'WILD' Ways of Humans
It’s almost impossible to describe the feeling when you are meters away from a massive 5 ton beast standing well over 2 meters tall, gently feeding on wild bamboo shoots, oblivious of your presence (or so you think). Wildlife experiences are emotional and inspiring, bringing out the subtle majesty of the animal, while reminding you, that a moment is all it takes to transpire thrill into tragedy.
Conservationists, Nature Lovers, Trekkers, and Wildlife Photographers are terms today that seem to be the fad of the urban yuppie crowd. The pressures and claustrophobia of the concrete jungle forces them to unwind into vast open, green, fresh air spaces and the fast depleting jungle spaces are the easiest targets. Tagging to one of the terminologies above give them a false sense of identity and reason to venture out into the wilds, little realizing the sensitivity of the wilderness and its dwellers. But there is a dark side. Many things in the wilderness cut, bite, sting, maim and even kill.
Reality, sadly dawns on them through harsh natural incidents and brutal experiences, often at a very high cost, simply because of the scant respect to nature in its true form or sheer ignorance of the rules of the wilderness. Time and again they forget the fact that nature can be far more devastating and brutal than it can be beautiful or breathtaking. Headlines abound with stories of tourists being mauled, trampled, gored or chewed by wild animals, when they foolishly step out of their vehicles for a closer photo. Incidents of drinking, speeding, blaring loud music on jungle stretches resulting in annoyed mammals ending in a holiday gone horribly wrong are a plenty.
Consuming Liquor or Smoking on a holiday tour is as much part of the holiday as the fun, but the ignorance of indulging in these acts on a trek or a wildlife photo shoot in the wild is akin to disaster.
Swimming, even if you are an expert, is suicidal in the wilderness, for that unknown pool of water can hold the most horrible set of dangers in the forms of insects, reptiles or simply flash floods. If none else, it could be the watering hole for any of the dangerous mammals lurking around.
Possessing camaflogue jungle gear, a backpack, a high ankled trek shoe, Oakley shades and Bandana does not make a trekker. Affording a SUV a DSLR, a few Tele Zooms, a tripod and filters don’t make a wildlife photographer. Each of these hobbies is an enchanting, exciting and awesome experience, provided they are learnt, practiced in a scientific, systematic, planned and guided manner. A trek is often mistaken for a simple walk, with a pair of sneakers and shades. The simple walk into a vegetated jungle can be a horrible experience without proper camaflogue gear, compass, sense of the wind direction, without maintaining silence and without proper rations of water and food. Similarly, it may seem simple to point a camera at an animal or a bird in the wild and press the shutter and call it wild life photography. There is so much more science and art to this hobby to make a decent wildlife photo. One needs to research the subject, its habitat, its preferences, its annoyances, understand its behavior etc before silently stalking it against the wind and making a photograph without even the slightest of disturbance to the wild animal or bird.
It is as important to respect the risks of venturing into the wild and abide by the laws of the wilds as it is to enjoy the excitement and admire the landscape that the wilderness has on offer. And while we are in their territory it is only natural that we respect their privacy by not interfering in their activities. The wilderness and wildlife in our country, our prized assets, need a survival chance. It is important the young Indian tourist and holiday makers take time to not only understand the delicate balance of the ecosystem but also ensure to value the traits of the wild.