Abu Hang Samuel’s interest in orchids started with his first encounter with one genus, Oberonia, five years ago when he was 16. The orchid was unlike any he had seen before. Intrigued, he started learning as much as he could.
With an astounding diversity of 27,000 species found across the world, orchids are fascinating beings and his documentation is an attempt at trying to study as many of them as he can. Till date, he has seen around 120 species in the wild, out of which he has properly documented around 70. His process consists of two halves combining two areas of interest: taxonomy (notes, drawings, observations) and photography. He does all of his documentation in-situ, being as careful as possible to not bring any harm to these plants, as their conservation is something he emphasises.
But many orchid species in Nepal are at risk, largely from poachers who collect these wild plants in an unsustainable manner to export them for “medicinal” or horticultural purposes. These plants are poached to the point where a population cannot sustain itself. Climate change and its harbingers, like dry spells or forest fires, can be devastating for many of these slow growing plants with delicate habitats. In the Godavari and Phulchowki landscape, road development has destroyed roadside habitats of many species that grow on trees, slopes or boulders next to these roads. This on a national level spells disaster for Nepal’s orchids.