Landscapes Of Hope
A palette of vistas from across Asia showcase diverse ecosystems that underscore the truth that the value of landscapes far exceeds their aesthetic appeal.
AGAINST THE GRAIN:
Photo: Baiju Patil.
In the extreme, inhospitable expanse of the Thar Desert, specialised species such as these chinkara somehow manage to find sustenance. Paradoxically, ill-conceived ‘greening’ programmes destabilise this delicate ecosystem, even as the rapacious plunder of the Aravalis causes the desert to spread its arid embrace.
LOCATION: Desert National Park, Rajasthan, India
EXIF: Camera: Nikon D7000, Lens: Nikon 14-24 mm. f/2.8, Shutter speed: 1/250 sec., Aperture: f/9, ISO: 100, Focal length: 15 mm., Image taken: March 19, 2011; 5:41 p.m.
Photo: Nisha Purushothaman.
The crown of a pocket of shola forests peeps out from beyond the capacious high altitude grasslands of Eravikulam. Over 50 of the 300 odd species of flora found in this Indian savannah are endemic to the montane grasslands of the Western Ghats. This treasured landscape holds the largest remaining population of the Nilgiri tahr.
LOCATION: Eravikulam National Park, Kerala, India
EXIF: Camera: Canon EOS-1D X, Lens: Canon EF 24-85 mm. f/3.5-4.5, Shutter speed: 1/400 sec., Aperture: f/8, ISO: 200, Focal length: 24 mm., Image taken: December 20, 2014; 10:16 a.m.
THE RIVER OF ORIGIN:
Photo: Saurabh Sawant.
Caressing the Himalaya, the Hindu Kush and the Karakoram, the serpentine path of the Indus river winds through the cold landscape of Ladakh. Mightier than the Nile, the Tigris and the Euphrates, this is the cradle of the ancient world’s most celebrated civilisation. The waters of this great river are shared by India and Pakistan through the World Bank-mediated Indus Waters Treaty.
LOCATION: Indus, Eastern Ladakh, India
EXIF: Camera: Canon EOS 100D, Lens: Canon EF-S 18-55 mm. f3.5-5.6 IS, Shutter speed: 1/400 sec., Aperture: f/6.3, ISO: 100, Focal length: 27 mm., Image taken: May 30, 2014; 05:13 p.m.
Photo: Baiju Patil.
In a burst of colour, the coral reefs off the Andaman Islands release a salvo of underwater life forms. Together, the Andaman and Nicobar islands share an estimated 1,000 sq. km. of reefs. The chaotic beauty of this exciting marine-scape is marred by bleaching events, sedimentation, over-collection of coral, and unthinking exploitation by ill-informed tourists and divers.
LOCATION: Andaman Islands, India
EXIF: Camera: Nikon D7000, Lens: Nikon 12 -24 mm. f/4.0, Shutter speed: 1/320 sec., Aperture: f/14, ISO: 320, Focal length: 13 mm., Image taken: April 05, 2014; 12:02 p.m.
ABOVE AND BEYOND:
Photo: Kalyan Varma.
In Malaysian Borneo’s Tabin Nature Reserve, a solitary mengaris tree Koompassia excelsa towers over the canopy, as if making to sweep the stars. This giant rainforest tree is amongst the tallest of the tropical species, and has extravagant buttress roots to keep it from toppling. The mengaris is favoured by honey bees that find safe harbour in its tremendous height, and often adorn its branches with hives as wide as two metres across. One tree – one landscape, nay a universe unto itself.
LOCATION: Tabin Nature Reserve, Borneo, Malaysia
EXIF: Camera: Nikon D700, Lens: Nikon 14-24 mm., Shutter speed: 30 sec., Aperture: f/2.8, ISO: 800, Focal length: 24 mm., Image taken: June 28, 2011; 10:54 p.m.
First appeared in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXV No. 10, October 2015.