Photography, Wildlife, Travel
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Studio updates.

Coexistence

We always wonder if coexistence of humans and animals is possible. Bera in Rajasthan proves that it is possible and today is known as Leopard Country because of a good leopard population in the region. Bera is not a protected area, it actually is revenue land. There are more than 30 odd hills where leopards reside.

 Bera is around 700 kms away from New Delhi if you wish to drive or you can also fly to Udaipur. It takes 3 hours to reach Bera from Udaipur by road.   

Bera is around 700 kms away from New Delhi if you wish to drive or you can also fly to Udaipur. It takes 3 hours to reach Bera from Udaipur by road.

 

 We parked ourselves on a hill, in the afternoon, and it was told to us that there is a leopardess with cubs on another hill. This was the first visit and we had no idea what to expect. We did not know how far or close she was going to be. We waited for 2.5 hours with no movement. Light was fading and we almost lost hope of seeing or capturing images of the leopard. It was around 5.45 pm, when I turned suddenly and saw some movement. Here she was, coming out of a cave.

We parked ourselves on a hill, in the afternoon, and it was told to us that there is a leopardess with cubs on another hill. This was the first visit and we had no idea what to expect. We did not know how far or close she was going to be. We waited for 2.5 hours with no movement. Light was fading and we almost lost hope of seeing or capturing images of the leopard. It was around 5.45 pm, when I turned suddenly and saw some movement. Here she was, coming out of a cave.

 And there she was, watching us taking her images. They are so easy to miss since they merge so well with the terrain. A tractor passed by, not bothering her in the least. She was home.

And there she was, watching us taking her images. They are so easy to miss since they merge so well with the terrain. A tractor passed by, not bothering her in the least. She was home.

 In the fading light, we left her and went back to our lodge. We now knew that they exist. The next morning was really cold and we headed out searching for leopards again. One hill to another but couldnt find them. There were several hills so a good tracker with a trained eye was a necessity.  Later in the day, we were told that a leopardess and her cubs were seen on another hill close to Jawai Dam, a beautiful spot where I would have loved to spend some more time.Will make it a point to do so on my next visit.   

In the fading light, we left her and went back to our lodge. We now knew that they exist. The next morning was really cold and we headed out searching for leopards again. One hill to another but couldnt find them. There were several hills so a good tracker with a trained eye was a necessity.

Later in the day, we were told that a leopardess and her cubs were seen on another hill close to Jawai Dam, a beautiful spot where I would have loved to spend some more time.Will make it a point to do so on my next visit.

 

 At this point of time, I’d like to mention that my drive to the top of the hill tops all the off-roading experiences I’ve had so far. Imagine driving in the jeep on a path. Hold on, there was no path! I was mostly driving on rocks at a trajectory of 70% degrees. It was an experience that I will remember for a long time to come.  Once we reached the top and our tracker informed us that he had seen the leopardess with her cubs last evening. The same leopardess was also believed to have killed a sheep. It was hard to believe that this leopardess was on the same hill where a shepherd was grazing his sheep.   

At this point of time, I’d like to mention that my drive to the top of the hill tops all the off-roading experiences I’ve had so far. Imagine driving in the jeep on a path. Hold on, there was no path! I was mostly driving on rocks at a trajectory of 70% degrees. It was an experience that I will remember for a long time to come.

Once we reached the top and our tracker informed us that he had seen the leopardess with her cubs last evening. The same leopardess was also believed to have killed a sheep. It was hard to believe that this leopardess was on the same hill where a shepherd was grazing his sheep.

 

 So once again we waited and waited, light was fading and I was losing hope. My tracker was continuously scanning the surroundings and suddenly he spotted a cub sitting on a rock. Light was really low and it took me sometime to figure out where the cub was.  Look at the previous image, the cub was sitting just outside the cave on a small rock.   It was not possible to take any images from where I was waiting hence decided to head down. Finally, found a place where I got a clear view and here she was with the cub!   

So once again we waited and waited, light was fading and I was losing hope. My tracker was continuously scanning the surroundings and suddenly he spotted a cub sitting on a rock. Light was really low and it took me sometime to figure out where the cub was. Look at the previous image, the cub was sitting just outside the cave on a small rock.

It was not possible to take any images from where I was waiting hence decided to head down. Finally, found a place where I got a clear view and here she was with the cub!

 

 f only they had ventured out 15 minutes earlier, I would have been able to capture them in the perfect light. She was very attentive; had we made the slightest noise she would have definitely gone into hiding. So we stood our ground and as quietly as possible attempted to make some images.

f only they had ventured out 15 minutes earlier, I would have been able to capture them in the perfect light. She was very attentive; had we made the slightest noise she would have definitely gone into hiding. So we stood our ground and as quietly as possible attempted to make some images.

 Light was fading fast and I decided to let go of the camera and observe them instead. Sometimes it just makes more sense to enjoy the moment rather than capture it. I made up my mind that I will come back to this place and spend some more time. I still needed some answers on coexistence. I was told that locals have accepted their presence. Yes leopards hunt their live stocks and locals also know that leopards hardly have any other food options available in that terrain.  Acceptance has surely helped in coexistence.

Light was fading fast and I decided to let go of the camera and observe them instead. Sometimes it just makes more sense to enjoy the moment rather than capture it. I made up my mind that I will come back to this place and spend some more time. I still needed some answers on coexistence. I was told that locals have accepted their presence. Yes leopards hunt their live stocks and locals also know that leopards hardly have any other food options available in that terrain.

Acceptance has surely helped in coexistence.

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Wild Sri Lanka_Kaudulla National Park

Being photographing wildlife from sometime now, I developed liking for elephants and I go to different places to observe and photograph them. This time I landed up in a place called Kaudulla. It is around 200 kms from Colombo and situated in north central province of Srilanka. In the dry months, elephants move to this park in search of water and grass, historically kaudulla was one of a irrigation tanks built by king Mahasen.

Park is open from 6 am to 6 pm. Wanted to leave early from Colombo but I got late and could reach near the park only by 3.30 pm and I was welcomed with heavy rains. It was clear to me that today is not the day to take any images and I should try to understand the park to make sure I get some images next day.

Female elephant in the heavy rain

Next Day, I decided to leave my hotel early and I was at the park gate by 1.30 pm. Rain God was giving signals to start my work early before he starts his. Entrance was filled with Jeeps and visitors and I started thinking “Am I in a right place to take images?”

Somehow managed to go insde the park and I saw first herd of elephants, was happy to see them than I realised they were moving fast towards the forested area. I requested my driver to slightly drive faster and I managed to get one image.

Elephant herd

Clouds were forming and It started raining. Saw this beautiful tusker in the rain, locals call him Banu.

Tusker in the rain.

I saw one elephant leaving the herd and moving towards waterbody, I waited for him to come out. Landscape was simply breathtaking.

Saw a very young calf, may be a week old, was moving slowly with the mother and others. They are protected and looked after by other females in the herd. Young ones are fun to watch. Saw one fellow who I think was tired, decide to simply fall and sleep.

 

As elephants are habituated with the vehicles, one can decide to take closeups or become creative.

Kaudulla is one nice place to visit, the only trouble is number of jeeps and visitors. I think it is high time they take decision on number of vehicles allowed in the park and training of the drivers. Overall it is worthwhile to visit Kaudulla National Park.

Rohit Varma
For the Lesser Knowns

this is how Kabini looks in the rainy reason.

Most of the times, we visit the national parks with one objective “Sight a big cat.” Forest has got much more to offer than only cats and this is my intent of writing this article. Every forest has got so much of flora and fauna which we can see, enjoy and learn about.

So I decided to explore Kabini, famous for leopard sighting, lately (last few years) even for tigers. My intension was to showcase what we ignore most of the time when we are in the forest.

Unfortunately, forest in south india and other parts in India are having major problems with Parthenium and Lantana. Forest looks green but this green is most good for Herbivores animals.

It just rained when I went inside the forest. Humidity was high, saw this serpent eagle landing on the ground as lots of worms were coming out and he feasted on them.

Serpent Eagle

Once done with the feasting, it was time for preening
 

Grey langurs also known as Hanuman Langurs, mostly commonly found species, were having fun. They are surely an interesting subject to spend time and to photograph.

Went slightly ahead and found these jungle mynas having conversation, must be interesting one. Check out their blue eyes, very frankly, I never saw them so closely, never knew they have such beautiful eyes.
 

Jungle myna

and here he was, elephant with nice tusks. I always get execited when I find elephants and they are faviourites.

Elephant

It was time to head back but could not resist to take images of some deers as the setting was just perfect.

Stag deer
 

Female deer near a water body

Just when we were about to leave, our driver cum guide saw some movement in the Parthenium grass, one head slowly popped up and what we did not expect to see was staring at us.

Tiger engulfed in the Parthenium

As I mentioned earlier, my intent was to communicate, if you are visiting any forest enjoy the wilderness, see what forest shows you. You will be able to see lots and you will come back happy. So go for the whole not for one and cherish every minute spend in wilderness.

Elephants in the backwaters of Kabini

Access to Excel

Indian Chameleon

In the nature and wildlife photography, 4 things are important.

  1. Your knowledge about the subject.
  2. Technical knowledge about your equipment.
  3. Creative mind and last and very important
  4. Accessibility. I have assumed time and patience for granted. :)

Accessibility

Our National Parks are governed by state forest dept and other authorieites. They have rules which are required to be followed so you can spend only so many hours in a day in any national park, obviously one needs to be in the vehicle also. In a way, one gets limited freedom to make some interesting images as access is limited. How about shooting outside National Parks? I have been shooting outside National Parks from sometime and it has been a great experience. Nobody is bothering me by saying time is up or I have been surrounded by vehicles and I struggle to even see the subject. Here are some of the images taken outside the national parks in India and Srilanka.

I wanted to take some images of Indian Chameleon and one day when I was walking near my friends home stay in Bandipur. Saw this guy happily crossing the road. I jumped into a ditch to get some different angle and managed to take some images.

Was observing a troup of nilgiri Langurs in the western ghats.

Nilgiri Langur

I was expecting them to take-off anytime as they are very shy. They see you and they are gone even before you think of lifting your camera. And same happened, he just took off…

I was in Srilanka, it was a dry season. While having breakfast, I was surprised to see a monitor lizard popping his head from a whole in a tree. He was observing something and I just could not see what he was eyeing at. Before I knew he was down and caught hold of a frog. I ran to pick up my camera so that I can document.

Monitor Lizard

Monitor Lizard

Monitor Lizard

Nandi Hills, outskirts of Bangalore, a good place to do some birding. Avoid going there on a weekend, we were looking for Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher. Initally it was difficult to get them as they were moving fast, for my surpirse camera shutter sound got their attention and she started following me.

 

Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher

Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher

As I said access is very important and shooting outside nantional parks gives you the access and freedom to compose and make some interesting images. Also you do not need tons of planning, traveling long distances and spending loads of money.

Rohit Varma