photo essay by Tuhin Subhra Mondal
Rivers, human beings and forest create a strange bond in Sundarban, the largest mangrove forest located at the delta region of the river Ganges. The rivers nurture and support both forest and human beings yet maintaining a fine line of separation between the two. When one or the other crosses this line, conflict arises.
Sundarban is home to many exotic species, most famous being the Royal Bengal Tiger. Also it is home to some of the most poisonous snakes and the famous salt-water crocodiles. Most of the cases of tiger and crocodile attack happened when the people crossed into the forest for to collect honey or wood, or for shrimp and crab fishing along the bank. In very rare cases, tigers have crossed the a wide river to venture into the localities.
But when the river diminishes, the situation gets worse as there is virtually no barrier between the human habitat and the forest. Ever increasing population and demand for resources have put an unnatural pressure on the forest and threatens the fine ecological balance that sustains this fragile forest.
Q&A with Tuhin Subhra Mondal
Photography for me is the most important language for communication with the world. It is a tool to look beyond the obvious and bring out a deeper understanding of what is happening around us. I think the most important purpose photography serves is to raise important questions in the viewers mind and compels them to think beyond what is apparent.
Photography and writing…
Photography and writing should compliment each other, more so in present context when we are bombarded with the overabundence of images. Photography and writing should work in tandem to ensure that both are not lost in the great outpour of information that the internet provides us everyday.
Who left the biggest impression on you?
I am deeply fascinated by works of Diane Arbus. She left a lasting impression on me. Also I was influenced by the works of Sally Mann, Joseph Koudelka. Among Indian contemporary artists, I am fascinated by the the works of Prabuddha Dasgupta. Its sad that he left us untimely.
Tell us a little about yourself
I am a 28 year old documentary photographer based in Kolkata, India. I first took a camera in hand when I was in college, back in 2005. It was a film DSLR and continued to take photos for the next 3 years, till the films became few and far between and I ran out of money to buy some! Then after graduating I shifted to digital in early 2012 and started with street and documentary photography. recently I have shifted my focus on long term projects, mostly on issues / phenomenas that has generally been stereotyped by the media to look in a particular light. My aim is to get e better understanding of these issues so that better and more effective measures can be taken about them. I started this project with this aim and want to look beyond what is generally portrayed as a human-tiger conflict in the Sundarban region, because I believe there is much more to the story than what meets the eye. I also try to collaborate with local people to get a better insight into their lives and work on a personal level.