Mumbaikars, sign up for this photography trail to explore Aarey's nature

Jul 27, 2017, 17:15 IST | Dhara Vora Sabhnani

Sign up for a photography and nature trail to explore Aarey's green cover that will act as a teaser to an upcoming forest festival

The Aarey forest hosts close to 76 species of birds, 86 species of butterflies, 13 species of amphibians, 38 types of reptiles,  19 spider species and 34 different types of wild flowers. PICs COURTESY/SANJIV VALSAN
The Aarey forest hosts close to 76 species of birds, 86 species of butterflies, 13 species of amphibians, 38 types of reptiles,  19 spider species and 34 different types of wild flowers. PICS COURTESY/SANJIV VALSAN

"There is a general apathy towards the forestlands of Aarey. Only when you visit the forest, will you be able to connect with it," reasons 40-year-old photographer Sanjiv Valsan.

Konkani Crab
Konkani Crab

He, along with fellow nature enthusiasts, has been working overtime to raise awareness about the forests at Aarey. Now, this group of green thumbs is in the process of organising the first edition of the Aarey Forest Festival, in the coming months. The festival, which anyone can volunteer and be a co-organiser for, will include nature-themed talks, music performances, food prepared by the tribal community, photo walks and art workshops. To encourage more to join the movement, the team will be organising a nature and photography trail in the forest this Sunday.

The workshop will provide great subjects for macro photographers
The workshop will provide great subjects for macro photographers

Valsan, along with Jogeshwari resident Tushant Shetty will conduct the trail. Shetty has been visiting the forest for over a decade now. "Back when I was 13, a friend informed that there are fresh water prawns in the forest, and much to my surprise, it was true. Astounded by the diversity, I started visiting it every holiday. I discovered that the landscape is home to tarantula spiders, vipers, rock pythons, hornbills, peafowls, jungle cats and other diverse wildlife. Each trip would bring something new, and remind me of my hometown, Mangalore. Over the years, I have noticed the diminishing of the green cover. Close to 10 fresh water species of fish are now extinct in the forest," rues Shetty. He shares that logging and encroachment in the form of temples is rife in the forest. Also, the road that passes through the forest is responsible for many road kills. Valsan believes that awareness can help put stop a to all.

Malabar fungoid frog spotted at Aarey forest
Malabar fungoid frog spotted at Aarey forest

"The forest is emerald in colour right now, and the light is spectacular. The walk will present great opportunities for macro photography, and learning how to handle your gear in the rains," says Valsan. They aim to conduct many more workshops, such as Warli painting taught by the people from the local community to warm up Mumbaikars to the festival.

ON: July 30, 8 am to 12 noon
AT: Aarey Guest House main gate. 
COST: Rs 200 (free for Aarey forest locals, and students below 16 years of age)
LOG ON TO: facebook.com/aareyforestfestival (visit the event page)

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