BENGALURU: Lions, leopards, rhinoceros’, cheetahs, wild buffalos... You name a wild animal and there’s a chance Raj Gore has seen it up close and captured a picture of it. The Chief Operating Officer, South and West Region, Fortis Healthcare, took to wildlife photography in 2012 and since then, he has visited many major wildlife parks in the country, including Jim Corbett National Park, Bandhavgarh, Ranthambore, and Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
But Gore’s most memorable trip so far is the one he took for his 40th birthday in 2014 -- a three-week trip to Kenya and Tanzania. “It was a trip my wife and I were planning since our dating days and we finally took the trip with our two children. When you see Masai Mara, you can’t help but feel that this is how God intended Earth to be. Lush, open fields and animals roaming freely. India has thick forests but there, since it’s open, it’s easier to spot packs of animals,” he says.
Gore spent a lot of time amid nature since childhood, and this eventually gave way to his fascination with wildlife too. But he has his children to thank for the passion actually taking off. He invested in a point-and-shoot camera during the birth of his first child and later upgraded to a better camera when he became a father for the second time. “Eventually the camera started accompanying us for our holidays and I started capturing more wildlife attractions,” recalls Gore, who now uses a semi-professional Nikon D7200 camera.
Ask him the closest he has been to an animal and he recounts the time he was 15-20 metres away from a black bear at Yosemite National Park in the United States. Gore was leading the trek with his family when they suddenly stumbled upon the 300-pound bear. Before he could realise the safety of the situation, he had already clicked a picture of the sight in front of him. After moving away, Gore checked the picture he had taken, only to find that it was blurry.
“My hands were shaking while I clicked the picture. That’s when you realise that no matter how brave you think you are, humans can be weak too sometimes,” he says. But did he get the picture perfect shot eventually? “Yes. Not one, but two. I went back to click better pictures and spotted a mother and her cub,” he recalls.
Gore takes off on trips every three months or so, and has just got back from one in Madhya Pradesh. The next one is already on the cards and has been tentatively slated for August. He shares that his younger son, soon to turn 10 years old, is showing a similar interest.
“I’m really hoping he takes to photography too. It’s a great way for all of us to bond as a family. The actual photos are a small part of the experience. In the end, we all get a good story we share together,” he says.