Thursday, 29 January 2015

Let's be "Friends of Elephants".

I happened to see a poster on facebook about a photography competition conducted by "Friends of Elephants" in association with "Darter Photography" and "Namma Metro". Theme of the contest was "Elephants and their forests". I hope the agenda of this event was to bring awareness about Gentle Giants. Each participant could submit up to 5 images. 

According to the guidelines only 50 unique photographs of elephants will be selected, subsequently those photographs would be displayed to public @ Rangoli Art Gallery, MG Road, Bangalore on 25th Jan 2015. The jury would then pick 3 best photographs out of 50 to declare the winners. Last day to submit the photographs was 19th Jan 2015. Hence, my submission had to be good. I then started digging my collections. 

The year 2014 gave me an opportunity to travel to many places, that included several visits to Nagarahole National Park. Every time I passed through this range, I had a sure shot sighting of elephants. So, with plenty of elephant photographs now my task was to find an outstanding one and I succeeded with it. I sent a mail to the organizers with my 5 best images, hoping that least one would get shortlisted. 

The Prize catch.
The Hoarding.
I got a mail from organizers that above image of mine was shortlisted and would be displayed during the exhibition. Thrilled..!! this was my first ever experience, couldn't asked for more. :-)
I was insanely nervous and kept wondering if someone would contact me about the actual schedule. 

One Mr. Surendra Varma rang my inbox. His formal introduction via email impressed me. Basically a research scientist from IISC, Bangalore; he has been working on Elephant science for over 2 decades, a remarkable achievement. Along with like minded companions he formed an informal group called "Friends of Elephants" who focus on everything related to elephants. The newsletter attached with his email had plenty of information about ongoing works towards conservation of elephants. An event schedule was also attached. First half of the day was dedicated to photo exhibition, second half of the day was for presentations. With these information I eagerly waited for the event day. 

25th Jan 2015: Me and my wife walked along MG road anxiously. We could see people had gathered at the venue. All the shortlisted photographs were printed and displayed to public. I could see the response from public was good. People started appreciating each one's photo. 
I was not surprised to see Mr. Karthikeyan S, chief naturalist of Jungle Lodges and Resorts. He ought to be there as this was related to his field.

Apart from eye catching photographs, what caught my attention was a big flex wall where kids and others were pasting few postcards. It was called "Bio Diversity Wall". A creative idea to bring people close to nature.
So, after couple hours of interactions with wonderful people, it was time for me to head back home. I saw Mr.Varma was indulged in discussions with many others due to which I didnt get a chance for a formal introduction. Finally, he made sometime for me :-). 
I showed my photograph to him, he enjoyed it. With his experience he explained the nature of mother and calf through that photograph. Now that's called photography for research activities.

Evening events included an awesome documentary about Khaziranga tiger sanctuary directed by Sandesh Kadur. Further, a small presentation from Mr.Shankar was very informative. He brought us to the world of flora. 

Later, a wonderful insight to elephant's habitat and behavior was given by Mr. Ajay Desai. Having thorough knowledge about asiatic elephants his experience revealed many interesting stuffs. It was a treat and a perfect way to end the event. 

I thank each of them who were responsible to make this event a grand success. It's because of pure dedication these unique programs are successful . I wish Friends of Elephants all the best for their upcoming ventures. 

Few photos on Flickr: