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Steel2Velvet

Photos of Hope

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If you just want to see pictures, skip the background verbage. But I feel the shots have a deeper message than just, "a nice picture."

One often hears of the mass destruction of flora and fauna occurring at an alarming rate in Brazil, the world's largest and most diverse eco-system. Let me briefly tell (and show) you the other side of the story. First know this, if every man and woman in Brazil cut down a tree a day, the forests would continually surge back to reclaim the sky. People could never stay ahead of flora here. Tree growth that requires 50 years in my home state of Ohio, in the USA, takes about 10 years here. Conditions in Brazil encourage such a degree of fertility, that almost any seed thrown on the ground will root and grow. Animals are another story. Animal reproduction is naturally less random and fruitful than plants. Many of the more exotic animals native to Brazil have been hunted and poached to various degrees of extinction. Most captures over the years have been made by pet companies and zoos - yes, zoos. With many of the animals smuggled out of the country, where border controls are hard to manage. I feel it is somewhat self-agrandizing when world zoological concerns express the sentiment that Brazilians are somehow at fault for "destroying habitat" and facilitating declining numbers of animal populations.

There is a concerted effort in Brazil by many organizations, to take up the mantle of protectors of the indiginous wildlife whose numbers are precariously low. One such chapter is the Passeu Publico, in my city, Brazil's 6th largest, Curitiba. Passeu is at once a central-downtown 5 acre strolling park, a non-paying admittance bird and monkey exhibition zoo, but more importantly, a natural environment reserve that stimulates pairs of endangered (and some not so endangered) species of birds and monkies to build new families. The offspring of the breeding pairs are, when nurtured to the point of independence, distributed globally to other breeding programs, wildlife preserves, zoological concerns and most importantly, back to their natural habitat with the hope they will find and breed there with what is left of the indiginous population.

Two months ago, I was given permission to accompany feeders and vets into the enclosures (in the case of the monkeys, onto the three large, moated "islands") to photograph the animals on days the facility is closed to the public. Here are some of the pictures with brief descriptions:

The Black-faced Monkey is the largest non-human primate in the Western Hemisphere, standing 4 feet tall. Very active, societal and nearly extinct.

BLACK-FACEDMONKEYFAMILY.jpg

This Southern Bearded Saki is the patriarch of a family currently numbering eight at various stages of developement. Once they reach a certain maturity, this guy rejects them and they are sent out to other programs and to the wild. This fellow has about 20 offspring in various places helping to repopulate this nearly extinct species. Hard to believe, but the tails of these shy, reclusive animals were once actively sold as furniture dusters. The egrets in the tree (background) return to this place voluntarily to nest each year as Spring approaches.

TuftedMonkey.jpg

Following are some of the birds in residence, many are very fierce and aggressive toward people. This cousin of the toucan cracks Brazil nuts with its beak and could take a finger off with absolutely no difficulty. I stayed way back when this beauty showed me that thick band of muscles leading to the roof of its mouth.

Savage.jpg

When aggressively fighting or stimulated to woo a mate, this parrot displays the colorful feathers on the back of its neck that usually lay flat. I took this and bolted because I didn't think he was falling in love with me.

Force.jpg

Not all the birds at Passeu are dangerous or near extinction. Some are there to be rehabilitated due to injury, desease or just find it a nice place to live voluntarily. All the offspring are sent out to populate other places. Here is a Ben-ti-vi parent and chick, that is almost grown. Note the nearly unused condition of the chick's beak. It nuzzles the parent, as it used to do to stimulate feeding. This may be perhaps the last time this happened, because the parent will reject a grown offspring in order to get it to start its own family. It is the way of nature. I titled this shot "The Parting."

SummersParting.jpg

Hunted to near extinction for pet companies, this blue-faced parrot is making a very encouraging comeback in the wild.

OLHOSDAFLORESTA.jpg

The White Picapau is an extremely rare Atlantic Forest woodpecker. I was told this is a very signifigant photograph.

Picapau.jpg

The Arada - very large, very aggressive, very loud, says its name when it calls.

IParrot.jpg

This bright blue crow is the state bird of Parana, the Gralha Azul.

GralhaAzul.jpg

These handsome cardinals are so rare that few people of Brazil even know they exisit. Ohio State University would love to own this breeding pair. Interestingly, the males and females carry the same plumage in about 85% of the species here, as opposed to most females lacking bright color up in the Northern hemisphere

Cardinalpair.jpg

Gorgeous bird. I actually have subdued the red hue saturation - it is that striking.

Cardinalsingle.jpg

I felt so privledged to get literally within a whisper of these beautiful creatures!

EssencePP.jpg

Almoco.jpg

Lovebirds.jpg

I treated this shot with a painting effect for presentation to the Passeu Publico. It's now in one of the rooms in the administration building.

TrioPainting.jpg

The Firebird looks like it is ablaze when it flies through the trees. It uses small stiff wings to avoid branches in the jungles. When not perching, the firebird hops branch to branch about as much as it flies.

FirebirdDIC.jpg

This is an extremely shy bird that I quietly stalked for half an hour in a medium sized enclosure to get one shot. The size of a large street pigeon, the Araponga is not in any extinction danger. This one has been staying in Passeu because of injury rehabilitatin. This bird makes a call like a hammer striking an anvil that can be heard for more than a mile away in the mountainous forests where it lives naturally.

Araponga.jpg

This once diseased and dying flamingo has been released back into the wild since this shot was taken.

AWAKENEDFLAMINGO.jpg

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Ron, you've an incredible photographer's eye to go along with your amazing poet's mind. These photos are really something special. I admire black and white photography, especially. The "cousin of the toucan" and the Arada I think are the particular standouts in this collection. Although I love, love, love the White Picapau, blue crow, Araponga and flamingo shots, as well.

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The "cousin of the toucan" and the Arada I think are the particular standouts in this collection.

That shot is titled Savage.

Thanks so much to all who have stopped here, for your time and comments.

This is an ongoing project. I want to continue shooting here on sunny Mondays. In addition to the other animals, I have a desire to photographically record a baby Saki's first year. There is a month old baby in this family. Very hard to get close though, and I don't have a very long lens.

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I rescued a baby pigeon once and took it to a wildlife refuge. He was all feathered over, but couldn't fly yet. He was actually very cute, but looked nothing like any pigeon I'd ever seen.

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We found a baby owl in the garden of the house on the mountain, some years ago. It looked nothing like an owl neither... it was like a ball made of feathers with too big eyes. Too good I saw it before the dog did... it was dark and the guys spent hours looking for the nest on the trees but they didn´t find it. We also had to leave it in the wildlife refuge.

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