Man being a threat to nature is not unheard of, but this time, his passion for nature is turning out to be the problem.
And Hesaraghatta lake bed is is a classic example of how man's 'innocent' passion can have adverse affect on the ecosystem. Parts of the lakebed have become barren due to heavy vehicular movement on the lake bed by nature photographers chasing migratory birds.
A rapid assessment of the impact caused by photographers driving on the dry Hesaraghatta lake bed reveals some startling facts.
The assessment was carried out in December 2012 by independent researchers and students from St Joseph’s College to assess the full-scale damage to the habitat.
Ornithologist Dr Krishna, one of the authors of the report points out that this problem is not unique to Hesaraghatta. “It is already rampant in other lake beds and other wilderness areas where nature photography and eco-tourism exists. We need transparent and systematic damage assessment surveys everywhere, especially where vehicles are entering wilderness areas.”
Many nature enthusiasts and photographers often visit natural areas to photograph winter migrant birds (September-April). The situation in Hesarghatta lake area has aggravated with the occurrence of rare birds like the European Roller or the Pied Harrier, being chased and cornered by 15-20 photographers till it is tired, states the report. This problem is not new and has been persistent over four years since 2009, when it was first highlighted.
The popularity that photography brings has fuelled a craze to capture rare species which in turn is counterproductive, feels Krishna. The study refers to the instances where nest photographers have destroyed bird nests after their photo shoots to prevent others from clicking the same. Today, nest photography is banned in almost all nature photography competitions, repositories or social media pages. "Similarly, nature photography forums should be discouraging such practices of deliberately destroying the habitat for the purpose of photography," said Krishna.
The study stresses that self regulation is the best way forward.
Dr Krishna adds,"The study stresses on the need for a committee who's panel could have as its members a few veteran photographers, new entrants to photography, ecologists, representatives of lake users and government. This panel should initiate a much more detailed study and attempt to identify means of regulating the activity by providing clear guidelines."