Framing nature

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Burning bright Praveen Kumar has visited sanctuaries to capture wildlife and nature at its best
Burning bright Praveen Kumar has visited sanctuaries to capture wildlife and nature at its best

Government official H. V. Praveen Kumar is exhibiting 80 pictures of the tiger in an upcoming exhibition

H.V. Praveen Kumar isn’t content just being an inspector in the Customs and Central Excise Department. That is probably why, for last 13 years, he has been visiting all the sanctuaries of India capturing wildlife and nature at its best.

The government official has even formed “Prakruti Creations” a concern, which works towards the cause of wildlife. Under the aegis of “Prakruti Creations” Kumar is showcasing 80 photographs of the tiger taken over a decade in the upcoming exhibition titled Vanishing Stripes.

Kumar was always an animal lover. He took up photography in 1995 to enable others appreciate nature. It was in 1999 that he shot his first tiger at Tadoba Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra. Through this effort, he wants to spread awareness.

“People keep hearing save tiger, save mankind but many don’t even know the connection between the two. Through this show, I want to enable the general public to understand the problem. Every picture will have detailed description about the predator, its behaviour patterns and much more,” says Kumar.

Sign on

A signature campaign to be signed in by every visitor to the exhibition, film shows and inter-school will be part of the effort.

Kumar hasn’t had any formal training in photography. He has learnt it by trial and error, taking feedback from the veterans and discussions. Kumar had his first show “Wild Wonders” in 2005. He was one of the top ten exhibitors of the world in nature print section in 1999 and 2003 as per the star rating of Photographic Society of America.

“The tiger is the only animal who can control all the herbivores below him in the food chain and is at the apex of the chain. The dwindling numbers would lead to excessive population of spotted deers and sambars who would destroy the vegetation.

“It’s the trees and plants that refurbishes the soil, holds water and prevent floods. There would be frequent floods which will then lead to soil erosion and lose of fertile soil. The end of jungles would also mean the end of the biggest suppliers of oxygen.”

Elusive presence

And it’s not easy to photograph the animal because of its elusive nature. Kumar has made more than 100 trips to Bandipur national park and to date, he hasn’t spotted a single tiger there.

“A tiger’s life is an enigma. They are very illusive. Best time to spot a tiger is early morning and late evening. The beautiful pattern on the body is such a good camouflage that even if a tiger is 20 feet away, you wouldn’t notice.”

Close encounters

When quizzed about any real close encounter he has had with the beautiful cat, Kumar says, “In Bandhavgarh, about 40 feet away from our jeep, we watched a mother play with her cubs for one hour. She didn’t bother about us. Also, a tiger never chases the prey. He stalks his prey and then leaps about 30 feet. And he will manage success only about twice out of 20 attempts. A tigress keeps the male cub with her for 24 months and female for about 30 months and while abandoning, she will give a part of her territory to the daughter.”

And how does he manage to pursue his passion along with a job. “On an average, I take about 30 days leave in a year. I try to make most of it. I take my friends and family along. It is important to go close to nature,” says Kumar.

“Vanishing Stripes” will be held from July 26 to August 3 at Venkatappa art gallery. Film shows will begin on July 27 and interschool contest will take place at Jawahar Bal Bhavan, Cubbon Park on August 1 and August 2.

This column features those who choose to veer off the beaten trackSHAILAJA TRIPATHI TANEJA




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