Shooting wildlife is a thrilling but risky job, says Benny Ajantha of Pathanamthitta, who bagged the first prize in the wildlife photography contest conducted by the Kerala Forest and Wildlife Department this year.
This time, the “sharpshooter” captured a lone female wild elephant charging at him in the Muthanga forests of Wayanad to win the contest held in connection with the Wildlife Week celebrations.
Benny told The Hindu in Pathanamthitta that the elephant was in a violent mood when he, accompanied by a forest guard, came face to face with it.
Though shaken for a moment, he aimed his camera, fitted with a 100-400 mm lens, at the animal. Five action frames went off in a burst, before the two took to their heels.
It was one of those frames that has now brought the first prize to Vilavinal house of Benny near Catholicate College in Pathanamthitta.
He had won the second prize in the contest last year. A perfect shot of a sunbird in the Konni forests, about to drink nectar from a bunch of flowers in the middle of a “threat” from a humming hornet, won him the second prize.
This photographer, who runs a photo studio in Pathanamthitta town, has kept as his masterpieces rare stills of a ferocious leopard that had strayed into a human habitation at Angamoozhy attacking a man and a fierce fight between two tigers in the Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary.
Photography awards instituted by the Kerala State Biodiversity Board and the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment and a photography contest held as part of the 25th Science Congress were the other major achievements of this 43-year-old lensman.
Being in the field of wildlife photography for the past eight years, Benny has a treasure of wildlife albums with rare stills of elephants, including one he calls a pygmy elephant (Kallana), different types of eagles and other birds, monkeys and reptiles.