Shifting focus

Move aside big cats. City-based wildlife shutterbugs are chasing reptiles in pursuit of a new form of photography 

Published: 17th November 2021 06:35 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th November 2021 06:35 AM   |  A+A-

Malabar Pit Viper| Sachin Rai

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Gone are the days when big cats were the only obsession among wildlife photographers. Of late, shutterbugs are in pursuit of reptiles and amphibians that add value to their hobby and an artistic touch—with bright and vibrant colours — to their pictures. With the Covid-19 pandemic wreaking havoc to travel expeditions, photographers believe a lot of adventure and jungle trails were missed during the lockdown. With travel destinations now gradually opening up and the climatic conditions being favourable to reptiles and amphibians, wildlife photographers are looking at capturing snakes, frogs, lizards among other species.

Western Ghats, including Wayanad, Kodagu, Agumbe, and parts of Maharashtra, are the best spots for such clicks, find photographers. Sachin Rai, a wildlife photographer, points out that reptile photography requires time and patience because snakes and frogs venture out only after 6:30 pm. “I visited Wayanad and Munnar in Kerala and Amboli in Maharashtra during the monsoon season. I found at least 11 different species of snakes in Amboli. Also, most of the reptiles and amphibians are endangered. Considering that most of them also thrive in coffee plantations of the Western Ghats, the use of fertilisers actually harms them,” says Rai, who has shot a Malabar pit viper, vine snake, bush frogs during his photography expeditions to the Western Ghats.

Amoghavarsha JS, a renowned wildlife photographer and filmmaker, believes that reptile photography has gained traction due to the artistic value it adds to a picture. “Unlike pictures of big cats, snakes and frogs are very colourful, adding a creative value to the picture. Moreover, one should be very responsible while photographing reptiles. Photographers should have a trained eye and a local guide accompanying him/her to have a better understanding of the habitats the reptiles are living in,” says Amoghavarsha, who is also the co- director of documentary, Wild Karnataka.

Shreeram MV, who has been on multiple photography expeditions to Agumbe, Chikkamaglur, Seethanadi (near Udupi) says, “Reptile photography is an expansion of interest because it is the least ventured domain and the toughest of the lot. Unlike other terrains, capturing reptiles requires you to go out of the comfort zone and into an inhospitable terrain. During my visit to Seethanadi, my team and I visited the dense forest to spot a snake. However, after a long hunt, we couldn’t find any. But we found a pit viper around the dining area of our resort. These reptiles expand their terrains largely during monsoons.”



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