Eco snapping: Capture beauty, clean trash 

Eco snapping, the term for picking up litter while engaging in wildlife photography, was recently brought to life by globally acclaimed author of Management from The Wild – 101 Lessons Learnt, Sarath Eranga Perera. 

With this concept, he hopes to motivate wildlife or nature photographers while they engage in taking photos to also spend a little more time in that given location picking up litter.

Giving us an example of such an instance, he commented: “A few weeks back, we were at the Attidiya Bird Sanctuary in Colombo. After spending time snapping birds and reptiles, we spent a few minutes and collected five bags of litter comprising beer cans, alcohol bottles, beverage bottles, straws, plastic bags, and various types of waste including diapers thrown close to the sanctuary.” Just last weekend, they also conducted an eco snapping session at Sinharaja. 

Eco snapping is also a great way to create awareness for how much danger our planet is in, solely because of manmade disasters. A very simple solution to such an earth-shattering problem would simply be to start by not littering, and recycling whenever possible. Save the planet, one garbage bag at a time. 

He also mentioned that they do this in the presence of the jeep drivers, so that they also understand and learn the concept and will begin to participate themselves, and also explain to other travellers and tourists what eco snapping is. Word of mouth is an effective method of spreading a concept, and for one as important as eco snapping, setting a good example goes a long way. 

Perera also observed many people posting beautiful images of Sri Lanka on social media, which would undoubtedly promote the country and push more people to visit. When more people visit, the amount of pollution is bound to increase. So, if these photographers promote the concept of eco snapping, they are also encouraging their audience to do the same and clean up after themselves once they visit the destination. 

Brunch also spoke to Dr. Sahan Perera, who is also one of the founders of this concept. He commented that as someone who is relatively new to wildlife photography, he can safely say that the joy and satisfaction gained through witnessing and capturing wildlife is second to none. “As much as we gain from engaging in wildlife photography, we all have an inherent responsibility to contribute to its conservation in return. Always remember that ‘the most important rule of co-existence is reciprocity’,” he added. 

In conversation with Sohan Patrick, the other founder of eco snapping, he commented: “I have been photographing animals in the wild for many years, capturing their beauty. But I could not ignore the pollution in which they live. I’m eco snapping to remove trash for the sake of my three children.” 

 He pointed out that it is our duty to safeguard our natural treasures so that future generations may continue to enjoy them for years to come. 

The problem

When it comes to keeping the environment clean, Perera noted that the biggest problem is that we think the government, corporations, and individuals or someone else will clean the mess, and so nobody does anything. The assumption of someone else doing it is the biggest problem. He stated that it is up to us, as citizens of the planet, to keep our home clean. Eco snapping offers everyone the  opportunity for a cleaner and sustainable future. 

“We encourage wildlife or nature photographers to be a part of the solution, not the problem; so, we encourage them to start eco snapping,” stated Perera. 
Perera hopes that eventually, eco snapping will create a culture of “clean what you see”, “so nobody will say look at that mess and blame authorities and individuals but rather take things into their own hands”, he said. 

He concluded: “Like I always say, we should not hope for change but change for hope.”