We’re excited to announce AFC’s #15th Flag Expedition – Thar: The Great Indian Desert, featuring Nevada, USA artist Sharon Schafer. Sharon recently embarked on her 3-month expedition to India and can be followed via her blog. Sharon’s expedition represents an exploration of the flora, fauna and landscape of the Thar Desert of Rajasthan. At the invitation of Shri Jasnath Asan, a 500-year-old ashram, in Panchla Siddha, India,
Sharon will spend her time in the field photographing and illustrating the unique natural history of the region. This multi-phased project is committed to arid land environmental education and dedicated to fostering an understanding between cultures of our shared responsibilities to our fragile planet.
Throughout the expedition, Sharon aims to compile a library of natural history information and resources from interviews with local and regional biologists and ecologists, as well as build a library of educational images, journal entries, field sketches and watercolors. Her field work will form the foundation for several initiatives promoting environmental education, youth education, and sustainable eco-tourism in the region.
For the project, Sharon has partnered with the Nevada Virtual Academy's Project GLOBAL LAP. The project is a group of sourthern Nevada educators, professionals, artists, and student ambassadors that worth together with counterparts in Panchla Siddha, India.
Through a second partnership, Sharon will be using her work to develop a series of eco-tours in the region to promote environmental awareness among travellers, but more importantly, to engage the local population in much needed sustainable economic development that will build needed incentives and understanding for protecting threatened local flora nad fauna.
The Thar Desert, also known as the Great Indian Desert, extends over 320,000 km2 representing roughly one-tenth of India's geographic area.Although it is one of the smallest deserts in the world, it has remarkably high biodiversity and the most dense human population among major deserts. This has resulted in serious pressure on the ecosystem and natural resources, and consequently the displacement of wildlife, and degradation and loss of critical habitat. Sharon's hope is to play a pivotal role in the reversal of this trend and catalyze long-term environmental protection for the region.