Mohamad Shuaibi

I am Muhammad Al-Shuaibi, known as "Abu Khalil". I am 37 years old, from the village of Deir Ghasana in the Ramallah District. I am a father of three children. I work at a jewelry store.
I fell in love with wildlife by documenting and photographing it and publishing about it on my personal Facebook account, for more than 7 years.
In 2016, I started as an amateur. I used a simple digital camera to document some animals and birds in the vicinity of my village, which overlooks the Upper Zarqa Valley Reserve.
My presence in this rich region in biodiversity has always motivated me to strive to document new and unique animals and birds, which are little known to the public.
I began to receive support and encouragement from friends and followers on social media. This encouraged me to post remarkable diverse material in our Palestinian environment.
My activity was not limited to Deir Ghassaneh. I constantly visit natural areas throughout the West Bank, from north to south. I have developed photographic equipment to capture high quality shots that show the beauty of these birds and animals from a unique perspective.
Throughout my career, I have not received any financial support from any official or unofficial body. I had to bear the high costs of tools and to travel long hours at my own expense. I don't have much time for my hobby, as I work six days a week. I only have one day in a week to document wildlife. This single day is a special jihad for me in my own way to raise the name of Palestine and establish the existence of a people on this land who cares about raising the name of their country and conveying the beauty of their country to the world. My followers and those interested in the content I publish are my only support. It is a moral support that makes me continue to disseminate my message.
There are many challenges that I face as a wildlife photographer, here in Palestine, especially those caused by the Israeli occupation. When I yearn to document the beauty of nature and wildlife in my country, I am hindered by many challenges and obstacles. I find it difficult to access natural areas and reserves, as the Israeli occupation imposes many restrictions and obstacles on the movement of Palestinians, including required entry permits to access these beautiful areas and reserves. Hence, to make it easier to move around and reach ideal places for photographing, requires overcoming the obstacles and problems that we face in every step we take.
Moreover, the construction of the separation wall and erection of military checkpoints that divide the West Bank into separate sectors, makes transportation among various cities very difficult and complicated. As a photographer, I am forced to overcome these difficulties while trying to navigate and reach beautiful and unique areas.

Furthermore, wildlife photographers in Palestine face security challenges and potential risks. We must understand that photographing sensitive areas and attempting to document wildlife near Israeli settlements poses a danger to individuals. They may be subject to investigation and arrest in the event of filming in prohibited areas. This certainly affects their freedom of movement and their ability to document natural scenes comprehensively and accurately.
It is worth to mention that environmental destruction and climate change are two additional challenges affecting wildlife in Palestine. Moreover, the occupation policies of construction of settlements are a major factor in the destruction of natural areas, leveling of lands, and pollution of water resources. This certainly affects biodiversity and wildlife. This affects the chances of photographers documenting the beauty of nature in Palestine.
Photographers also suffer from problems related to human negative practices towards the environment and biodiversity, such as overhunting of animals, which threatens the very existence of these species. The practice of hunting of deer, partridges, goldfinch, and other animals and birds is widely spread in many areas in Palestine. Also widely spread is the theft of eggs and chicks from nests. Yet another factor is the urban expansion at the expense of agricultural land and animal habitats, or natural areas inhabited by diverse animals.
On the other hand, Palestine is one of the best places in the world to observe the migration of birds. Its skies are considered one of the most suitable paths for the migration of nearly 500 million birds annually due to its distinctive biological and geographical location between Asia and Europe, and its suitable climate. Despite this, we have no specialized bird-watching center, where we can discover different birds and their beauty.
After reviewing the educational curricula, I see that it does not give proper attention. It needs to intensify the method of non-formal education and explore nature and its treasures as a learning tool through experience and exploration.
Despite these challenges and obstacles, I and other wildlife photographers in Palestine continue to strive to document the beauty of nature in our country. We use social media, local and international media to publicize our work and draw attention to the challenges we face. We depend on the moral support and encouragement from followers and those interested in natural photography, and this motivates us to continue our mission and work to document and protect wildlife in Palestine.
In conclusion, I would like to stress my support to every wildlife photographer in Palestine and around the world. Achieving our vision as photographers requires determination, patience and overcoming the challenges we face. We work together to spread the beauty and diversity that surrounds us, and we hope that our continued work will raise awareness of the importance of protecting wildlife and nature in Palestine and everywhere. The Palestinian environment is unique and needs concerted efforts to preserve it for us and for future generations.