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Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent

Award-win­ning Ugan­dan-born na­ture pho­tog­ra­pher Matthias Mugisha in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Sher­a­ton Kam­pala Ho­tel is hold­ing an ex­hi­bi­tion of his pho­to­graphs of birds in the wild. The ex­hi­bi­tion, ti­tled

opened to the pub­lic on Novem­ber 15, and will run till Jan­uary 14, 2019.

The show is co-spon­sored by Na­ture Uganda, the Uganda Wildlife Au­thor­ity, Uganda Tourism Board, Na­tion Me­dia Group, Uganda Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion, and Snap Uganda Tours.

More than 200 pic­tures were se­lected for the ex­hi­bi­tion but less than 40 are on show. Some of the pic­ture at the ex­hi­bi­tion have been ar­tis­ti­cally en­hanced by cel­e­brated Ugan­dan artist David Kibuuka. The ull range of Mugisha's pic­tures are in the ex­hi­bi­tion book

while oth­ers will be pub­lished in his forth­com­ing

Mugisha is fa­mous for track­ing down birds en­demic to Uganda in their nat­u­ral habi­tat for days on end just to get the per­fect shot. Some of the birds he has caught on cam­era are the Grey-crowned Crane (Uganda's na­tional bird), Lesser Flamingo, Shoe­bill, Grey-headed Spar­row, African Thrush, Red-throated Bee-eater, Brown-throated Wat­tle-eye, White-tailed Blue-fly Catcher, White-throated Bee-eater, Vil­lage Weaver, White-el­lied Go-away-bird, Pa­pyrus Gonolek, White-crested Hel­met Shrike, Black-headed Heron, African Skim­mer, and Red-pate Cis­ti­cola.

Uganda has 50 per cent of Africa's bird species and 11 per cent of the global pop­u­la­tion, with over 1,060 species so far recorded in the coun­try. “In my 18 years of pho­tog­ra­phy I have man­aged to get 500 bird species in Uganda on cam­era,” Mugisha says. “De­spite this,” Mugisha ob­serves, “most Ugan­dans are not aware of the tourism po­ten­tial in bird­ing and the im­por­tance of birds to our en­vi­ron­ment.”

Mugisha has won sev­eral awards in the an­nual Uganda Press Photo Award com­pe­ti­tions in­clud­ing the 2012 edi­tion. He won the Over­all and Third prizes in the News Sin­gle cat­e­gory, and Sec­ond po­si­tion in the En­vi­ron­ment cat­e­gory.

He has held ex­hi­bi­tions in Uganda and his pic­tures have been shown abroad.

His pub­lic pro­file on the web­site of the Na­tional Geo­graphic web­site, sums up his love for the cam­era: “I like be­ing around na­ture. I like all crea­tures, big and small for they show me the hand of Mother Na­ture as the mas­ter artist. With­out my cam­era, there is no need to live,” his state­ment reads.

The big­gest chal­lenge in na­ture pho­tog­ra­phy, says Mugisha, is that no­body takes you se­ri­ously. Few peo­ple can com­pre­hend an adult sit­ting in a hide for hours wait­ing for a cer­tain bird to show up.

‘‘I have been ar­rested twice. My cam­era was mis­taken for a gun in a swamp near Katosi in Mukono dis­trict of Kam­pala. The vil­lagers thought I was a rebel. I was busy shoot­ing and they threw a hunt­ing net around me. I was saved by the po­lice whom the vil­lagers had told I was a rebel.'

‘‘The sec­ond time, a landowner in Gayaza thought I was sur­vey­ing his land. I was ar­rested by a mob on sus­pi­cion of be­ing a land grab­ber. I was saved when I showed them a book on na­ture I had pub­lished for my photo ex­hi­bi­tion at the Kam­pala Ser­ena Ho­tel in 2012 to com­mem­o­rate 50 years of Uganda's In­de­pen­dence.''

Mugisha's pic­tures were used by the Uganda Tourism Board to adorn the VIP Lounge at the En­tebbe In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

Mugisha holds a Diploma in Pho­tog­ra­phy from the Asian Acad­emy of Film and Tele­vi­sion in Noida, In­dia.

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