We have been home now for more than four months, and as a blogger, nature and wildlife photographer, the shelter in place restrictions have been excruciating. The great outdoor was always my comfort zone, and now being confined within the home has forced me to reflect on the work I was doing and explore ways to enhance it.
The whole world is suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic, and Nepal is also affected by the great disruption. The spread of the virus was supposedly being controlled by the lockdown, but now it seems otherwise. The total number of cases and fatalities in Nepal continue to rise.
With all assignments and projects probably cancelled for the rest of the year, I fell back on macro photography, which was what got me started into capturing images of nature and wildlife in the first place back in 2008. It was time to challenge myself again.
And where better than the small patch of greenery outside my home in Kathmandu. It is alive with insects, arthropods, reptiles of various shapes and sizes walking, hopping, buzzing, fluttering, and flying around under the monsoon sky. The patch is bursting with life, especially during the rainy months.
Many people recoil at the sight of insects and spiders, and we are culturally hardwired to regard them as being harmful. Some of you might get goosebumps and a chills down the spine even thinking about them. I share this feeling when it comes to leeches, I admit, but insects and other critters in the garden form a complex urban ecosystem. The very fact that they are still around means we have not completely obliterated them with chemicals of mass destruction like insecticides.
Charismatic mammals like tigers, pandas and rhinos get all the attention in nature programs. The smaller members of the animal kingdom tend to disappear underfoot. But when we talk about conservation, forests, and wildlife, we have to include everything in it, because they are all inherently interlinked. Even the tiniest insects are part of a larger whole in nature, each of them contributing in their small way to biodiversity and the health of nature. The aphid is as important as the bat, if not more. And we are not even talking about microscopic organisms that cannot even be seen with the human eye.
And as the COVID-pandemic has shown, we ignore nature at our own peril. The spread of zoonotic infections is happening because of modern industrial society ignoring and destroying the natural world. The biosphere is being sterilised with urban sprawl, monoculture crops, or plantations. Factory farms are mass producing meat, and there are 25 billion broiler chicken worldwide at any given time. Chicken bones will be the lasting legacy of the anthropocene era.
“Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar,” says agronomist Bradley Miller.