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Wildlife on the web

K. JESHI
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A number of online forums initiate one into the wonders of wildlife, photography and more

WEALTH OF INFORMATIONWildlife photographers a click awayPhoto: K. Ananthan
WEALTH OF INFORMATIONWildlife photographers a click awayPhoto: K. Ananthan

When wildlife photographer R. Prakash posted a photograph of a rare sighting of a male leopard and a melanistic (black) female leopard on India Nature Watch (INW), a popular online forum for wildlife photographers, there were 175 comments on it.

“Now, it is the photograph of a snow leopard which got 180 comments,” says Prakash. His photographs of tigers and leopards spotted at Ranthambore Sanctuary, Saras cranes at Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, the great pied hornbill (the fast vanishing Indian hornbill) in the Anamalais and the Lion Tailed Macaques (LTMs) are all up on www.indianaturewatch.com. It is an educative forum where photographers log on and post their comments.

There is a treasure trove of information available online on wildlife, Nature and photography. INW is a non-commercial website that is a free online resource for nature lovers of all skill levels, from beginners to professionals. The focus is on India.

On registering, users are given an email and a password. This allows them to log on and post pictures. Wildlife enthusiasts, photographers, office goers and students log on and share their experiences regularly. Users can showcase their images in the ‘Image Gallery Section'. There is also a ‘Discussion Forum'.

“If you post a query on, say, birds, other wildlife or even cameras, you get 100 replies instantly, which is motivating,” says Prakash, a regular at INW. A lot of professionals log on and post their comments. For wildlife enthusiasts, it becomes an addiction as it opens up the world of Nature. They also make friends, organise live events where they meet and enhance their awareness on wildlife.

The forum has various categories such as mammals, birds, reptiles, butterflies, landscape and others. One can upload photographs there and the result is a collection of extraordinary images of wildlife from across India. Amateurs upload their photographs too.

“There is plenty of assistance to visit places throughout India, especially wildlife national parks and sanctuaries,” says Jayaprakash Ramanujam who has been into wildlife photography for over six years.

Websites such as www.toehold.com organise wildlife tours regularly. Most important, the website also rents out expensive cameras and lenses for those who can't afford to buy them, he adds. His recent visits to Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh and Todaba Wildlife Sanctuary in Maharashtra proved to be memorable, as he had gathered all the information, including places to stay from INW.

V. Ram Narayanan, an avid wildlife photographer for over two decades, says online forums enhance knowledge. “You have access to top class photographs. This helps you improve your own photographic skills immensely,” he says. The latest news and information about wildlife and technical expertise on photography are the added perks. His son Gaurav Ram Narayanan, a class VIII student, posts his Nature photographs and participates in online discussions.

INW documents Indian wildlife, fauna and flora, which makes it useful for beginners. “Photography is all about sharing. Immediate feedback is satisfying and the suggestions motivate you to work better. The information is reliable as renowned photographers participate in the forum,” Prakash explains. He will soon post the photographs of nine tigers he clicked at Bandhavgarh National Park.

Information on camera equipment and lenses are available too at the click of the mouse. A website on creative photography run by members of INW talks about how to approach a photograph creatively. And, there is more.

K. JESHI



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