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(File pix) Young buffalo whisperer, Mohd Syukur Khamis lounging on the body of a buffalo at Kampung Kubang Bujuk. Pix by NSTP/Ghazali Kori

KUALA TERENGGANU: It never crossed the mind of 14-year-old Mohd Syukur Khamis that something normal to him would become viral on social media and even lead to a photographer taking home an award.

His bond and love for his father's buffaloes led to pictures of it going viral and garnered love from Netizens, including Federal Territory mufti Dr Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri.

Dr Zulkifli said he was impressed with the bond Mohd Syukur shared with the animal which he described as sincere.

The viral photos of the Form 2 student at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Padang Midin was taken by photographers "Dollah Deen Photography" from Kelantan, as well as Mohd Nazri Sulaiman, who is from Terengganu but resides in Kuala Lumpur.

The uniqueness of one of the photos captured led to Mohd Nazri winning the Street/People Photographer of the Year award at the 2018 Asian Geographic - Image of Asia, as well as the Remarkable Award at the 2018 Siena International Photography Award in Italy.

Mohd Syukur said ever since he was four-years-old, he had been following his father Khamis Jusoh, 63, to the buffalo pen in Kampung Kubang Bujuk, here.

(File pix) Mohd Syukur Khamis, 14 with his father’s herd of buffaloes at Kampung Kubang Bujuk. Pix by NSTP/Ghazali Kori

This led to the boy having developed the skills to bond with the animals.

In fact, upon observation, it looked as though the animals obeyed the boy's commands, making it easy to photograph them together.

Mohd Syukur said he was not afraid of the buffaloes, and considered them his friends.

"Some people think I have some charm to make these animals listen to me. Perhaps they think that because I am so used to these animals since I was small, so they know who I am and they listen to me.

"I am not just good with buffaloes, I am also close to the cows, goats and geese that my father rears," he said.

"For photography sessions, photographers often choose buffaloes because we have more than 100," he said.

Mohd Syukur has attracted photographers from all over the world, including the United States of America and India since 2016.

Being close to the animals led to Mohd Syukur naming some of them.

(File pix) The photo of Mohd Syukur Khamis (pix) with a herd buffaloes helped Mohd Nazri Sulaiman won the Street/People Photographer of the Year award at the 2018 Asian Geographic Image of Asia. Pix by NSTP/Ghazali Kori

"Awang, Wahab, Saat, Boy" are among the names he picked and these animals would mingle with him like they were human as some also slept next to him when he was younger.

"Saat the goat is close to me. After three days of being born, his mother died and I fed him milk everyday, and I took care of him to a point I would bring him in the house to sleep with me.

"The buffalo that is closest to me was Awang, and he was also the one who would accompany me the most in photoshoots, but he died," Mohd Syukur said.

The youngest of eight said despite attracting photographers, his family never set any form of payment. They were just happy to share the joy when a photographer would win an award for the photos they took of Mohd Syukur and his "pets".

"Some photographers would tip me, and I accept. But if they don't, it's fine. I am thankful for my skills. Up until now, I have collected about RM1,000 from these tips, I am very thankful," he said.

"I am not proud that I became viral. I am just happy because people used to put my father down for working as a buffalo breeder. But today, I am happy to make my father proud and to be able to change people's perception towards what my father does for a living," he said when met at his home in Kampung Banggol Katong, here.

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