Everyone has a hobby. Trond Larsen’s is photography.

As the Rapid Assessment Program director at Conservation International, Larsen spends his days organizing international teams of scientists to find and document wildlife in far-flung locales. His camera goes with him to the wild, and his photos — predominantly of the animals he encounters in the field — have appeared everywhere from National Geographic to The New Yorker.

But Larsen can claim one photographic achievement that few on Earth can rival: One of his photos is on money. A shot that Larsen captured of a small, rarely seen frog was recently selected to grace a banknote in Madagascar.

This is the unlikely story of how a scientist’s zeal to find a frog “paid off.”

It started with a workshop — and a desire to sight-see.

“We were in Madagascar for meetings around a project we were doing,” said Rachel Neugarten, director of priority-setting at Conservation International. “So we had a workshop, and then a few of us organized a field trip for those who wanted to stay to try to see a little bit of Madagascar.”

The group, including Neugarten, Larsen and a few other staff, found a guide willing to take them through Ranomafana National Park, in the southeastern part of the island. Their mission for that day: to help Larsen find a tiny frog known of the genus Mantella.

Mantella frogs, of which there are more than a dozen species, are endemic to the island of Madagascar — meaning they live nowhere else on Earth. Small and brightly colored, they are reminiscent of their more famous South American cousins, the poison dart frogs.

“I was searching for this species because I really wanted to observe and photograph them,” Larsen said. “I told everyone in the group, ‘I’m not leaving until I find a mantella.’ ”

It’s an intensity that any breed of enthusiast, from birdwatchers to trainspotters, can understand.

“It’s been one of his ‘bucket list’ species that he’s been wanting to see his whole life,” Neugarten said.

The challenge: finding a tiny animal that does not want to be found.

“They tend to have very narrow distribution, with several species across Madagascar,” Larsen said. The species he was after, he said, was not endangered but it is hard to find, typically hiding under logs.

Fortunately, the team had an able guide.

“The guide knew exactly where this frog was,” Neugarten said.

Needless to say, it isn’t always so. Larsen’s work to find and document wildlife has taken him places few humans have ever seen. But this time? No bug-bitten treks through thick rainforest. No grueling canoe trips upriver. No hiking through miles of rugged, remote terrain. This time, the object of his search was just there, a short distance off the side of a road.

“We had to drive through one of the local communities to a little wetland area,” Neugarten said. “The guide hopped out of the car, walked a few yards in and came back with one of these frogs. He knew exactly where they were and how to find them.”

Moments later, a glimpse of the rare critter he came to see: Mantella baroni, not much larger than an adult’s thumb. Glistening and vibrant, its bright neon-green front legs and tiger-striped rear legs contrasted with the deep, dark black of its body.

Larsen, needless to say, was thrilled.

“At this moment, Trond is, like, beside himself, and he sets up this photo like a professional, and he’s taking pictures and having this out-of-body experience,” Neugarten said. “And the rest of us are just beside ourselves laughing because it’s a beautiful frog, but none of us has this connection to it that he does.”

Larsen managed to get within inches of the frog, who let him take several close-ups before hopping back into the undergrowth.

Given the importance of photography in nature conservation, it’s no surprise that a scientist would carry a camera around. But Larsen has taken his nature photography to a level few other researchers can match — and he is almost completely self-taught.

“The chance to artistically capture the beauty of [wildlife] is just really appealing,” he said. “I started to play around when I got my first SLR (camera), and I would bring a camera every time I was doing field work.”

“I took some pretty terrible shots at first, but you learn, and I started overlapping with professional photographers in the field and learned a lot of tricks from those guys.”

In 2017, Larsen was part of a small team of researchers selected to travel to a sensational archaeological find in Honduras. The site, known locally as “City of the Monkey God,” lay hidden for centuries within a concealed valley in the Mosquitia rainforest; its location remains a secret. The team’s perilous expedition to survey the area’s wildlife was chronicled in a story published earlier this year in The New Yorker— illustrated, naturally, by Larsen’s photos of the region’s rare amphibians and venomous snakes.

After his work trip to Madagascar, Larsen uploaded his frog shots to Conservation International’s in-house photo database and forgot about them.

Two years later, Larsen received an email. It was from Conservation International’s Madagascar office.

“They wrote me and said, basically, ‘Hey, the government’s interested in using your photo for a new banknote, would you be willing to let them use it?’ ”

The country’s previous series of banknotes had been in circulation for about a decade, according to Secura Monde, a consulting company for the currency industry, when the government decided in 2016 to refresh them.

The theme for the new series: “the riches of Madagascar.” Whom better to ask than a conservation group?

“When the government decided to create new banknotes, the Central Bank asked me to share some ideas related to nature,” said Sahondra Rajoelina, Conservation International Madagascar’s country director.

Rajoelina’s team sent along a few options, including Larsen’s frog. A signed agreement granted the government the right to use the photo — Larsen said he was happy to give it freely for their use.

The diminutive amphibian suits the small-change 100-ariary bill, which is worth about 3 U.S. cents. But this means Larsen’s shot will be well-circulated in a country where nearly 80 percent of the population lives on less than US$ 2 a day.

“It is going to be seen a lot,” he said.

As for his photography, Larsen continues to bring his camera with him to the field — not for the recognition, but for science.

“My research is first, of course, but you can always make time for photos.”

Chennai Coin Society(CCS) Conducts its 3rd Coin Fair for 3 Consecutive Days at Aruna Palace Saligramam, Chennai, There was Mixed Audience of Dealers, Collectors and Hobbiest, We from Banknotecoinstamp.com had our Dealers stall here, Here are some Images from the Exhibition

Chennai Coin Society 2019 Expo Video
Chennai Coin Society 2019 Coin Fair
Chennai Coin Society 2019 Coin Fair
Chennai Coin Society 2019 Coin Fair
Chennai Coin Society 2019 Coin Fair
Chennai Coin Society 2019 Coin Fair
Chennai Coin Society 2019 Coin Fair
Chennai Coin Society 2019 Coin Fair
Chennai Coin Society 2019 Coin Fair

Chennai: The release of two commemorative coins of Rs 100 and Rs 5 denominations by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami marked the 102nd anniversary of AIADMK founder and former CM MGR in the city on Thursday.

Both the CM and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, who presented a picture of unity, released the coins, issued to mark the birth centenary of the late matinee idol-turned politician M. G. Ramachandran, who is popularly known as MGR. The commemorative coins were released at a function held at the Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University complex here. The coins bear the image of MGR and contain the inscription ‘DR. M.G. Ramachandran Birth Centenary.’

A 66-feet wide and 52-feet high “Dr MGR Centenary Arch,” constructed on the arterial Kamarajar road, off the famous Marina beach here, was also unveiled to mark the occasion.

The iconic leader who broke away from the DMK in 1972 owing to differences with the then party chief late M. Karunanidhi, had floated the AIADMK. He captured power in 1977 and ruled the State for ten years without a break till his death. Three-time Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, MGR was awarded the Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1988.

Palaniswami and  Panneerselvam, who are the joint coordinator and coordinator of the AIADMK, were accompanied by their cabinet colleagues and other senior party leaders in garlanding the statues of MGR and late CM J. Jayalalithaa at the party headquarters in the city where hundreds of party cadres also gathered. Sweets were distributed to the party workers on the occasion.

The state government had organised MGR centenary celebrations for a year in all the districts, for a year beginning at Madurai on June 30, 2017. The valedictory was held here on September 30 last year.

Currency that would be detectable to visually impaired is really a matter of concern. In India, banks do not provide a special currency for those who cannot see, which is why the Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked the Centre and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to file response to a plea seeking to make all currency and the digital means of banking transactions accessible to the visually impaired.

Good quality of services are assured in the developed countries, including America and United Kingdom, where there is a small section of visually impaired people are living.

What does the plea say?

The plea was filed by Blind Graduates Forum of India through advocate Ila Haldia.

It is now with a division Bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V. Kameswar Rao, who issued the notice to the Central government

Therefore, the forum’s counsel has sought direction to lay down standards for the design of banknotes and coins and make all forms of physical currency and the digital means of transactions accessible to the visually impaired.

The forum has also requested the court to issue a direction to stop the circulation of the inaccessible physical currency and withdraw all such inaccessible physical currency in a phased manner.

The forum has requested the court to stop the circulation of the inaccessible physical currency and withdraw all such inaccessible physical currency in a phased manner.

Changes to be made in currency

  • In order to make bank notes accessible to visually impaired people, notes and coins will be designed accordingly
  • All forms of physical currency and the digital means of transactions will be made accessible to them
  • Further, the ATMs and net banking services will be made accessible to the visually impaired
  • Also, they will be given technological solutions viable for the visually impaired and compliance of such accessibility standards.

Why we should think about the blind?

According to Global Data on Visual Impairment report by WHO (2010), India has the second largest visually impaired people, i.e. 118 million.

Also, it is a great matter of concern for countries across the globe, for people with disabilities are the world’s largest and fastest-growing minority group.

India is said to have the maximum number of blind people in the world.

According to media reports, of the 37 million people across the globe who are blind, over 15 million are in India.

Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Article 9 enables persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life and also gives them access to facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and rural areas.

Additionally, Article 12 states “Parties shall take all appropriate and effective measures to ensure the equal right of persons with disabilities to own or inherit property, to control their own financial affairs and to have equal access to bank loans, mortgages and other forms of financial credit, and shall ensure that persons with disabilities are not arbitrarily deprived of their property.”

Where does India stand?

With the boom of technology, the concept of Digital India opened doors for visually impaired people.

The apps on social media works on voice recognition

Also, these technological innovations include screen readers, OCR (Optical Character Recognition) devices, magnifiers, etc.

However, these needs to be fused with banks, making it easier for the blind people in every field.

Commemorative coins are to be minted and placed into circulation to mark the Asian Cup being held in the UAE.

The Central Bank of the UAE has minted 1,000 silver coins, which are worth 50 dirhams each, as part of the footballing festivities.

They have been handed to the football tournament’s organising committee, with the back depicting the Asian Cup logo.

A collection of one dirham coins have also been created, which will be placed into general circulation. One side depicts Mansour and Jarrah, the tournament’s official mascots.

The Asian Cup is currently being hosted in the UAE, with 24 teams aiming to be crowned champions of the continent.

The special one dirham coin

The host nation kicked off their bid for glory with a 1-1 draw with Middle East neighbours Bahrain on Saturday.

The tournament has already thrown up its fair share of surprises, with defending champions Australia losing their opening clash with Jordan and outsiders India thrashing Thailand 4-1.

The UAE are next in action on Thursday, when they take on the surprise package Indian side in Abu Dhabi.

Asian Cup passport stamps have also been rolled out to mark the tournament, which runs until February 1 and is being held across the Emirates.

Previously, the UAE has minted coins to mark special occasions such as the Chess Olympiad in Dubai in 1986 and the country’s qualification for the Italia’ 90 football World Cup.