Beauty of Safari as told from young Omani’s perspective

He was no stranger to animals and wildlife. He grew up with a couple of dogs back in Salalah and it is through his pets that he developed curiosity for animals especially those found in the wild. His relationship with photography was on and off, but until he rediscovered his fascination for wildlife, did he became serious about his art. Haitham Ba Omar opened his exhibit on Thursday evening at the hallowed halls of Bait al Zubair. Aptly called ‘Safari,’ it was attended not only by his fellow photographers who are into different genre of photography, but people from the media and the society especially art lovers.
Under the patronage of His Highness Dr Faris bin Turki al Said, the exhibit will run from October 10 until October 25, 2018.
The photos, more than three dozens of them, were the result of two trips Haitham and a few friends did in 2016 and this 2018.
“Of all the animals in the Safari, the cheetah was my favourite probably because it runs so fast and they are these domineering predators. They are very good hunters and watching them in their natural habitat as they hunt, their is something fascinating about them,” he shared.
“For sometime, I pursued photography in Oman. I’d been taking photos of animals in the wild, but they weren’t as diverse as I hope them to be,” he said.
“We don’t have much of these wild animals. We have birds, foxes and gazelles, but I really wanted some more which is why I went to Africa,” he added.
“I went to Africa twice. The first one was in 2016 and the next one was recently this 2018. The
difference about the two visits can be seen on the photos. These photos are a combination of the two trips. Those that have green hues on them which were brought about by the foliage, those are in 2018 because there was too much rain happening there. The brown, warmer tone photos were taken in 2016,” he narrated.
As a wildlife photographer, Haitham said there is a lot of challenges one has to overcome.
“Wildlife photography is one of the most challenging genre of photography. The first thing you have to possess is patience. One of the photos I took, this lioness circling a zebra, it took four hours of waiting to capture that shot,” he shared.
“The other photograph of a lion chasing a gazelle, that took about six hours. And I’d actually consider myself lucky to have gotten the shots in such amount of time. Others have to wait long period of time,” he said.
“Most of the time, it’s just you inside the car waiting for things to pick up. So yes, without patience, this is definitely not for you,” he said.
He also shared that being in the wild, one has to consider a lot of risks not only from being mauled by wild animals or get chased by elephants, but the terrain itself provides certain degree of challenge.
“The most challenging part of the trip was when our car gave up on us and it was raining like crazy. There was nothing we can do but stay inside. We cannot risk going outside,” he shared.
He added, “We have to wait for four hours for help to arrive. What makes matter worst, there is usually just one road and when it’s raining, they can get flooded,” he said.
But it’s not all miserable encounters. In fact, the challenges only added thrill and drama to the experience.
“The fun part for me is the camping. When you sleep in these areas where nature thrives and animals are everywhere, when you hear the lions growl as you go to sleep, it was a different kind of adventure,” he said.
Haitham wanted to clarify though that there was no agenda to his exhibit.
“I was just trying to demonstrate the beauty of nature and wildlife in particular,” he said.
But he also hopes that upon looking at the photos, people will also come to understand that these animals are facing their own challenges everyday. Many of them on the verge of extinction.
“By looking at these photos, I hope people will be reminded and least take a pause. Despite not having any agenda, I hope we do care enough to do something and save them,” he said.
“By doing this exhibit, I am showing people how beautiful nature, and that rather than destroying it, we should be doing our part to preserve it,” he added.
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