Sunday, February 27, 2011

Last Chance To See

Hallo everyone, as with my other posts, this post is still a write up on how I was inspired to draw some of my sketches in the Sketchbook Project. I know this sounds incongruous, but I'd like to recommend a book to you first. If you like National Geographic, or like animals, please do read this book. If not, watching the BBC series is a good alternative too.

Now, why would I recommend a non-fiction book written by a very likeable English bloke about his globe trotting wilderness adventures with another very funny English bloke and how does this book have anything to do with my sketches for the Sketchbook Project?

If you've caught the BBC series, "Last Chance to See" on cable tv, you may know why (I like this book). I have to admit, before seeing the BBC series, I've never heard of Mark Carwardine, or that he is a renowned zoologist, photographer and a leading conservationist. However I do know who Stephen Fry was, and not because he is an accomplished TV personality, a presenter, actor, comedian in Britain, but because I've seen him guest starred in the Fox crime series, 'Bones', a drama which I adore.

In my opinion, Mr Mark Carwardine has an inimitable writing style, full of wit and humour, a little like Mr Stephen Fry, but more self deprecating, and at the same time, very serious about his work as a zoologist and conservationist.

In the book, Mark and Stephen traipsed the jungles of Amazon, almost dodged bullets in a certain strife ridden part of Africa, sailed the Pacific seas, and did a ton more other exciting things in the name of checking out how the highly endandered animals were faring since they were previously documented by Mark and the deceased Mr Douglas Adams (author of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe) in the original 'Last Chance to See' book and BBC radio series.

One of the endangered animals Mark and Stephen strove to see was the Northern white rhino. I said 'strove' because they never got to see it. The closest they got was seeing its evolutionary cousin, the Southern white rhino. The Northern white rhino was unfortunately located in the cross fire of a war zone, and it would prove too dangerous for the crew to venture into the area even though they tried getting as close to the area as possible, at the other side of the war-torn borders.

The sketch below is of the Southern white rhino.

When Mark and Stephen went to Madagascar to see the elusive 'aye aye', they also stopped by Baobab alley, where a row of baobab trees grew in 2 neat parallel lines. They are also known as 'upside down trees' because of their appearance - massive swollen trunks and stubby, twisty branches.

This was my initial sketch.

And this is my final, after adding colours.

Now you know why I had to recommend the book. If not for the book and the BBC series, I guess most of us would not have been aware of how perilous the situation was for many of the endangered animals today. The fact that it inspired 2 of my sketches is a complete coincidence.

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