Nature enthusiast A. Sivakumar speaks to K. Jeshi on how hitting the outdoors brings alive the conservationist in every traveller

He spends weekends in the company of birds, butterflies and Nature. He goes trekking in Wayanad, Mudumalai and the Niligiris and believes enjoying Nature is the first step in conservation. “You take ownership and want to give something back,” says A. Sivakumar.

He enrolled as a member of Salim Ali Naturalist Forum (SANF) for bird watching. During an outing, he realised that trekkers often sourced camping and trekking equipment from other States. That’s when he got the idea of starting Adventure Shoppe. It stocks equipment for camping and trekking, riding, racing and wildlife management, and has compact travel kits and accessories. “We want to encourage people to travel more. The idea is to kindle the conservationist in every traveller,” says Sivakumar.

Initially, orders were hard to come by. Sivakumar persisted, personally meeting forest officials, wildlife and Nature enthusiasts, birders and conservationists. “The word spread. My first order was for 10 sleeping bags for the Forest Department,” he recalls.

Slowly, he was approached for providing equipment (carabiner, hooks, climbing rope and body harness) for windmill installations and cleaning of high-rises. Sivakumar explored wildlife management equipment and introduced a range of camera traps. “The Forest Department uses it to record wildlife. Recently, it also helped them arrest a poacher,” he points out.

What's new?

All the products are imported from the U.S. and South East Asian countries. “Selecting the right product, supplier and brand makes up 70 per cent of our work. We go in for CE-certified products as we are dealing with lives. Hundreds of products hit the market every day and we keep a watch on what’s new.” There is stiff online competition, but credibility keeps us going, he says. This wildlife enthusiast has also supplied 5,000 snake bite first-aid kits to 240 battalions of the CRPF. “In 2010, we got just five kits because we weren’t sure about the product. The former Director-General K. Vijayakumar saw the product on our website. They found the product useful. In fact, the kit saved the life of one of my friends Rajkumar, who worked as honorary wildlife warden of Nagarhole.”

Sivakumar’s clientele is spread across the country and includes conservationists, racers, riders, climbers, trekkers and corporate houses, besides Government departments. Recently, he supplied multi-function watches for Indian Air Force pilots. They track heart beat, altitude, latitude, longitude and work as a barometer.

At the shop

He walks me down his shop in Fun Republic. There are temperature-specific sleeping bags (that can keep you comfortable even at minus five degrees!), infra red and no-flash camera traps, scuba-diving accessories, archery equipment, fishing accessories, racing suit for riders, backpacks…. There is also a mini refrigerator, Swiss knife, riding luggage for bikers, universal dynamo charger for cell phones, gloves, boots and helmets. The latest addition is wildlife T-shirts.

He says there is great potential for his products in Coimbatore. “People from here often travel to the Himalayas and Rishikesh. They buy water-proof shoes, hiking poles and winter clothing. They also buy compact travel accessories such as foldable chairs, cots and a multi-fuel cooking stove that works on petrol, diesel or kerosene.”

In the pipeline are plans to launch a no-flash camera traps for home security and a life straw with an inbuilt filter. It ensures that the water trekkers drink from any open body is instantly filtered.

Sivakumar says weekend travel has taken off in a big way. So has dirt biking. “Customers ask for helmets that cost Rs. 40,000 or more. They are aware and prioritise on safety.”

He also helps travellers makes the transition to conservation. “I tell them that photographing Nature alone won’t do. They should stay connected with Nature, observe and conserve. It helps them stay stress free.” Sivakumar follows what he preaches. He takes off on his Royal Enfield 500 cc bike during the weekends. “I am a biker and a conservationist,” he smiles.

Trekking essentials

Good footwear, sleeping bag, compass or GPS, first-aid kit, camping tents, backpacks, water bottles, rain coats, protective gear, multi-fuel stove. “One has to go prepared inside a forest. You need to wear protective shoes to avoid ankle injury. Carry sleeping bags to protect yourself from lizards, snakes, and insects. A pepper spray works as self-defence, and also distracts elephants and bears.”

Camps for children

Sivakumar and a couple of friends have started Iternis that arranges two-day, two-night treks and nature camps for children and adults. Call: 9843222000.

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