Sunday, December 18, 2016

Lens as a weapon

TP Shukoor
Nisar Kolakkadan
     Being a man of values, Nisar Kolakkadan is always vigilant to protest when anyone tries to loot the naturally formed sand of rivers Chaliyar and Iruvazhinji  of his village. As he is a noted and dedicated wild life photographer and environmental activist of the time, he uses his lens as a weapon to struggle against any kind of destructing activities to the nature.

     Adventurous and stunning experiences of his childhood days made him powerful enough to become a wild life photographer.  He remembers a pathetic incident during his high school time that he could not forget still after many decades.  That led him to the way of wild life protection and awareness programs.

     In older days, hunting was a common practice. No legal restrictions were there at that time.   Kolakkadan family was well-known for their dominance in hunting and 'Kaalappoottu' (bull-race).   In case of  a party or function in his house, the elder ones would set out to the forest with rifles in order to shoot down any animals to enjoy a delicious feast to celebrate the occasion.   As a high school student, Nisar also would be accompanying them for the hunting.

     The strategy of hunting was different in various contexts and it was to be apt to the occasions. This time, the strategy was to attract the animals towards the bank of river and would shot them when get them a closer look.  That day a deer was the prey and the team could shoot it down easily.  They slaughtered and removed the skin  to  prepare the meat for cooking.  But the shocking sight  seen that day has still been smoldering in Nisar's heart.  What to say, he could not look at it twice.  It was a pregnant animal that they shot.  The kid in the womb of the deer was not just foetus.  It was almost in a matured level to be born as a fawn following days.  It wriggled for a while and breathed its last in front of him.  The final shrieking of the young animal has still been loudly echoing in his ears that persuades him to form resistance against such atrocities against wild life.

     After this cruel incident, Nizar never accompanied the team again and started to support the initiatives that protect those helpless wild creatures.   In his efforts, his only weapon was his camera. He went ahead courageously to protest against the cruelties being practiced against the progeny of jungles.    That's how the noted wild life photographer Nizar Kolakkadan emerged.  Today he is an active presence in social media for the sake of environmental protection social criticism against the destruction of nature.

     He was born at Cheruvadi, a village in Kohikode district, Kerala, as son of Kolakkadan Ghulam Hussain and retired teacher Mariyam.  His formal study is Pre-degree and Diploma in Electrical engineering.   Photography was his craze since his high school days.  First debut  as a photographer was with an AFCA 12 film black&white camera that can develop negative photos. At present, he is in a mood of fulfilling his ambitions as some of his childhood ambitions are fulfilled in recent years.  One of which was a Canon One Dx camera.  Another one is an opportunity that he got to click a rhino, that is being a dream of every wild life photographer as the rhino is very rarely seen in front of the lenses.

     In India, rhinos are being looked after only in Kaziranga national park, Assam.  But  Nisar got the chance to click a rhino is not from India.  He went to Chitwan national park in Nepal for that purpose.  Being an animal lover, he is ready to do anyhow adventurous travelings in order to get the clicks.  To click this rhino, he traveled as much as 3000 km by car to Chitwan national park which obviously shows his enthusiasm and dedication in the field.

     Many times he had experienced narrow escape from wild animals like elephant, leopard and tigers during the treks.  Tiger, he says, is really a gentleman as once he accidentally happened to fell just in front of a tiger in forest.  The animal just stared at him and moved to its own way.  'It was God's will that saved me that day', he recalls.

     A click of a tiger, that got after the troublesome wandering of as long as eight months,  is the most valuable photo  in his collections.  He was returning disappointed as he got nothing special after a safari inside the Nagarhole tiger reserve.  It was then he could spot the 'real' tiger with its full majesty in a rain pit near the road as near as 15 feet away. The tiger 'helped' him to click from different angles around 20 minutes without moving away from there.   'The pleasure and excitement of the day was really not able to express through words.'  He says.

     Many news papers including Times of India have published his photographs.  A number of recognition including Wild life Photography award of Karnataka government also came into his account.  He also achieved first price in 'Bhouma novu',  an environmental protection photography contest held by  a Facebook group 'Sanchari' that has more than 2.5 lakh members. 'Loss to the nature on account of tourism' was the topic.   His click, a deer that eats plastic bags, made him winner in the contest.

     He normally visits the jungle at least four times in a month. Getting the animals like tiger or leopard close to the lens from the vast area of dense forest  is really a luck.  We must  be extremely  patient in order to be blessed with that luck.  Once he traveled to Bankok with a friend when he heard about a tiger temple in which the tigers are being looked after by some Budhist monks in Thailand.  Thus he got the chance to walk with a tiger, patting on its back, without any distance or barricades.  That also he considers as another luck he was blessed in the career.
     He visited many places of different countries like Sumatra in Indonesia, Hong kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Egypt, Turkey, Holand..etc.  Almost all states of India that keep wild life or a reserve forest were not exempted from his reach.

     'Although governments spent crores of rupees for the sake of wild life, its resemblance is visible only in Karnataka.  We can see at least a guard in each 500 meters of forest area of Karnataka.'  He says.

But in other states, there are not seen any stringent measures taken against the environmental and forest pollution.

     He keeps the precious collection of thousands of pictures that were captured throughout his wild life photographic career over a span of 4 years.  In spite of his busy schedule as a business man, he has still been sparing time for frequent travelling.   He is preparing to conduct a show of his captured pictures in recent future. He could master the photography only through persistence and hard work as he was a self learner throughout his career.  Now his dream is to form an NGO that focuses on preserving wild life and awareness programs for the environmental protection.

(Thanks to Salim Geeroad who wrote a Malayalam feature that inspired me to pen down about Nisar Kolakkadan)


  1. A photo can go a long way and do change the way people look at the same stuff for ever

  2. I am entranced right at this point, Incredibly depicted blog
    Joseph Hayon


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