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ARTICLES

A journey with Ivan transcends writing and photography. Of course, he shows you where he is, through words and images. But that’s just an entrée. When I read his work, I’m carried into a full tactile experience. I feel the heat of substrate warming my feet. I hear the whoop and whistle of water dancing around rocks as it migrates permanently downstream. I feel Ivan’s adrenaline, the electric tension upon sighting a catfish lurking between rocks. I taste the air, heavy with chirruping bugs.

Conservation relies on empathy for what is being conserved. Empathy relies on communication. Ivan is one of nature’s great translators, communicating to the senses the very emotions of animals, plants, even the land. ‘We are here,’ they say through him. ‘We are here and we matter.’

In an age where many explorers are more interested in their own egos than the habitats they’re trespassing upon, it is a rare find to read discovery narratives tinged with an undercurrent of guilt. ‘I shouldn’t be here,’ Ivan suggests so often, so unwittingly in his work. ‘I shouldn’t be here, but I have to be.’

That is how you describe Ivan Mikolji. The man is a living documentary.

Nathan Hill
Associate Editor of Practical Fishkeeping Magazine, UK

 

Red Line Lizard Tetra Iguanodectes sp in the Wild

Red Line Lizard Tetra Iguanodectes sp in the Wild

The legend says there is a half human creature which appears to people in the middle of nowhere, deep in the middle of the Venezuelan Amazonas jungle. Locals call it “The Primitive Man” and say that it is a bit smaller than a human, hairy and extremely aggressive.

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Wild Aquarium

Wild Aquarium

Wild Aquarium is a movement which involves visiting an aquatic habitat such as a lake, river or stream and setting up a temporal aquarium in situ with the aim of mimicking the habitats seen on the spot.

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Green Neon Tetras in the Wild

Green Neon Tetras in the Wild

“Good morning Ivan. Did you know that we have the best pineapples here in the Amazon?”

“Good morning Alipio, I did not know that. Let’s hurry before we miss the sunrise.”

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Blue Phantom Plecos L128 Hemiancistrus sp in the wild

Blue Phantom Plecos L128 Hemiancistrus sp in the wild

There are two incredible things that make the Blue Phantom Plecos habitat even more special. The first one is that in some areas the chrome rocks are filled with some of the world’s largest rock art, also referred to as pre-columbian petroglyphs.

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Oscar Cichlids in the Wild

Oscar Cichlids in the Wild

Oscars are present in many countries in South America. They have adapted to diverse water conditions, river systems, and coexist with different species.

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The Scarecory

The Scarecory

I am standing in the middle of the creek, motionless. The sky is blue with no clouds and the sun is shining brightly. A soft tropical breeze is swaying the tree canopy which seems over 20 meters above. Boy, the trees are tall in this place.

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Amazon Leaffish in the Wild

Amazon Leaffish in the Wild

M. polyacanthus is a widespread species present in many South American countries from Bolivia up to the Orinoco River, in southern Venezuela.

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Three Spotted Eartheaters

Three Spotted Eartheaters

Satanoperca daemon are very common in most rivers south of the Apure River in Venezuela. The locals refer to them as Horse Face or Earth Suckers.

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Cleared and Stained

Cleared and Stained

The diaphonization process uses many chemicals which can be bought in a pharmacy or chemical store. It is important to handle all these chemicals correctly and with caution.

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The Link Between Science and Art

The Link Between Science and Art

Creating environmental artwork is not as easy as it seems. Preparations start way before the actual expeditions take place. I usually start by asking some of the worlds best botanists, ichthyologists, and entomologists, who have teamed up with me in my ventures, which specimens they have no images of.

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Piranha Land

Piranha Land

I am so lucky to live in a country which is plagued with piranhas. You can say it is Piranha Land. In Venezuela, piranhas are found in five of our seven freshwater basins.

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Exploring a Morichal

Exploring a Morichal

Morichales is the common name given to a group of Mauritia flexuosa palm trees. Moriche palm trees are widespread across tropical South America which are called canangucho in Colombia and aguaje in Peru.

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Close Encounters of the Cichla Kind

Close Encounters of the Cichla Kind

Cichla are pelagic fish that spend their lives swimming in open water. Even though they tend to swim near the banks of the rivers, they do not live in the littoral zone, they feed in it. In the deep, open, profundal areas.

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