SAVING WILDLIFE THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHY

Today, March 3 is World Wildlife Day. On this day, we would like to highlight the work of  U.S. Government International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) Alumnus Aziz Ahmed to encourage preservation of wildlife in Ethiopia. Aziz is a photographer by profession who is passionate about wildlife. His passion for wildlife started at an early age when his father, a professional hunter, took him to forest.  Aziz’s friends were amazed by the pictures he took with his mobile phone and encouraged to devote his life for wildlife photography.

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It was not an easy decision for Aziz to pursue a career as a wildlife photographer. Many people, including his family, didn’t take his job seriously. He didn’t have a role model to look up to, but he knew he had a passion for wildlife. “I sacrificed a lot, to live in a forest and lose many things including my family,” said Aziz, “My friends questioned my mental health when I sold my car to buy a camera and camped in a forest. They advised me to stop and think. But it is a passion.”

Aziz spends 75% of his time in the forest – a risky business. He has survived three car accidents, his camera was broken by a crocodile, and he has received multiple snake bites, but none of these challenges could stop him from taking pictures. “My job is dangerous, but that is the nature of the profession,” he said.  His efforts have paid off and Aziz has amassed a collection of over 400,000 images of wildlife, landscapes, and cultural and historical places in Ethiopia over the last ten years. His collection is mainly dominated with birds and lions. Of all the animals, Aziz has a special affection to lions. “I love lions. I have no words to explain their grace in the forest. It is so beautiful. However, it is hard to find a lion; it is a lifetime enjoyment to film him. ”

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For Aziz the most challenging part of his job is not living in the forest; rather looking for support to display his works  to create awareness about the abundant wildlife resources in Ethiopia. He is always eager to show the beauty of the forest and its creatures. “There is a lack of awareness about wildlife in Ethiopia. Many people do not get a chance to see wildlife  the way I have. Ethiopia has an amazing wildlife resources, landscapes, culture and tribes. ” said Aziz.

The IVLP program helped Aziz to change his perspective towards his work in general and wildlife conservation in particular. “It was one of the best trips,” said Aziz. “It was a program that changed the way I see wildlife. I had a chance to meet professionals in the wildlife sector and visited national parks. I took lessons about documenting wildlife. ” After returning from the program, Aziz is even more committed to using his photography to raise awareness about the need for wildlife conservation.

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Aziz believes Ethiopia’s wildlife is underappreciated in the world and wants to change that. In addition to his photographs and short films, he is finalizing the production of a documentary film on Ethiopian National Parks that will be aired on television in the near future. He envisioned protecting parks in Ethiopia to inherit to the next generation.

 

የዱር እንሰሳትን በፎቶገራፍ መታደግ

የካቲት 24, 2009 ዓ.ም. የዱር እንሰሳት ቀን ይከበራል፡፡ ቀኑን በማስመልከትም U.S. Government International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) የቀድሞ የፕሮግራሙ ተሳታፊ የሆነዉ አዚዝ አህመድ በኢትዮጵያ የዱር እንሰሳት ጥበቃን አስመልክቶ በሠራቸዉ ሥራዎች ላይ ትኩረት እናደርጋለን፡፡ በሙያዉ ፎቶግራፍ አንሺ የሆነዉ አዚዝ፤ ለዱር እንሰሳት ልዩ ፍቅር አለዉ፡፡ የዱር እንሰሳት ፍቅር ያደረበት ገና በልጅነቱ አዳኝ አባቱ ወደ ጫካ ሲወስደዉ ነበር፡፡ ጓደኞቹም በተንቀሳቃሽ ስልኩ በሚያነሳቸዉን ፎቶዎች በጣም ተደንቀዉ በሙያዉ እንዲገፋበት አበረታቱት፡፡

ነገር ግን የዱር እንሰሳትን ተከታትሎ ፎቶግራፍ ማንሳትን እንደሙያ ዘርፍ መያዝ ለአዚዝ ቀላል አልነበረም፡፡ ብዙ ሰዎች፤ ወላጆቹን ጨምሮ ሙያዉን እንደ መደበኛ ሙያ አልተቀበሉትም ነበር፡፡ አርአያ የሚያደርገዉ ሰዉ እንኳ ባልነበረበት ለዱር እንሰሳት ልዩ ፍቅር እንዳለዉ ከመጀመሪያዉ ያዉቅ ነበር፡፡ “ጫካ ዉስጥ ከመኖር አልፎ ቤተሰቤንና ሌሎች ነገሮችን እስከማጣት የደረሰ ብዙ መስዋዕትነት ከፍያለዉ” ይላል አዚዝ፤ ሲቀጥልም “ጓደኞቼ ካሜራ ይዤ ጫካ ለመኖር በመወሰን መኪናዬን በሸጥኩ ጊዜ ጤናማ ስለመሆኔ ተጠራጥረዉ ነበር፡፡ የማደርገዉን እንዳቆምና በደንብ እንዳስብ መከሩኝ፡፡ ነገር ግን ይህ የፍላጎት ጉዳይ ነዉ፡፡”

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አዚዝ 75 በመቶ ጊዜዉን የሚያጠፋዉ ጫካ ዉስጥ ነዉ፡፡ በዚህም ሶስት ጊዜ የመኪና አደጋ አጋጥሞታል፤ ካሜራዉ በአዞ ተሰባብሯል፤ ብዙ ጊዜ በእባብ ተነድፏል፡፡ ነገር ግን እነኚህ ሁሉ አደጋዎች ፎቶዎችን ከማንሳት አልገደቡትም፡፡  “ሥራዉ አደገኛ ነዉ፡፡ ነገር ግን ይህ የሥራዉ ፀባይ ነዉ፡፡” ይላል፡፡ በዚህ አደጋዎች ባልበገሩት ጥረቱ ባለፉት አሥር አመታት 400,000 የሚሆኑ የኢትዮጵያን የዱር እንሰሳትን፤ መልከአምድራዊ አቀማመጥ፤ ባህላዊና ታሪካዊ ቦታዎችን  የሚያሳዩ ፎቶግራፎችን ለመሰብሰብ በቅቷል፡፡ ከስብስቦቹ ዉስጥም አብዛኛዎቹ የወፎች እና አናብስት ፎቶግራፎች ናቸዉ፡፡ አዚዝ ከዱር እንሰሳት ሁሉ አብልጦ የሚወደዉ አንበሳን ነዉ፡፡ “አናብስትን እወዳለሁ፡፡ በጫካ ዉስጥ ያላቸዉን ዉበት ለመግለጽ ቃላቶች ያጥሩኛል፡፡ በጣም ቆንጆዎች ናቸዉ፡፡ ነገር ግን አንበሳን ማግኘት እጅግ አስቸጋሪ ነዉ፡፡ እሱን መቅረጽ የህይወት ዘመን ደስታ ነዉ፡፡”

ለአዚዝ አስቸጋሪዉ ነገር ጫካ ዉስጥ መኖር አይደለም፡፡  በኢትዮጵያ የሚገኙ የዱር እንሰሳት ሀብት ላይ ግንዛቤን ለማስጨበጥ የሚረዱ ስራዎቹን ለማሳየት የሚችልበትን ድጋፍ ማግኘት አለመቻሉ ነዉ፡፡ ሁል ጊዜም የጫካን ዉበት እና በዉስጡ ያሉ ፍጥረቶችን ለማሳየት ይጓጓል፡፡ “በኢትዮጵያ ስለዱር እንሰሳት ያለዉ ግንዛቤ አናሳ ነዉ፡፡ ልክ እንደ እኔ ብዙ ሰዎች የዱር እንሰሳትን ለማየት አልታደሉም፡፡ ኢትዮጵያ እጅግ አስደናቂ የዱር እንሰሳት ሀብት፤ የመልከዓምድራዊ አቀማመጥ፤ ባህሎች እና ጎሳዎች ባለቤት ናት” ሲል ይገልፃል፡፡

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የ IVLP ፕሮግራም ተጠቃሚ የሆነዉ አዚዝ፤ ፕሮግራሙ ባጠቃላይ ስለሥራዉ እና ስለዱር እንሰሳት ጥበቃ ያለዉን አመለካከት እንደቀየረዉ ይናገራል፡፡ “ልዩ ጉዞ ነበር” ሲል ያስታዉሳል፡፡ “ፕሮግራሙ ስለዱር እንሰሳት ያለኝን አመለካከት ቀይሮታል፡፡ በዱር እንሰሳት ዘርፍ የሚሰሩ ሙያተኞችን ለመገናኘት እና ብሔራዊ ፓርኮችን ለመጎብኘት እድሉን አግኝቻለሁ፡፡ የዱር እንሰሳትን የሚመለከቱ ጥንቅሮችን ለመስራት የሚረዱ ትምህርቶችንም ቀስሜያለሁኝ፡፡”

የኢትዮጵያን የዱር እንሰሳት ዘርፍ በአለም ላይ ብዙም አድናቆት እንዳልተቸረዉ አዚዝ ይናገራል፡፡ እናም ይህንን እንደሚለዉጥ ያምናል፡፡ ከፎቶገራፎቹና አጫጭር ፊልሞች በተጨማሪ፤ በቴለቪዥን የሚቀርብ በኢትዮጵያ ብሔራዊ ፓርኮች ላይ ያተኮረ ዶክሜንታሪ ፊልም እያገባደደ ነዉ፡፡ በኢትዮጵያ ላሉ ፓርኮች ጥበቃ በማድረግ ለመጪዉ ትዉልድ ማስተላለፍ እንደሚገባም ያምናል፡፡

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