The Importance of Wildlife and its Conservation – A Talk with Dr. R Rajasekar.
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.
What are the biggest emerging opportunities and threats the coming year holds for efforts to conserve biodiversity? A Team from Cambridge University led by conservation biologist William Sutherland found some 89 issues to 15 emerging or anticipated trends that have a strong potential to benefit or harm living things but are not yet on the radar for most conservationists.
The European Union has adopted a directive classifying wood as a renewable energy source and has plans to dramatically increase renewables’ share of the energy mix by 2030. Ironically, these moves are spurring actions that are seen as detrimental from both climate change and biodiversity perspectives: The import of wood into the EU from countries such as the US and Canada has increased in recent years and there are concerns for disruption of forest habitat in Europe as well. A lawsuit is challenging the classification but the problem could worsen if countries outside the EU follow suit.
Bees and other pollinators have been in big trouble lately as changing land use and perils such as pesticides and disease decimate their populations. Recent research in the US has shown that pollen of sunflowers and relatives, though not as nutritionally valuable as pollen from other plants, appears to reduce the severity of a gut infection that decreases reproductive success in bumblebees. If this research were to lead to mass plantings of sunflowers, it could adversely affect other wild bees that depend on more nutritious plants or on host-parasite interactions to thrive.
Source – The Guardian
On this note, we are trying to do a series of talking more about Wildlife Conservation by interviewing Wildlife Photographers who are making a difference with their work. Today we are talking with Dr. R Rajasekar from Tamil Nadu, India. He is a doctor by profession and an incredible wildlife photographer by passion. To know more about him and his views on wildlife read on
Follow him on Instagram – @rajaframes
Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/drrajasekar.drrajasekar.9
P.S. All the pictures and videos are owned by ©R. Rajasekar and reproduction in any form, without prior permission, is prohibited
Q. Would you kindly introduce yourself to our reader? On which project are you working currently?
Myself, Dr.R.Rajasekar, a doctor by profession, Indian bird and wildlife-based photographer. I am from Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu but residing in Chennai. I started my journey as a nature lover and now a full-time photographer whilst practicing medicine. Currently, I am not working on any official projects, but processing on videos related to Malabar parakeet in its habitat and also documentary film on leopard which will be launched very soon.
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?
While I was studying my 12th grade, actually it was an old man who struck me with his question. “When it is able for a mankind to understand language and feelings of other people who expresses, then why not it is unable for us (mankind) to understand emotions of nature’s creation like wild animals, birds when those are also equal living creatures of this planet?” This question initiated me to observe and understand nature, birds and animals. From then on, I started shooting photographs using my uncle’s (Mr. Murugesan) Kodak film roll camera without his knowledge. Later I bought my first Nikon camera. My early work was not that much appreciable as I was not skilful in photographing techniques but every time it gives me an immense pleasure while observing birds and animals in their natural habitats and I always enjoy the experience of capturing the best moments through my lens. That interest and passion urged me to learn technical skills in order to record video or shoot photographs in my lens to keep them as an asset with me. Seven years before I met Mr. Aggal Sivalingam, who inspired me a lot with his wide knowledge and fieldwork in observing, treating birds and animals from in and around Nilgiri Biosphere, Tamil Nadu. Later I learned from works of my friends Mr. Ganesh Jayaraman, Mr. Aravind Venkataraman and Mr. Krishnamurrthy from there I started my work in observing, understanding and learning wildlife photography and conservation seriously with utmost passion on it till now and this will continue.
Q. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
After so long years of observing and learning healthy signs of social behaviour, love for each other, empathy, compassion from wild animals and birds, I enriched myself to live as better human being. This change in me and in my life, which I first consider as greatest achievement. Coming to work based achievement, I would say it is the rare encounter of wild species. In short, after long awaiting search few months back luckily I spotted black leopard with its pair near Nilgiris. This dream come true moment I always cherish and consider as my achievement. And also as I have already said I am currently working on documentary video focusing on Male leopard (which has lost his one leg) in its habitat, which I also consider as best of mine.
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?
It is not much important to do a professional training to become a photographer. Instead amateur photographers can initially learn fundamental professional techniques in digital cameras to understand the concepts like aperture, exposure, focus, time-lapse, light and frame. But I completely believe that interest, passion, hard work, dedication, planning of work towards the goal will surely lead you as a great photographer. I never have done any professional training in photography, but day by day it was a self-learning process about technical usage of cameras with help of my friends. My first camera I used was Nikon D5200 18-55mm lens for capturing wildlife stories.
Q. Which is your preferred lens and why?
Nikor 70-200mm f2.8 L and Nikor 600mm f4 L are my favourite lenses. For mammal habitat shot, I use Nikor 70-200mm f2.8 L as it is easy to handle in fieldwork and safaris and of course it has a good low light performance. Nikor 600mm f4 L prime lens has good low light performance, sharp and good focal length for nice bird portraits. I prefer these two and I use the same.
Q. What are the main challenges that you face as a wildlife photographer? How do you plan a shoot?
Timing is the challenge and the most critical point in wildlife photography. It always requires perfect timing to capture the essence of the scene in the field. Especially for habitat shots, timing and concentration should never miss. In addition frame, the lighting of the picture also plays an important role in wildlife photography. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. When this combination sits in place, then absolutely complete masterpiece picture is born. I usually plan my local sightings like every weekend in Chennai outskirts and around places where I live in. And I used to go for wildlife and bird photography tour during birds migration & active period, at least twice or thrice per year outside state along with my friends.
Q. What are your views on ethical methods for photography, when it comes to photographing animals in their natural habitats?
When you’re photographing wild in habitat, there are some tips and ethics we should follow. Like when photographing leopard or tigers, never disturb animals and distract them. This may disrupt personal safety too. You should not manipulate their natural environment where they live for the purpose of our perfect shot. Maximum try to photograph wild in their habitat, leaving their spaces and habits undisturbed. Whenever you’re planning for your shoot in wild, get to know about the subject, its habitat, the terrain, geographical location and prepare yourself completely before encountering it. Of course, don’t harm them and give equal respect to all wildlife. If you follow ethics and when it is able to photograph without disturbing wild, it is possible to bring out their life in natural habitat through our lens.
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?
How many of us know the rainfall process? It happens when air passes over plants and trees in the forest and picks up the moisture in it and falls as rain. If we know the process of rainfall, we should be able to understand the importance of forests. Nowadays for purpose of commercial development and urbanization, we do deforestation and destroy marshlands, grassland and biodiversity of the forest. Also use of fertilizers affects the plants and trees and harms earth. These harmful plants and trees when eaten by birds, animals affect them and through food chain cycle it ultimately affects mankind too.
Further humans impact on the environment like Pollution, Plastic usage altogether leads to loss of seasonal rainfall, wildlife extinction and climatic imbalance and because of global warming nowadays sea level increases. If this continues, just imagine how the world would end up? Wildlife in this warming world needs to be conserved. It is true that animals and birds live on the earth without causing any harm to Mother Nature, but we humans still unable to understand the beauty of mother earth and destroying it. For conserving wildlife and biodiversity, stop deforestation and plant trees, ban plastics and go green. Destroying wild habitats will destroy the assets of the planet. Let’s share the earth with other birds and animals by conserving wild and nature.
“Stop deforestation”, “Plant trees” “Use less, reuse and recycle papers”.
Q. Can you say about the current trends/ status of conservation of any particular animal that you love photographing or have photographed extensively?
I always cherish and love the moment when I see leopard in my sight. They always amaze me with their beauty in its natural habitat. Speaking about leopard’s conservation status, we can say their populations have quite increased, but the conflicts between human and leopards still happen in some places because of its less biodiversity and habitat loss. People are saying that leopards with black skin are Black panthers. But I don’t think so; as far as I come through I will say it’s a kind of skin disease, which happens because of excessive secretion of melanin pigment. In my point of view, why this happens is because of deforestation and urban development. When a man goes into the forest, leopards prey like dogs, deer, a monkey comes out of forest zone and consumes food what we intake like rice, juice and even plastics. These poisonous intakes will harm themselves and also cause harmful impact on leopards. So as of now, leopard conservation is much more needed.
Q. What is your favourite picture that you have clicked and why? Could you explain the background story behind?
My picture “Ghost on the rock”.
Past 5 to 6 years I was searching for a leopard with its pair in its natural habitat. I always used to search for the beautiful beast in its habitat whenever I frequent Nilgiris along with Aggal sivalingam. Two months back, on one calm evening, after waiting for more than 2 hrs besides tea plantation of kotagiri, near Nilgiris, luckily we saw the beauty “Indian black leopard” walking towards a small rock where its female partner was already in place. Such a gracious leopard as always. Finally, the pair posed me for my dream shot. It’s all about being at the right place at the right time as I already said. Such beauty & elegance never stops me to amaze.
Q. How important is editing in wildlife photography? Which post processing software you use for your pictures?
I use Adobe Photoshop version 2019. In Wildlife photography lighting is very much important and it is challenging too. This is because when we go for outdoor shoots of mammals or birds, every second lighting will change on the subject; it may be soft light, hard or low light. On that case, from my point of view, we can make the possible effects of lights and exposure in post-processing using editing techniques.
Q. What advice would you give to young amateur photographers who are just starting out and considering pursuing a career in wildlife photography?
I firmly believe that one doesn’t require expensive photography equipments or tools to become a great photographer instead, good knowledge about birds and animal’s habitat, their behavior and patience are the prerequisites to anticipate the incredible moment and to capture it at right time. Spend more time on field with your subject, which will give you best image. Be passionate and patience always in wildlife photography.
Q. Lastly, any message for our blog?
Weekend trivia is an amazing and interesting blog where we can find works in all field of art like, photography, food, fashion, travel. My hearty wishes for the team of weekend trivia blog.
Thank you, Dr. Rajasekar for such valuable guidelines and knowledgable information of various aspects of wildlife photography and conservation of nature. We look forward to your projects and wish you all the best for the future.