Stop! Don’t Shoot Like that — A Guide to Ethical Wildlife Photography

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“I will not harm my subject!” 

Every nature photographer should willingly and happily follow this simple credo – even when no one else is watching.  

This is not hard to do, and for those with a genuine love for nature, or even just a conscience, it should be second nature. Unfortunately, thanks to the vast numbers of people who now own high-end photography equipment, and are constantly on the look out for excitement – and instant gratification on social media … Read More

Chital Chewing Plastic Bag, Bandipur

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While I love to shoot great action and beauty pictures of wildlife, I could not resist shooting this unfortunate scene in Bandipur recently. In my opinion, Bandipur is amongst the most abused national parks in India. It tolerates all sorts of issues caused by picnickers – starting from litter and yelling tourists, all the way to human-animal conflict. Tourists often enjoy a great picnic beside the National Highway that cuts through the park, after which they throw plastic and paper … Read More

Wildlife Tourism in India — New Challenges for Park Management

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Wildlife or Nature-based tourism is growing in many countries across the world including India. Krithi K. Karanth and Ruth DeFries examine trends and practices in wildlife tourism for ten parks across India. These are results of their study from the forthcoming paper in the journal, Conservation Letters.

Study Sites in India

Ten parks were selected across India – Ranthambore, Sariska, Pench, Kanha, Anshi-Dandeli, Bhadra, Nagarahole, Bandipur, Periyar and Mudumalai. These protected areas vary in tourist numbers, access to cities, and … Read More

Tiger Watching, Kaziranga

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This image was photographed in Kaziranga’s central range on March 31st, 2013.

The tiger was in the grass close to the watchtower, and tourists, including my groups, had congregated in the tower to wait and watch. As the tiger began walking back towards the road there was a crazy rush back down to the track – some groups got into their jeeps and drove up to the tiger, others ran along the track from the tower.

From the watchtower my … Read More

Wild dogs attacking Gaur calf, Bandipur

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We came across a pack of 18 dholes or Asiatic Wild Dog (Cuon alpinus) at Bandipur National Park. The pack was getting ready to attack an elephant herd with two calves. After a few attempts, the dholes moved on. A few minutes later, we heard the call of a gaur and moved forward. In an open area, we saw the dholes attacking a gaur calf while the mother tried to protect it.

As the cries of the calf and the … Read More

Photographers Disturbing Elephants, Corbett

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A bunch of photographers in safari vehicles were getting very close to a herd of elephants that were bathing in the Ramganga in Dhikala, Corbett Tiger Reserve. There were calves in the herd and the elephants were visibly agitated at the proximity of the jeeps.

The poor elephants huddled together in a row, waiting for the vehicles to move so they could cross. Probably wanting dramatic close-ups, the jeeps gave no room for the elephants to cross. The nervous elephants … Read More

The Tree Whisperer!

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The leopard is one of the key predators of Bandipur Tiger Reserve. It is elusive, graceful and an expert at climbing trees. It has fantastic camouflage, making it difficult even for a trained eye to spot this spotted cat. Over the years, I have seen many a leopard by following pugmarks or alarm calls, and every sighting has been a learning experience.

Including watching this male, which is rather bold and doesn’t seem to mind the safari vehicles. This individual … Read More

Stripe-necked Mongoose with Plastic Bottle, Bandipur

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On a rainy morning safari in Bandipur Tiger Reserve, we came across a Stripe-necked Mongoose very close to the safari track. Unmindful of our presence, it was moving around busily looking for a quick morsel. It came across this plastic water bottle lying in the grass. And it took to it as a kid takes to a new toy. The mongoose cuddled with the bottle and rolled around for a few minutes.

What explains this behaviour? Probably, as our naturalist … Read More

Tiger – Gaur Face-off, Bandhavgarh

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I was on a evening drive in the Magdhi zone of Bandhavgarh national park when I came across this big male tiger. He was walking along the fence that was erected to contain gaur when they were reintroduced to Bandhavgarh from Kanha. Suddenly the tiger froze. I couldn’t figure out why. He had certainly detected something,  but I couldn’t see it. After about ten minutes he walked back on the road and suddenly I saw him face to face with … Read More

Macaque Eating Cookies, Pench Tiger Reserve

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Rhesus Macaques (Macaca mulatta), although seen in urban and rural areas, deserve the same respect as any other wild animal. They are mostly herbivorous and are known to occasionally eat insects. Processed foods, like biscuits and chips, are not a part of their natural diet.

This image of a macaque, eating from a packet of Oreo cookies, exemplifies the pitfalls of unregulated wildlife tourism. In May 2013, we came across this macaque at Rukhad, Pench Tiger Reserve, eating … Read More

Tiger and a plastic bottle, Bandipur

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I saw this young tigress in Bandipur with a plastic bottle near its feet.

In spite of a nighttime traffic closure (see CI casestudy), the Ooty-Mysore highway (NH 67) through Bandipur Tiger Reserve causes serious disturbances to wildlife. Tourists and passersby are always stopping by the road to look at wild animals or disturbing them like feeding monkeys, getting close to already agitated elephants, honking and, not the least, speeding.

Hoever, what disturbed me most was this plastic … Read More

Unregulated Tourism at Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary, Nannaj

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There are a lot of tourism-related pressures on the critically endangered Great Indian Bustards in Nannaj, Solapur district, Maharashtra where the population is on the decline. The  population estimate for the Nannaj region is just 10-11 birds. Estimated population of the bustards in Maharashtra is around 35-40 birds. The Pune-based NGO GIB Foundation has proposed some specific recommendations for reducing tourism-related pressures for the bustards, especially during the monsoon — when bustards gather in their traditional breeding grounds — when … Read More

Stopping ‘Eco-Resorts’ In Their Tracks

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May 30, 2012: Based on a complaint filed by wildlife conservation NGOs, the Deputy Commissioner of Chikmagalur district in Karnataka cancelled the permission given to Satori Eco Adventure Resorts Pvt Ltd. for constructing resorts on Chandradrona hill in the Western Ghats. This cancellation is a significant milestone in the persistent battle by local conservation groups, WildCAT C and Bhadra Wildlife Conservation Trust, to halt commercial resorts in this tiger corridor connecting Bhadra Tiger reserve with adjoining forests.

Importance of the Read More

A Tiger in the Drawing Room — Can Luxury Tourism Benefit Wildlife?

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With decisions like the Supreme Court’s interim order banning tourism inside tiger sanctuaries becoming inevitable in the face of increasing political and executive resistance to expansion of protected nature reserves on public land, the issue of tiger tourism calls for a pragmatic approach that can resolve contradictions between the burgeoning tourism demand and the tiger’s shrinking habitats.

Wildlife biologists K Ullas Karanth & Krithi K Karanth propose a “Tiger Habitat Expansion Model”, based on a shared profit motive between private … Read More

Tigress on Gaur Kill, Nagarahole

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On April 13 , 2009, I was expecting to photograph the seasonal elephant congregations on the Kabini backwaters, Nagarahole Tiger Reserve, during the customary boat safari and was rewarded with this absolutely fascinating sight. The tigress approached the gaur kill and started to feed on it. The tourists in our boat kept absolute silence and the tigress continued its feed.… Read More

Wild Boar on Leopard’s Kill, Ranthambore

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Would you walk away from a tiger lying 10 feet in front of you? Well, I did and only for the lure of that elusive, enigmatic predator – the leopard. We were at Ranthambore, face to face with a handsome male tiger (T6 aka Romeo) when our guide Hemraj suggested that we head off to a nearby waterhole to wait at a leopard’s spotted deer kill. The reluctance was momentary, the chance of a leopard on a kill was too … Read More

Supreme Court order for the Tiger Tourism Case dated 29th August 2012

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ITEM NO.1 COURT NO.9 SECTION IVA

S U P R E M E  C O U R T  O F  I N D I A
RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS

Petition(s) for Special Leave to Appeal (Civil) No(s).21339/2011

(From the judgment and order dated 19/01/2011 in WP No. 12351/2010 of The HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH AT JABALPUR)

AJAY DUBEY Petitioner(s)

VERSUS

NATIONAL TIGER CONSERVATION AUTH. & ORS. Respondent(s)
(With application for permission to file additional documents, directions, exemption from filing Official … Read More

The Tourist Isn’t An Endangered Animal

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Tourism can increase its natural capital by converting farms to wildlife viewing land, with shared profits.

The media splash—exemplified by a hyper-ventilating Guardian report following the Supreme Court’s July 2012 interim order suspending tourism in some tiger reserves—has convinced the public that all wildlife tourism activity in India stands permanently abolished. Following the August 22 ruling on a review petition by the SC, in which it extended its ban on tourism in the ‘core areas’ of tiger reserves, people might … Read More

Q: Hi, I read that photography of GIB during the breeding season of April-Oct has been banned by Ministry of Environment and Forests. We would like to understand more about it. Since folks post GIB images on our INW website, your response will help us to take appropriate steps to update our posting guidelines if required.

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Answer from Shekar Dattatri, Conservation India:

As part of the Species Recovery Programme for the Great Indian Bustard, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has reportedly banned photography of the Great Indian Bustard during its breeding season from April to October. The reason cited is: “Unethical photography during breeding season often acts as a constant source of disturbance to the bustards and disturbs breeding patterns.”

Anyone found photographing GIBs during the ban period is liable to be prosecuted … Read More

Expand Reserves, Involve Locals in Tiger Tourism — On Record Dr. Ullas Karanth

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Originally an engineer, Ullas Karanth decided to become a professionally trained wildlife biologist. A Senior Conservation Scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Dr Karanth has adjunct teaching faculty status at the National Centre for Biological Studies, Bangalore (part of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research), and at the Department of Wildlife Biology, University of Minnesota. He has conducted pioneering long-term research on the ecology of tigers and other large mammals. Dr Karanth was elected member of the Indian Academy … Read More

Tourism Ban in Tiger Reserves – Some Points to Ponder

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Conservation India received this letter from Joanna Van Gruisen on July 29th 2012. Joanna has lived in the subcontinent for nearly 35 years. She has filmed, photographed, written and been an advocate for wildlife throughout this time. Two years ago she and conservation biologist, Dr Raghu Chundawat, began a small, earth-friendly lodge in Madhya Pradesh, designed as an alternative place to stay for tourists visiting Khajuraho. It also lies close to the Panna Tiger Reserve.

Regulation and bans are two … Read More

Stray Dog Chasing Blackbuck

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Here is an image of a stray dog chasing a herd of Blackbuck in the Jayamangali Blackbuck Conservation Reserve (formerly Maidenahalli). There were at-least 5 or 6 more dogs chasing the bucks, in a very organized fashion (not unlike dholes). This is a serious threat, as the fawns are easy targets for these dogs.

The reason these dogs enter the sanctuary is unchecked tourism. Often, tourists from nearby villages picnic inside the reserve and leave behind food, thus attracting dogs. … Read More