The Women’s Web ‘Love Your Leisure’ series will consist of interviews with a few female bloggers with fascinating hobbies, who’ve enthusiastically developed and fine-tuned them – and what’s more, write about them for the benefit of the rest of us! We hope you enjoy reading more about these bloggers and their passions. Presented in a Q&A format, this one is with Radha Rangarajan, Wildlife Enthusiast, who blogs about her passion at My Pensieve.
Intro: Tell us a few lines about yourself
I’m Radha Rangarajan, a true-blue Bangalorean. I work in the Finance team at Dell. Reading, writing, travelling and music interest me. Photography is an obsession. I dream of visiting all the rainforests in the world and someday, I would like to photograph the Birds of Paradise in Papua & New Guinea.
Q1. How did your interest in wildlife come about and what made you follow it up so dedicatedly?
I don’t recall how my interest in wildlife came about, but I’ve loved nature and animals for as long as my memory can go back. As a child, I would trouble my father to take me to the zoo every Sunday! When I took up photography, I naturally veered towards wildlife and have been hooked to it ever since.
Q2. As a wildlife enthusiast, what do you find most satisfying about this hobby of yours?
When you are out in the field, satisfaction comes in different ways – the aroma of your favourite flower in bloom, listening to that one lovely call of a bird, spotting a mongoose that quickly darts across the road or a perfect moment you record in your camera. One will always remember how they saw a specific bird on a particular tree; every sighting is memorable.
Q3. How friendly or accessible are the conditions in India for wildlife enthusiasts?
Some popular wildlife destinations in India are easily accessible, especially Tiger Reserves. However, for many other forests, very less information is available. Some wildlife sanctuaries have very well laid-out systems and authorities like Jungle Lodges & Resorts in Karnataka allow people to book safaris and stays without any hassles. The staff of these resorts are also very well versed with the forests and wildlife. However, for many other tiger reserves this is not the case. Even in a very popular tourist destination like Corbett National Park, reserving a safari vehicle involves a lot of difficulty. One needs to approach an agent who usually keeps many slots blocked through proxy bookings.
Q4. What are your favourite spots for observing wildlife?
Given my love for rainforests, Valparai in the Anamalais is my most favourite place to spot and observe wildlife. I also like visiting Nagarahole, Bhadra Tiger Reserve, BR Hills in Karnataka and Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand.
Q5. Which are some favourite wildlife blog posts of yours so far? Also what other wildlife blogs/ sites do you enjoy or find useful?
Personally, I enjoyed writing about my first Valparai trip and my Agumbe trip a lot. The best part of writing about a wildlife trip or a special sighting is that you get to re-live those moments all over again.
Other related blogs I like to read are;
Kalyan Varma – wildlife and environmental photographer I admire a lot
Ecologic – a blog on conserving wildlife and nature by NCF (Nature Conservation Foundation)
Karthik’s Journal – as good as a text book on wildlife and nature in general, this blog is by S.Karthikeyan
Q6. What has been your most memorable wildlife expedition till date? Have you had any close calls/heart-in-your-mouth moments as yet?
My first trip to Valparai will always be my most memorable expedition. It introduced me to the delicate ecosystem and rich biodiversity of rainforests and opened up a lot of channels for further learning. In a single day in the Anamalais, the number of endangered and threatened species one encounters can bring about a perspective change and a lot of awareness. A heart-in-the-mouth, unforgettable moment for me was when I photographed a King Cobra up close, within striking distance, at Agumbe.
Q7. Many people have an interest in wildlife but to go beyond watching them on TV seems rather intimidating! What would you say to such people?
Everybody has their own preferences – some would just want to observe wildlife while some people would like to photograph every kind of wildlife they see and some others would simply prefer to only watch it on television. For many, the journey to a see a wild animal in its habitat actually starts from TV; channels like Nat Geo and Discovery open up their lives to wildlife. People who continue to pursue this interest in wildlife will eventually find themselves frequenting jungles.
Q8. What advice would you give to beginners? How do you think one should prepare oneself before going on a wildlife expedition?
Just go with an open mind and without any expectations. Enjoy the calmness and serenity of the jungle, blend in. Even if you don’t find your target species, do not be disappointed. Remember, this is wildlife and you never know what the forest has in store for you. There’s life in every blade of grass, every tree, the more you observe, the more you will learn. If you are interested in bird watching or spotting animals, carry a good field guide