“Nature speaks in a special way. But often we are not patient enough to pay attention to it,” says Shefiq Basheer Ahammed, nature photographer turned Motor Vehicle Inspector.

The 42-year-old engineering graduate had even thought of quitting his job to pursue his twin passions of nature and photography. Then, he decided to take leave for three years to shoot wildlife.

Wielding his heavy Canon VII-D, Shefiq roamed almost all wildlife sanctuaries in India, the Masai Mara wildlife reserve in Kenya, and the Serengeti national park in Tanzania.

A few weeks ago, he captured a Travancore Flying Squirrel ( Petinomys fuscocapillus ) after a patient wait under a jack tree in the Thattekkad bird sanctuary in Ernakulam district. Ornithologist R. Sugathan kept him company during the 50-hour wait. (The squirrel, believed to have been extinct, was sighted after nearly 100 years in 1989.) A similar wait yielded a striking frame of a tiger drinking from a pool at Bandipur in Karnataka, and a fox about to lunge for a mid-air confrontation with a Maribo Stork at Masai Mara.

His favourite destination though is Thattekkad that houses around 360 species of birds. In his school days, Shefiq’s pets included canaries, blue-ringed parakeets, plum-headed parakeets, and squirrels.

Presently serving as Motor Vehicle Inspector at Aluva, Shefiq finds time for frequent outings to the forests, sometimes with his wife and son.