Offbeat Photographer S.V. Hari Shankar on his special encounter with the Nilgiri marten

It was 1.30 on a Sunday afternoon. Businessman S.V. Hari Shankar was driving through scenic Kinnakorai in the Nilgiris when he saw a small animal standing by the road.

It was not something the amateur photographer had seen before. He saw it clamber up a tree. He followed with his camera. Soon, the animal’s pair joined it on the branch, and the two frisked about playfully (see pics) about for 10 minutes before melting into the forest.

Hari, who was standing on the road, managed to take about 150 photographs using his 60D Canon with a 100-400 lens. It was when he returned home and checked the identity of the animal that he realised what a special afternoon it had been.

He had managed to photograph, up close and personal, the elusive Nilgiri marten, an animal endemic to the Western Ghats. “I was delighted to know it was the Nilgiri marten,” says Hari, who got interested in photography just two years ago. His usual haunt is the Masinagudi-Bandipur route; he landed in Kinnakorai, a village on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border on work.

More than the photographs, what is etched in Hari’s mind is the brisk movement of the marten pair and the look on their faces as they peered through the leaves at him, standing below their tree.