The Importance of Wildlife and its Conservation – A talk with Debarpan Datta

The natural wonders of our world which maintain our ecological balance and helps the world to thrive is on a crisis. Humanity and its elements have destroyed nature and wildlife in such a heinous way that a 16-Year-old girl, who should be enjoying her teens is instead in a global fight against world leaders to save the future generation. Alarming data and reports are pouring in every day and the numbers look seriously bad for the planet Earth.

Since today we are doing the last part of this series, we are going to share two articles for your general information. These are the latest reports of 2020.

The First article is a Warning telling us about the species that we might lose very soon: World Wildlife Day 2020 – 5 things to know about the illegal wildlife trade

The Second article is a Hopeful sign tell us about the Wins of the tireless efforts of conservation in wildlife: Wins for wildlife so far in 2020

On this note, we did a series of talking more about Wildlife Conservation by interviewing Wildlife Photographers/conservationists who are making a difference with their work.

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We are ending the series with Debarpan Datta. His story is a bit different from the others that we have published so far. Unlike most others, who are doing a regular job and at the same time pursuing Wildlife photography and conservation its really commendable. But Debarpan has taken up Wildlife and nature conservation as his primary career. He is associated with West Bengal based NGO which focuses on Wildlife rescue and Conservation – Nature Mates Nature Club. They are also focused on creating alternative livelihood for people in forest fringes and also create Student awareness programs to educate them on the importance of wildlife and how to avoid human-animal conflict. It is really appreciable to see the youth of our country take up a hard-hitting career, where the work is definitely not easy but requires a passion to follow. We are really proud of his endeavours. Read on to know more about him.

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P.S. All the pictures and videos are owned by ©Debarpan Datta and reproduction in any form, without prior permission, is prohibited

Debarpan Datta

Q: Would you kindly introduce yourself to our reader? On which project are you working currently?

Hello, I am Debarpan Datta, an employee of  Nature Mates-Nature Club, a wildlife conservation and research organisation. I was very enthusiastic about Nature, especially birds from my early days and finally got the platform to convert my passion into profession under NMNC.

I am working on various conservation and publication oriented projects of my organisation. Wildlife rescue and rehabilitation is one of my favourite projects. Study and documentation of Waders in Sundarbans, Alternative Livelihood projects in forest fringe villages and Student awareness programmes in Schools of Sundarbans, Tree Transplantation, Print and publication of various books and awareness materials are the projects I regularly work in. We are currently working on a book on Sundarbans which will hopefully be published soon.

Alternative Livelihood Project Training at Sundarban Tiger Reserve
Student awareness programme at schools in Sundarban Tiger Reserve

Q: What attracts you to your genre? Whose work has influenced you most in your early days? What inspired you to choose wildlife photography in particular?

The peace of mind I feel when embraced in the arms of Nature, I hardly feel that anywhere else. Probably that tranquillity is my biggest attraction and I am grateful to Mother Nature for that.

Bar Headed Goose

Now this list is gonna be a bit long. It was my dad who tuned me first to love both nature and photography. From early days till date Mr. Dhritiman Mukherjee & Mr. Masood Hussain have influenced me the most with their photographs. I first got inspired by my aunt, Ms. Lipika Ray, a WBFS officer, regarding wildlife conservation. Later I came in touch with Mr. Arjan Basu Roy, Mr. Rishin Basu Roy, Ms. Sarika Baidya & Ms. Devsena Roychaudhury; the four pillars of my dreams in this career. Especially Ms. Devsena Roychaudhury; whatever I’m trying to do today I always find her as my mentor and my protective shield.

To study and know about the characteristics of birds and other wild-lives were my priority. Photographing them actually helped me to notice them more intensely, in detail and the photographs always made me happy. Thus, wildlife photography gradually became “my thing”.

Lion Cubs

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement?

In the last 16-17 months, I have rescued and tried to take care of a good many species of birds and mammals. Every time I see one such endangered life regaining health and being rehabilitated in its natural habitat I consider them to be my greatest achievements.

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….In the field of Photography seeing my clicks as Cover Photograph of the book “Birds of Indian Sundarbans”; Nat-Geo Traveller’s “winner of the day” and Smart Photography magazine’s “Picture of the Month”, winning FIP gold Medal are my dearest moments.

Common Mergaser

Q: Is it important to have any professional training to be a photographer? Did you have any at the time you set of your journey? 

To get trained is always better but it is not a must. To say the truth, being honest and passionate can be enough to become a quality photographer.

No, I learnt by seeing my dad and one of my brothers. I used to observe them minutely but those were never something very meticulous.

Common Pochard

Q: Which is your preferred lens and why?

Being a wildlife photography enthusiast I always prefer a good quality telephoto lens. I personally use a Nikon 200-500mm lens and I am really satisfied with it. It’s very much value for money with quite impressive performance. Apart from that Nikon 400mm f-2.8 is one of my dream lenses.

Himalayan Marmot

Q: What are the main challenges that you face as a wildlife photographer? How do you plan a shoot?

Unpredictability. That’s the one word which shapes the entire scenario of wildlife photography. Nothing is under my control apart from the camera; the subject, the surroundings, the weather, the light and winning over these situations is the biggest challenge in this field.

To be honest, I never plan, things always have taken place in front of me and I have tried to be ready to keep a proper visual account of the moment. That has always been my way.

Ferruginous Pochard

Q: What are your views on ethical methods for photography, when it comes to photographing animals in their natural habitats?

I guess I won’t say anything new; maintaining a safe distance, not disturbing the species, never playing calls, avoiding uses of flash-guns etc. One thing I feel in this present era of Posting photographs on social media; keep the location of your clicks secret for the safety and peace of the species. This will help it to stay away from unwanted attention and will help in its peaceful survival.

Lion Cub

Q. Kindly enlighten our readers on the importance and your views on the conservation of Wildlife. Why is it important, how does it impact climate change?

Do I really need to speak a single word about the importance of wildlife conservation? I think we all know it very well. Just one problem – wrong approach. Actually, we have to love ourselves first. We should understand that the conservation of Nature and wildlife is most important for our existence. Once we do that, things will automatically change. We are trying to increase the population of wildlife, but what about their home that is rapidly decreasing? How will an increasing population sustain in a decreasing stretch of habitat? We need to save the forest first, increase forest cover. Once we do it, global warming, carbon footprints, greenhouse gases, climate change all these will be reduced and the wild-lives will find their home in better condition. Thus the entire aspect of wildlife conservation is a human beneficiary idea which we often fail to understand act foolishly.

Red-Tailed Bamboo Pit Viper

Q. Can you say about the current trends/status of conservation of any particular animal that you love photographing or have photographed extensively?

Photographing migratory ducks and waders has always been on my priority list. Studying the Waders in Sundarbans actually helps me a lot to notice things about them. The decay and degradation of mudflats and sandbanks are actually becoming a big problem for these birds. The usual timings of their arrival and departure are also differing in recent years. Indian Sundarbans has some migratory birds like Spoonbill Sandpiper (Critically Endangered), Ferruginous Pochard (Near Threatened), Common Pochard (Vulnerable) etc. which have specific conservation plans for them due to their major vulnerability all over the globe, but there are many other residents and migratory species of waders and all of them contribute to this unique mangrove eco-system a lot. They really need care and attention from our end.

Red Crested Pochard

Q: What is your favorite picture that you have clicked and why? Could you explain the background story behind it?

I can’t choose a single one, honestly all of them are very close to my heart. The picture of a pair of Himalayan Marmot, the Lion cubs, a picture of a Spotted Owlet Pair, one pair of Common Pochards, a click of a Peregrine Falcon, the two tiger brothers stalking……. these are to name a few. They all have their own special memories induced in their visual appeal and are my favourites.

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I can happily explain each one of them with amazement and goosebumps all over my body but trust me I will simply forget to stop. Still, I must mention; the peregrine is special for one big reason; it is my most favourite bird species. & The tiger brothers; moments after I clicked them, they chased a Sambar in front of my eyes and I still can feel the amazement of that moment. Such exciting stories are associated with others as well.

Tiger Brothers

Q: How important is editing in wildlife photography? Which post processing software you use for your pictures?

Every photograph tells a story; visually or intellectually. Just like better vocabulary makes a story exceptional, proper editing emphasises the story depicted by a photograph. But just like everything needs a balance, editing needs as well. There is a thin line between beautification and exaggeration, that every line has to be judiciously maintained while editing a picture.

I use very basic editing software like  Photoshop, Adobe Camera Raw etc.

Ruddy Shelduck Pair

Q: What advice would you give to young photographers who are just starting out and considering pursuing a career in wildlife photography

I myself am a learner. I don’t have that ability and desire to advise anyone. Every day I get amazed to see brilliant works by so many young people. I really respect them a lot. Just one thing I will definitely say: be strong, honest and clear within your own self for whatever you want to do, be it photography, sports or studies; at least no one will be able to steal your smile away from you.

Spotted Owlet

Q: Lastly, any message for our blog? Thank you for your time!

I really like the way you guys are promoting young hearts and inspiring young souls. I have some serious respect to the admins for their so cordial behaviour with the people on the other side. If possible I wish to meet you guys someday and congratulate you for your brilliant efforts. Just with one desire I hereby end up; waiting to see activities on conservation of wildlife besides photography; that can be really very inspiring for people like us who feel the greatest pleasure to find people interested in saving Nature and Wildlife.

Saltwater Crocodile

Thank you for bearing with me for so long, I apologise for the bit lengthy answers; sorry I love to speak my heart out loud. All my gratitude to you people especially the two admins for your kind co-operation.

Northern Shoveler

Thank you, Debarpan, for such valuable guidelines and knowledgeable information on various aspects of wildlife photography and conservation of nature. We look forward to your projects and wish you all the best for the future.

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