Biju Boro talks about his passion for wildlife photography, Life provides us beautiful moments which we would like to freeze and cherish as memories. Photographers not only capture the happy faces but also capture the hidden pain in our eyes. They are the magicians and cameras are their magic wand.
The magic wand also, at times, captures tyranny of man on animal. It was one of those photographs which captured the misdoings and tyranny of human beings on an animal that helped ace photographer Biju Boro won the Sanctuary’s Wildlife Photographer 2016 award on December 2, Mumbai.
The photograph, captioned ‘Tyranny of a man’, shows how exhausted and disoriented by the uproar of the mob, a leopard, walking slowly, is looking for ways to flee. The incident took place at the outskirts of the city – Jyotikuchi, way back in 2009. “I received a call from someone on March 15, 2009 informing that movement of a leopard was observed in a village in Jyotikuchi area of the city. When I reached the spot, I saw no such animal and all of a sudden the animal was seen sitting on a cycle. A cow passed by the leopard but it didn’t attack the cow. Later when the mob started to scream and chase the animal, it fled. The leopard didn’t attack anyone. I was moving with two forest guards, one of them was holding the tranquilizer gun and another a pistol. If the forest guards had delayed in pumping the tranquilizer, the villagers would have surely killed the animal,” he shared. He added, “The photograph captures the many facets of the man-animal conflict. I was feeling extremely bad for the animal that was already frightened and was trying to escape from the place. I zeroed in on the caption when I saw more than thousands of people were chasing the animal, trying to attack it physically.” Boro further shared that human beings ‘must stop invading animals’ territories and should work to protect their lives’. “The leopard was later captured by the forest officials. The truth is that a leopard can’t kill a man. When a man stands next to a leopard, the height of the human being first comes to the mind of the leopard; the animals assume human beings as more powerful than them. The animal might attack man, if he is sitting somewhere. They usually attack cows, goats, dogs and so on as it is commonly seen in villages and forest regions,” he added further. Boro, who has worked in the capacity of a photojournalist for various leading newspapers, became a celebrated wildlife photographer, quite by chance.
“I am a photojournalist, not a wildlife photographer by profession, so it was a dream come true moment when I received the award. I had a deep passion for wildlife photography since childhood. I never thought of receiving an award for this photograph. It felt good when actor Dia Mirza asked how I took the photograph and if I was scared. Everyone in the jury appreciated my photograph. I would like to share, when I clicked the photograph, I didn’t have any proper camera equipments as to what I have today. That makes me feel positive that right intention is the driving force behind all great photographs,” he said. Dereck and Beverly Joubert, award-winning filmmakers from Botswana, with five Emmys and a Peabody to their names, were also part of the jury for the Sanctuary’s Wildlife Photographer 2016 award.
The place where the ‘mob chasing the leopard’ incident took place has changed and is now ‘covered with concrete buildings’.
Boro, who considers himself a student in the school of photography, shared that he appreciates all creations irrespective of any genre.
“I am a learner for life, whether it’s wildlife or fashion photography. I go through photographs posted by budding photographers on social media platforms. If I like anything particular, I ask for their contact numbers to ask how he or she clicked it. A photograph is so powerful that it speaks thousands of words without speaking a single word. But a true photographer must not edit their images in the several Photoshop softwares available today. The originality must be intact,” Boro suggested.
On being quizzed on how he got into photography, he shared that while studying at Arya Vidyapeeth College, Guwahati, he did a course on photography from ITI Guwahati and landed up working with the local newspapers.
“For my first assignment, I went to Shillong with journalist S Choudhury, then with The Times of India. It was in the year 1999. In the following days, I sent my photographs to various newspapers and magazines. We must remember that a camera doesn’t click a picture,rather a user does it; so it depends upon how you observe the reality. Even the picture for which I got the award was taken by Nikkon D40X model which is no longer available in the market. It’s a super amateur camera. I would like to urge all the amateur photographers not to depend upon Photoshop. A good photographer should focus only on perfect exposure,” he stated.Bora shared that he ‘loves to be in the jungle and will work towards protecting the wildlife’. He presently carries Nikkon D810, 24 mm-120mm lens, a wide-angle lens 16mm- 24mm, 300S4 lens, Nikkon D90 for photography.
“I would love to buy 300/2.8 or 400/ 2.8 lenses in near future which cost around ` 6 to ` 7 lakh. I also read photography magazines to keep myself updated,” he added further. Sharing tips on how to pursue wildlife photography, he said, “If we want to go for proper wildlife photography, we need huge funds to work. We have to work inside the jungle for which we need to understand how an animal reacts. Immense patience is required to capture a photograph. We can’t get excited or take things for granted. And one must follow the rules and regulations of the forest department.”