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Awareness, appreciation, activism—how this nature festival provokes us to rally around our environment

In our second photo essay from the Nature inFocus Festival 2023, we share more wildlife photographs and curator insights.

Awareness, appreciation, activism—how this nature festival provokes us to rally around our environment

Sunday July 30, 2023 , 4 min Read

Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 710 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festivaltelecom expomillets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.

The Nature inFocus Festival 2023 is wrapping up today at Jayamahal Palace, Bengaluru (see Part I of our coverage here). The three-day event includes exhibitions of the organisation’s annual awards in photography and filmmaking, as well as the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.

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“We are also promoting sustainable lifestyle and responsible tourism. It is not enough to expect only governments and corporations to do the job,” Nature inFocus Co-founder Rohit Varma tells YourStory.

For example, the festival does not give plastic bottles of water to attendees. “We want you to bring your own bottles and fill water here,” he adds. Exhibitors are not allowed to bring plastic bags either.

Check out YourStory’s compilation of proverbs and quotes on the occasion of World Environment Day, Earth Day, and World Oceans Day. See also our photo essays on the earlier editions of the Nature inFocus awards in 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017.

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The festival this year includes an exhibition featuring sustainable lifestyle products, wildlife travel agencies, photography gear, children’s education toolkits, and research publications.

“We have chosen sponsors who are aligned with our mission of sustainability. The Aditya Birla Group’s Linen Club is our title sponsor,” Rohit explains. The Presenting Sponsor is Prestige Group’ travel arm, Sublime Wilderness Odyssey.

“We have six photography and filmmaking experts on our jury this year,” he adds. The jury for the Photography Awards includes Neha Dara, Business Head, RoundGlass Sustain; Sanjay Kumar Shukla, IFS Officer; Sugandhi Gadadhar, wildlife filmmaker; Vivek Menon, wildlife conservationist; and wildlife photographers Saurabh Desai and Sudhir Shivaram.

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There are special conference sessions titled 50 years of Project Tiger, The Role of Philanthropy in Conservation, and Sustainable Lifestyles. Masterclasses cover international pitching for filmmakers and camera gear.

The speaker lineup includes Bittu Sahgal, Founder, Sanctuary Nature Foundation; Vishalakshi Padmanabhan, Founder, Buffalo Back Collective; Jonathan Clay, Director, See Through Stories; Aly Rashid, Director, Jehan Numa Wilderness; Mihir Godbole, Founder, The Grasslands Trust; Nyrika Holkar, Director of Godrej & Boyce; and Venky Muthiah, Chairman, Parry Enterprises.

Nature inFocus also has a film production unit to bring together the different threads of natural history, biodiversity and wildlife conservation. “Our founding team has over 15 years of on-field film production experience,” Rohit proudly says.

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“More companies need to bring sustainability into their core focus, not just as an occasional add-on activity in corporate social responsibility,” he argues.

“We all have to get on board. There is no other planet we need to move to,” Rohit says.

He calls for more science-based approaches and research on conservation and the impact of climate change. There are plans to take the mission of the festival to other cities in India.

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“As one of the largest communities of wildlife photographers, filmmakers, conservationists, and nature travel enthusiasts, we believe that awareness is the first step towards meaningful change,” he affirms.

Nature inFocus has been rallying communities for its events and competitions right from its inception in 2015.

“We are certain that with our collective efforts, we can ensure a safe place for every lifeform on this planet. After all, we are all in this together,” he adds.

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The mission is captured in the name of the organisation itself, Nature inFocus. “We aim to do what our name suggests: put nature in focus,” he explains.

“We have only one Earth. Let us protect this precious planet. It is our individual and collective responsibility to do so,” Rohit signs off.

Now what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and do your bit for nature and our precious habitat?

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(All photographs were taken by Madanmohan Rao on location at the festival.)

See also the YourStory pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups,’ accessible as apps for Apple and Android devices.


Edited by Kanishk Singh