Award-winning photographer Mohammad Murad on how wildlife photography is a study of animal behaviour – News


The Kuwait-based wildlife photographer not too long ago received the second place beneath the class ‘City Wildlife’ on the 2021 World Nature Pictures Awards



African wild dogs. Photo Credits: Mohammad Murad

African wild canine. Photograph Credit: Mohammad Murad

By Anu Prabhakar

Revealed: Fri 1 Apr 2022, 8:47 PM

As soon as on the Zimanga Personal Recreation Reserve in South Africa, Mohammad Murad discovered himself staring into the eyes of a pack of African wild canine. They’re notoriously vicious — a Slate article as soon as described them as ‘brutal killers’ — and usually are not precisely identified for his or her pet eyes. “I didn’t method them as a result of they could get scared and assault me,” remembers Mohammad, through Zoom. “As a substitute, they approached me until they had been about 20 centimetres away. They began getting curious and sniffed me. My information assured me that it was secure, and I clicked a few good footage utilizing a wide-angle lens. Even immediately when folks see the images, they ask me, ‘Didn’t you get scared? How did you method them?’”.

Mohammed Murad

Mohammed Murad

Mohammad has numerous such tales to share. The Kuwait-based wildlife photographer not too long ago received the second place beneath the class ‘City Wildlife’ on the 2021 World Nature Pictures Awards, for his image of Arabian pink fox cubs set in opposition to Kuwait metropolis’s twinkling lights. The competitors, reportedly, had entries from 20 international locations unfold throughout six continents. Mohammad shot the images in 2017 over the course of virtually three months — most of which he spent mendacity on his abdomen, combating spiders and ants to seize that excellent shot.

A examine of animal behaviour

A communications engineer, Mohammad inherited his love for images from his father, who cherished clicking footage and taking movies of the household, particularly whereas travelling. “I purchased my first skilled digicam, a DSLR, in 2015 and began photographing birds. Earlier than that, I used to click on footage on my telephone and add them on Instagram,” he says. Individuals started to take discover and shortly, he was approached by the images and documentary workforce on the Kuwait Voluntary Work Centre.

The following two years, Mohammad learnt all the pieces there was to find out about chook and animal behaviour. “The workforce has 9 folks and so they taught me all the pieces — the right way to determine birds, the right way to know whether or not it’s a feminine or a male, whether or not it’s a migratory chook or one which’s dwelling right here in Kuwait. We used to go to birds’ nests to check them intently,” he says. The workforce additionally studied birds’ migratory patterns by visiting farms, deserts and the ocean, and tracked them utilizing monitoring units. “Now we have a community of birdwatcher buddies not solely within the Gulf, however in Russia, Hungary and most of Europe as properly. So when a chook involves Kuwait, we inform our good friend in Saudi Arabia in order that he is aware of that the chook goes to that nation subsequent.” Additionally they document chook sightings and ship the information to the organisation BirdLife Worldwide.

The entire expertise was revelatory — till then, Mohammad had no concept about Kuwait’s chook life. “I didn’t know we’ve eagles, vultures and different birds like owls that nest right here in Kuwait. As soon as, I photographed Griffon vultures — they’d migrated from Africa to Kuwait — and so they had been so massive, with about 2.3-2.6 metres wingspan! My good friend and I crawled on our stomachs like troopers till we had been shut sufficient to get some good pictures.”

“Now, I do know when to take an excellent image. Let’s say I wish to {photograph} a Pharaoh eagle-owl. I do know when and the place to go precisely. I do know they normally nest from January to Might relying on the climate and temperature, in Kuwait, in order that’s the time to go,” continues Mohammad, who has received a number of awards in competitions just like the InFocus Pictures Contest, MontPhoto Contest, Competition de l’Oiseau et de la Nature and Xposure Worldwide Pictures Competitors, to call just a few.

He has travelled to a number of international locations like Hungary, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya and Bulgaria for his picture shoots. As soon as, when he was in sizzling pursuit of the white-tailed eagle, he spent 12 days and greater than 12 hours every day in small images hides on the Hortobágy Nationwide Park in Hungary. “We didn’t have washroom amenities there so I didn’t eat something and drank little or no water,” he remembers.

In 2017, he ventured into wildlife images by first clicking footage of the Arabian pink fox in Kuwait. Africa has his coronary heart, although, as a result of taking pictures within the metropolis can get exhausting, tiring and time-consuming. “I really like working in Africa as a result of the animals don’t get scared once they see you.” Spending hours within the wild there, he rapidly learnt that if a lion’s abdomen appears slender or flat, it means that he’s hungry and in looking mode. “That’s after we prepare with our digicam. To take an excellent image, you must place your self in such a method that the prey is in between you and the lion.” Mohammad shares extra fascinating particulars — as soon as when he photographed the venomous desert horned viper within the north of the Kuwait desert, he made an attention-grabbing discovery. “The snake adopted the lights,” he says. “I positioned a torch on the bottom as a result of it was pitch-black and I observed that the snake didn’t come to me — as a substitute, it crawled in the direction of the torch and I used to be in a position to take my pictures,” the photographer indicators off.

An award-winning shot

His most up-to-date accolade, the World Nature Pictures Award, got here for his 2017 image of Arabian pink foxes close to Kuwait’s Doha seashore. “We found two fox dens via a drone. One den was actually near the shore which amazed me as Arabian pink foxes normally breed within the desert, far-off from people. The opposite den was solely about 300 metres away from the homes in an previous palm farm. Land degradation, overhunting and a lack of habitat will need to have pressured these two households of foxes to danger all the pieces and breed close to the town for meals. I informed my good friend that I needed to {photograph} them,” he says.

“Foxes are very sensible – in the event that they know that they’re being adopted, they may take you away from the den. Initially, solely the mom fox got here out and stayed 30 meters away from me,” he says. So Mohammad determined to camp on the market from sundown until about 11pm till the foxes received snug in his presence. “I used to be mendacity down on my abdomen for hours as I needed to take eye-level pictures and the dens had been at sea stage. There have been some massive ants that bit exhausting and as soon as I even noticed a camel spider simply 20cms away from my arm. I took a bottle of honey, drew a circle round me and stayed inside it. This helped, because the spiders and ants ate the honey and didn’t cross the road.”

One month (and one annoyed name to the aforementioned good friend) later, all 5 cubs emerged from their dens and approached Mohammad. “They had been very curious and commenced to lick my fingers. I knew they lastly felt secure. I knew that the mom fox buried meals in holes and that the cubs normally got here to eat the meals about two hours later. So I positioned a hand flash and waited as they got here out for meals. They began to smell the flash and that’s once I began taking the images.”

Lengthy after the images had been taken, Mohammad felt like he had an ethical duty to maintain the foxes secure – what in the event that they trusted all people like they trusted him and received into hassle? “I used to go to them each day for a very long time, simply to ensure that they had been secure.”

Mohammad hopes to spotlight the great thing about the town’s wildlife via his footage. “In lots of international locations, folks nonetheless assume it’s okay to kill animals. There are a whole bunch of such movies from Qatar, the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and so forth and it’s very shameful. Via my footage, I hope to persuade folks to cease killing them.”

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