World Wildlife Day: 5 wildlife photographers and conservationists who will inspire you to save our forests and their inhabitants

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I have been an animal lover all my life, but my first date with a safari was only in 2018. My visit to the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve is memorable, not only because I spotted popular tigress Maya – I mean sure I was on cloud nine when I got to watch the majestic being do her own thing for a good 15 minutes but also because I learned a lot about nature and wildlife by participating in a few game drives. There is no doubt that the sight of a big cat in the wild fascinates you. However, today many people go on safari with the desire to see only the animals the jungle is known for. In my opinion, it does not stop there. There’s so much more than bragging about spotting a big cat. Instead, take a moment to appreciate the forest and its landscape. The forest has so much to offer. It was here that I learned that tigers are territorial animals and need lots of space to thrive, but cannot due to deforestation.

Fast forward to today, our green pastures have increased (surprisingly, I know) and so has the tiger population. And it’s all thanks to some of the best wildlife advocates we have today.

My camera is my best companion on safaris and as soon as I spot a fascinating animal, I instantly try to capture it. When I get home, I always share a photo of the animals I spotted and try to share some knowledge about them. That’s exactly what tons of wildlife photographers, presenters and conservationists do too, but on a much larger scale, of course, because they do it for a living and are dedicated to the cause of preservation of the ecosystem. This World Wildlife Day, check out some of the passionate wildlife photographers and conservationists who are the best in the business. Through their social media, you will learn a lot about animal conservation. And if you are a wildlife enthusiast like me, don’t be surprised if you are tempted to go on game drives more often and learn more about the different forests and animals of India.

1. Shaaz Jung

Remember when photos of a gorgeous black panther went viral on social media in 2020? Named Saya, the black panther from the dense forest of Kabini in the Nagarhole of Karnataka was photographed by Shaaz Jung. The photographer and filmmaker spent three years tracking and filming Saya for a National Geographic documentary.

Jung’s love for animals was shaped by his parents who spent a lot of time in the forest and instilled in him a deep love for wildlife. But if you follow Shaaz on Instagram, you’ll see just how much he loves leopards. His first encounter with a leopard was with a young man he called Scarface and photos and videos from his early days tell us the introduction of Scarface is what made Shaaz fall in love with wildlife photography. . “I learned more from leopards than humans,” Shaaz said in an interview. As well as capturing big cats in the wild, he also runs wildlife lodges in East Africa and South India, one of them being his family’s eco-resort The Bison in Kabini. .

2. Aishwarya Sridhar

Aishwarya Sridhar spotted her first tiger when she was 10 years old in Pench National Park, Madhya Pradesh. This sparked in her a love for wildlife and launched her on a journey of exploring nature through photography and film. In 2020, 24-year-old Aishwarya became the first Indian woman to receive the 56th Wildlife Photographer of the Year award for a stunning shot of fireflies. She also filmed the documentary, Tiger Queen Of Taru, which aired on National Geographic this year and chronicled the remarkable life of Maya of the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve. Recently, she became the first Indian selected as a member of the Emerging League of the International League of Conservation Photographers, USA. Apart from tigers, Aishwarya also likes to get creative by photographing insects.

During an interview with ELLE, she explained how photography helps raise awareness of conservation and said, “For me, conservation is about protecting the present so that future generations can prosper as much as we do. And as a filmmaker and wildlife photographer, I can create that impact. The visual support is strong and hard to ignore. I hope my photographs and films evoke this passion, engage people and empower them to take action, to stand up and raise their voices against environmental injustice and create a sense of love for the environment.

3. Suyash Keshari

The 26-year-old wildlife photographer, presenter and conservationist has a very engaging and fun Instagram account. While you’ll see beautiful shots of animals, mostly tigers, Suyash is still educating his followers about animal behavior and the need to save their habitat. Plus, it’s super relatable, which draws you even more into the subject. His passion for wildlife developed from childhood. In 2019, Suyash left his full-time political advocacy job in Washington DC, USA to become a full-time wildlife presenter. He produced his first #SafariWithSuyash series for WWF International, a real-life web series about a youngster’s life with tigers and the conservation issues surrounding the species, centered on Bandhavgarh National Park. And has now launched the world’s first wildlife OTT platform, Safari with Suyash-TV.

wildlife photographers
Suyash Keshari

He swears by the quote: “What we can see, we can love.” And what we can love, we will fight to protect. And that is his goal: to tell stories that would spark passion in the hearts and minds of people around the world and inspire them to play their part in conserving our natural heritage. As part of this effort, Suyash also leads wildlife safaris and photography tours throughout India and Africa – a part-time job that I definitely envision in my future!

4. Nisha Purushothaman

Currently based in Vancouver, Canada, the wildlife photographer and conservationist strongly believes that people need more awareness about the planet and should travel and see the already fragile ecosystem. Only then can they do their bit to help conserve the earth’s resources. Growing up, Nisha had access to the wildlife around her. Due to her father’s job in the Indian Air Force, she constantly moved from house to house. Some had a mini-forest just steps from its door, another was close to a snake temple, and some with backyards featuring more than ten varieties of birds. Naturally, his interest turned to passion.

From the backwaters and rainforests of India to the grassy plains of the Masai Mara; from the Ngorongoro Crater to the deserts of the Middle East, she has spent days and nights passionately following the landscapes, flora and fauna, birds and wildlife of these places. To start conversations about conservation, she co-founded Paw Trails, a community of photographers, wildlife lovers, travelers and conservationists, with Hermis Haridas.

5. Rathika Ramasamy

If you are a bird lover, Rathika’s Instagram profile will inspire and educate you. She has photographed so many species that her account has become like a digital encyclopedia of birds. Interestingly, Rathika is India’s first female wildlife photographer! She has always been drawn to nature, especially birds, which have become her source of inspiration. Although she was lucky enough to enter the software industry, she chose her passion and made a career out of it. His first steps into wildlife photography started at Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in Rajasthan, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Fast forward to today, the Chennai-based photographer is a founding member of WCI (Wildlife Conservation of India) and holds many accolades, one of them being recognized as the world’s best-known female photographer on Internet in 2018.

wildlife photographers

She also leads conferences to raise awareness of the importance of conserving and safeguarding nature for future generations. For her, wildlife photography is not only a passion but also a powerful way to connect and conserve nature. With that in mind, she clicks each image with the motto: Every time I press the shutter, it’s one step closer to Mother Nature.

Main image courtesy of Pexels

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