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Tariq Sulemani – The Man Who’s Trying To Save Pakistan’s Dying Birds Through His Lens

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Tariq Hameed Sulemani is a renowned wildlife photographer, who picked up his camera years ago only to capture the beauty of the most beautiful birds in Pakistan. 

Tariq Hameed Sulemani was born and raised in a small town near Multan, called Jahanian, to a family of hakeems (alternative medicine practitioners). Sulemani is said to have spend hours and hours tracking the wildlife in the lush green fields and the canal around his hometown. His love for nature would urge him to visit Gilgit-Baltistan for hiking and tracking.

About his old days he recalled:

“I had an ordinary point-and-shoot camera, which I would put in my backpack before starting a track. Over time, I realized the importance of shooting the mesmerizing scenic beauty.”

Eventually, Sulemani had bought his own professional equipment in order to pursue his hobby as a full-time passion. Sulemani has held 12 solo shows in various countries thus far, which includes,  UK, Sweden, the US, Czech Republic, Oman and a couple of shows in Pakistan as well.

Additionally, Mr Sulemani has volunteered to teach photography to local aspirants and trained a group of 16 people. He regularly organizes photography events on non-commercial basis in Jahanian.

What is more is that, he has traveled to almost every corner of Pakistan, except for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Balochistan, in order to capture landscapes, portraits and wildlife.

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For the last 6 years, his focus has shifted primarily towards preserving endangered and vanishing birds through his camera lens.

“Though it is tough to wait for hours for a single click, the work is very close to my heart and easy to manage as compared to traveling for portraits and landscapes,” he says.

“In big cities like Lahore, we are disturbing the natural balance by feeding crows and kites in the name of ‘sadqa’. They are growing in big numbers and are killing numerous small species by eating their eggs.”

“Use of pesticides in rural areas has eliminated a majority of birds. Farmers would dispose of empty bottles of pesticides in ponds and irrigated fields. I have seen hundreds of birds killed due to poisonous water, ” he says.

The Wild Life Department is also helpless as they have no powers and equipment to stop illegal hunting. The local influential people, bureaucrats and army officers are killing 80% of the migratory birds every year, and Pakistan is one of the most hostile country towards wildlife.

“Approximately, 2,000 bare-headed geese used to come from Alaska every year after crossing Himalayan range. Majority is killed at Head Marala on the day they arrive. I counted up to 2,200 rounds fired at them in a single day and have seen hunters going back with van-loads of slaughtered birds. It’s unfortunate that those who are supposed to guard are ruthlessly killing them. Birds are our guests, who come here to add to the beauty of our homeland after flying thousands of kilometers distance. This brutality must be stopped,” he has concluded.

 

 

 

 

*This article was inspired from a post in Images by Dawn*

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