Nature, photography, passion–how this retired forestry officer spreads awareness about wildlife conservation
In this photo essay from Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, we showcase a diverse range of wildlife photographs and insights on nature conservation.
Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 730 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festival, telecom expo, millets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.
In the face of climate change and expanding human settlements, wildlife conservation assumes critical importance. Policymakers, forestry officials, wildlife activists, and nature photographers play a crucial role here.
An outstanding wildlife ambassador in this regard is MN Jayakumar, former Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Member Secretary, Zoo Authority of Karnataka. After four decades of forestry service, he remains an advocate of wildlife protection through activities such as wildlife photography exhibitions.
Jayakumar has spent extensive time in other parts of Asia and Africa as well, capturing highlights of wildlife in national parks and sanctuaries. As shown in this photo essay from his exhibition at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath in Bengaluru, his images capture the beauty of wildlife in their natural habitat, each of which is backed by memorable stories.
“I have been photographing nature and wildlife since 1993 – nearly three decades of documenting nature,” Jayakumar tells YourStory.
His work spans several thousand images across India, Southeast Asia, Africa, Central and South America, including the Galapagos islands, Australia and New Zealand. “Though I have not kept an exact count, I should be having close to 100 species of mammals and over 500 species of birds in my photography collection,” he adds.
“Photographs play a very positive role in creating awareness about nature and wildlife. There are many species of animals and birds which are not normally seen by every human being and the only way to see and get to know more about such species is to see them in a zoo or through a photograph,” Jayakumar affirms.
He supports the adage that a photograph is worth a thousand words. “A good photograph will have an immediate impact on the individual who sees it. It thereby helps in arousing interest and makes everyone more curious to know more about nature and wildlife,” he adds.
He feels India has done a fairly good job in conserving wildlife. “Historically and traditionally, India and the people in India have compassion towards wildlife,” he observes, pointing to the Wildlife Protection Act as an example.
“Initiatives like the Project Tiger and Project Elephant have further helped in focussed conservation programmes,” he says. Project Tiger, launched in 1973, has received global acclaim.
“Considering the enormous human and cattle population that India has, the efforts made so far have given good results,” Jayakumar explains. India has only 2% of the world's geographical area and 1% of the world's forests – yet, it boasts of 8% of global biodiversity.
“This justifies that whatever has been done so far in India has been pretty good. I only wish and pray that this effort is continued with the same vigour and sincerity in the future for the betterment of mankind,” Jayakumar says.
His other projects in the coming months include travels to Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and the US. He offers tips as well to aspiring photographers and wildlife enthusiasts.
“One should realise that we are intruders in their homes. Therefore, every photographer must be very discrete and considerate not to harm any animal or bird in the process and in our enthusiasm to get better images,” he cautions.
“Nature and wildlife photography is a very healthy hobby. It provides many opportunities for photographers to spend time with nature,” he says. Good knowledge about the animal or bird being photographed helps in taking better images.
“One should have lots and lots of patience and perseverance. A careful examination of what is happening in the natural world will teach lots of lessons in life and is a great stress buster,” Jayakumar signs off.
Now what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and harness your creative side for a better world?
(All exhibition photographs were taken by Madanmohan Rao on location at the gallery.)