Jerusalem24 – Rula Zughayar – This is a story from Deir Ghasaneh to the world, in light of the Palestinian wildlife researcher and photographer, Mohammad Al Shuaibi; who teaches the ways of reproducing the stories of our lives through mother nature.
6 years ago, Mohammd Al Shuaibi led his startup from scratch; a hobby that turned into a lifestyle. Where cameras and mobile phones were his only tools to document wildlife in a way that wasn’t easy at all. Our hero started somewhat at random as he didn’t have any background information about wildlife neither studied anything related to it. So, his journey went completely unplanned at first. Yet, eventually thrived.
Al Shuaibi faced many challenges during his journey. The Palestinian education system and the Palestinian Media were absolute challenges for him because both lack wildlife information. Therefore, they don’t do wildlife and nature justice. Even the culture itself wasn’t really accepting of the idea easily. Hence, People at first, underestimated him and his passion. However, such challenges are what made him more persistent and passionate about his dream to prove them wrong and to lift up the image of wildlife.
Although, there was a shortage of scientific information, today we have the help of some professionals that have the expertise in this field such as: Anton Khalilyeh.
Moreover, he declares how limited they are to only 25 persons from all around Palestine (including Gaza and the West Bank). Such individuals start genuinely eager but end up miserable about the haunting reality, they have to work independently with no real support nor sponsor.
His long journey is based on two aspects; study and purpose. He shows how it’s never a matter of coincidence. At the beginning, his footage was thoroughly random. However, now every time he shoots, he would have studied the life pattern of the animal while being always well-prepared ahead of time. And that’s exactly what helps him improve and develop himself more and more. He states “I’m willing to go 5 to 6 times just to shoot a footage of a wild bird”. Going unprepared is not even an option for him since all his equipment is not professional. He manages to do all his work with only a digital camera which requires plenty of time and an accurate setup to get the right angle before any shoot. Also, in view of all weather conditions he certainly has many things to take into consideration.
In Palestine, there is a major lack in strategies that work on the preservation of wildlife and keeping the Palestinian identity alive, especially in light of all the Israeli Zionist actions towards the Palestinian people and land, where it tries to steal the identity of many Palestinian wild animals. And with all the Israeli settlements around and the division of the Palestinian land, the right to movement is never a simple demand. For instance, Al Shuaibi and his colleagues were arrested multiple times on borders with Jordan. Unlike, the Israeli wildlife researchers who have all the privilege of documenting wildlife. For that reason, he calls for the Palestinian specialized organizations and the people themselves to show some help and support to protect wildlife.
“Our surroundings are indeed a piece of heaven,” says Al Shuaibi. In fact, he and his passion are a symbol of resistance. While he’s out there trying his best to educate the people about the relationship, they have with mother nature. Besides, promoting Wildlife tourism by arranging hikes, he’s dealing with lots of challenges that threatens his path.
At once, he’s been asked about his most remarkable memory he had while documenting wildlife. He answered “I was once on the Palestinian-Jordanian borders, and on the barrier, there was a Palestinian Chukar female bird found dead hanging on it while the male chukar was waiting and mourning for her on the other side, he kept waiting for her up to 2 days …. this indeed represents our reality”