We are very pleased and thank­full to intro­duce to you the new ambassador of BOS Germany. Jaya­pra­kash Bojan won the National Geogra­phic Nature Photo­gra­pher of the Year in 2017 with the picture of a male oran­gutan stan­ding in a river. His pictures are well known to oran­gutan-friends all around the world.
In the inter­view, he talks about his passion, what impresses him and how his haun­ting oran­gutan pictures were created.

Welcome in the family of BOS. Thank you for your commit­ment for the oran­gutans. With your pictures you touch many people and make them aware of the situa­tion of the criti­cally endan­gered primates. Now you are an ambassador for BOS Germany. What does that mean to you? 

I AM very EXCITED AND HUMBLED at the same time to be asked to repre­sent BOS Germany as an ambassador. It’s an honor! Over the last few years, I have been trying to influ­ence and educate people with my photo stories on the oran­gutans, their disap­pearing rain­fo­rests and their chal­lenges. I think with this part­nership with BOS, which is the largest and most impactful oran­gutan conser­va­tion orga­niz­a­tion, I can now make a bigger impact with my pictures and stories and take it to a larger audi­ence across the world.

 

In 2017 National Geogra­phic awarded you for the picture of a domi­nant male oran­gutan with the prize Photo­gra­pher of the year. What is the story behind this picture? 

I fell in love with primates, specially the oran­gutan, when I first saw them in a zoo in Sing­a­pore. That was the trigger for me to travel to Borneo to see them initi­ally. In late 2016 I was in Kali­mantan sear­ching for oran­gutans from a boat on the river. One morning I met one of the local rangers who told me he had seen a male often ventu­ring into deep waters, which was very unusual for oran­gutans since they are prima­rily arbo­real. With their help I spent days sear­ching and waiting to see the oran­gutan in the river and one fine morning it all happened. And the rest was history. Both National geogra­phic and BBC published my series. If you have seen the pictures you would know what I am talking about.

 

You are travel­ling around the world, shoo­ting very inten­sive photos of wild­life and animals in remote places. But you have a special link to oran­gutans. Why? What is the special bond between you and the red primates? Why are they fasci­na­ting you? 

In general, I love primates and my love affair with the red apes happened when I was in a river neck deep in water with my camera and a male oran­gutan walking with his hand up in the air in the croco­dile infested waters. While I tried my best to compose some pictures that could trans­late my feelings at that moment in the river with that oran­gutan, I don’t think I have the words to express how I felt. It was a godly expe­ri­ence! They are so much like us in their beha­vior if you have watched them and they are extre­mely sensi­tive and intel­li­gent. Some­times when I am taking pictures, I talk to them like I am spea­king to another human. I know it sounds silly but that‘s just me. 

 

What must be done to help the orangutans? 

Over the years we have lost about 100.000 or may be more oran­gutans to habitat loss and illegal wild­life trade. I have seen Borneo before and after big forest fires and it hurts to see their homes destroyed. For me it’s criti­cally important to save the lowland rain­fo­rests from being destroyed, in order to save the oran­gutans and the thousands of other species of flora and fauna that can only be found in Borneo. Conser­va­tion is not possible without the local government support and more import­antly without the invol­ve­ment of local villages and commu­nities. The last aspect is funds. That’s key in today’s situa­tion. It’s impos­sible to do large scale conser­va­tion without money and I want to take this oppor­tu­nity to thank people across the world who have always generously supported conser­va­tion over the years.

So that people can get to know you better: How did you become a photographer? 

I grew up in the hills in Nilgiris, Tamil­nadu, India surrounded by a lot of wild­life. I started photo­graphy as a hobby a decade ago and one day a few years ago decided to quit my 18-year corpo­rate journey to pursue my passion for nature, wild­life and photo­graphy. I am now a full­time photo­gra­pher and spend most of my time in shoo­ting conser­va­tion and envi­ron­ment related photo stories. I also teach photo­graphy and speak at schools and insti­tu­tions to encou­rage people to fall in love with wild­life and care for them. 

 

Why did you decide to dedi­cate yourself to nature photography? 

When I started my journey it was all about taking beau­tiful pictures of ever­ything I saw but over a period of time as I travelled more, I felt more at home with nature and just being out there in the wild made me happy and content. Now I am more focused on story telling that can make a posi­tive impact to nature and wild­life and it’s no longer about just taking beau­tiful pictures. 

What is your favo­rite moment as a photographer? 

One of my favo­rite moments has been watching and photo­gra­phing an Oran­gutan mother and her newborn baby and their rela­ti­onship. It’s a divine and unfor­gett­able experience. 

What is your biggest inspiration? 

As a photo­gra­pher I get a lot of visi­bi­lity because people across the world get to see my photo stories through social media, exhi­bi­tions and other chan­nels. But the true heroes are those in the front line who are out there day in and day out slog­ging it out to save the forest and the species. There are so many people and inspi­ring stories from people I have met in the field who are my inspi­ra­tions. For example, I met this guy in Borneo who has knife slashes all over his body because he was figh­ting the logging mafia from destroying the forests. There are many unsung heroes the world has not seen or heard off. 

 

As a nature photo­gra­pher you have trav­eled all over the world and have faced lots of envi­ron­mental issues. What makes you sad and what gives you hope? 

It makes me sad to see forests, rivers and oceans being destroyed across the world but I am opti­mistic that we can still save what’s left of this beau­tiful world. Along my journey I meet so many wonderful people who still care for the earth and so many unsung heroes who are figh­ting to save our forest, animals, rivers and oceans. That makes me hopeful. 

What is your next project? 

South east Asia has some of the most endan­gered primates in the world. While I continue to focus on oran­gutans and envi­ron­ment stories, I am also working on a book on primates of south east Asia. So many more primates to find and photo­graph before I can publish.