A doc who yearns to preserve all that’s wild

A medical doctor with a strong interest in conservation, Dr. Sawan Waidyantha will hold his second solo exhibition ‘Wildscapes II: Exhibition of Sri Lankan Nature Photography” at the Kandy City Centre on March 28 and 29 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Who’s there: Sambur trio at Horton Plains

Attached to the Cardiology Unit, Teaching Hospital Kandy, he spends his spare time visiting the country’s wildlife parks and the exhibition displays fascinating images from his many travels.

His interest in nature photography began as an inevitable extension of his love of animals. “As a schoolboy I used to keep any animal I could find: fish, birds, guinea pigs, even a palm civet, and snakes.

When the “Wildlife Photographer of the Year” exhibition--which showcases the best wildlife images worldwide--toured Sri Lanka in 1998, it left a deep and lasting impression on him. Coming across the work of the great Sri Lankan outdoor/nature photographers Nihal Fernando and Dr. T. S. U. de Zylva at the same time inspired him to take up nature photography as a serious hobby.

“Everything I learnt about nature photography has been self taught, mainly from trial and error, drawing guidance and inspiration from books and other photographers’ work.

“Strong visual stimuli of nature in the form of still photography or films can be the most powerful tools of conservation. While one enjoys the beauty of a photograph, a subconscious urge to conserve the animal and its habitat is instilled. When I look at an old black and white photograph in a Nihal Fernando book, I think with nostalgia, “This is what we had, and destroyed!” and a desire to protect what is left develops.

When someone looks at one of my photographs and says, “Beautiful. Was this taken in Sri Lanka?” like all nature photographers, I get a satisfaction that my responsibility of showing/promoting the natural splendour of this island is fulfilled, and hopefully it will in some small way inspire someone to protect and care for this fragile resource,” Dr. Waidyantha says.

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