professional photographer-cum-videographer Stephen Hogg, who was invited by a scientific team from the Universiti Brunei Darussalam to join the two-year Sg Ingei faunal biodiversity survey expedition said that photographs can convey the importance of environmental preservation and conservation.

Hogg has been documenting the team's research work since the expedition started on July 2, 2010.

"To fall in love with something, you need to see it. By falling in love with something, you will believe in it and want to save it, protect and want to help it. The only way you can do that is through visuals," he said in an interview with The Brunei Times.

"How can you make them feel the same way that you feel? How would you be able to demonstrate to them what is so great about this place? Without pictures, it would be very difficult," he added.

"Pictures are very important. The captions of these photographs can help explain to a stranger what it really is."

The trip which took place last month, saw participation of Minister of Industry and Primary Resources Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Hj Yahya Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka HjBakar, WWF special adviser to the Heart of Borneo Dato' Dr Mikaail Kavanagh, British High Commissioner to Brunei Rob Fenn, Singapore High Commissioner to Brunei Joseph Koh, as well as Australian High Commissioner to Brunei His Excellency Mark Sawers.

During the interview, Hogg said that the second best way to promote environmental preservation was through video.

He added, however, that taking footages required funding.

Hogg was all praises for the team that is conducting the Sg Ingei expedition, saying: "So many pristine places around the world had been spoilt because people had not stood up and took action. Here in Brunei, a small country, you have a group of people standing up and taking action to preserve this area. We must take our hats off for these people."

"It is better if I can show this through my photographs," Hogg added.

The fact that the government is heavily supporting the expedition, he said, means there is a good chance that the area would continue to be protected.

"We find a lot of things in this forest that we did not expect to find, (though it is) not necessarily new from my perspective. We found tarantula spiders in places I did not expect to find. We normally find them in embankments, but here we found them on forest floor. There are also an abundance of insects and plants," he noted.

He also said that the photographs he took during the expedition "just scratched the surface of the biodiversity of Sg Ingei".

Hogg admitted that while Sg Ingei was "a fantastic place", it is "photographically difficult".

"The birds are almost impossible to shoot, I got one or two species, not a huge amount. But the (photos from) camera traps we build are quite good, it shows diversity of mammals and birds."

The photographer said for the trip (last month) he focused on photographing smaller insects, fungi, plants and orchids.

"For this trip I am trying to get pictures of things that I have missed. I have lots of photographs of scientists doing their work, results of the scientists' works, landscape and scenery. When I went through the photographs I noticed that I did not spend enough time on insects. So, this trip I am concentrating on that," he said. The Brunei Times

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