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7 sins of wildlife photography

Talk to any wildlife photographer, amateur or professional, and you’ll soon learn that the key to good photos is PATIENCE. Be prepared to wait, and wait, and wait –whether you are capturing a herd of elephants in Bandipur, a tiger in Pench or a bird from the balcony at your house. Capturing animals in the wild as compared to a selfie with your friends, means that you can’t ask them to look this way, or move towards good light. You have to be ready at the right time to click the button. The more you understand your subject species and its behavior, more likely are you to capture something unique.

The thirst for wildlife photography seems to be growing unabated in India, thanks to the vast numbers of people who now own high-end photography equipment, and are constantly on the look-out for exciting work toshare on social media. But often, it comes at a cost ofthe subjects – animals. Here’s an indicative list of how you can tread responsibly while you take that perfect shot:

  • Golden Rule – "I will not harm my subject." Every wildlife photographer should live by this simple credo

  • Crowding: Too many people or jeeps crowding around an animal in a national park, or deliberately going too close to provoke a snarl. Such behavior disrupts the animal’s natural behavior and might make them more dangerous. Always, maintain a safe distance between the animal and the vehicle. When you see other vehicles approaching, take a few pictures and leave

  • Birdcalls to attract birds: Studies have shown that this can cause stress to birds and may disrupt their social systems and even lead to pair break-ups. Desist from this practice, especially when clickingrare and endangered birds

  • Clicking nocturnal animals: Nocturnal animals have extremely sensitive eyes, and can get temporarily blinded by powerful torches and flashes. Leave nocturnal animals alone or photograph them without disruptions like noise or flash lights

  • Nest or den photography: Photographing birds intheir nests or near it, or mammals intheir dens, causes them stress and disturbance and could lead to abandonment of the nest or the den. The new nest/den may not be as safe as the original one and can also attract poachers. Avoid nest or den photography and strictly stay away from newborn or young animals

  • Use of cell phones inside wildlife parks: While almost all parks, especially tiger reserves, have banned the use of wireless radios and cellphones, violation of this rule is quite common. These practices encourage crowding, and totally kill the pleasure of ‘chance’ encounters in the wild. Also, the sounds of phones ringing and people talking disturbs wildlife, as well as those who have come to enjoy nature

  • Off-roading in sensitive habitats: Avoid off-roading in sensitive habitats like grasslands, salt flats etc. This can be disastrous for ground-nesting birds and many other plants, insects and snakes. While on foot, stay on designated paths / trails

Following these guidelines would promote the well-being of wildlife and natural habitats. Let’s enjoy nature responsibly! The YES BANK Natural Capital Awards is a platform for nature enthusiasts, wildlife photographers and environmentalists to showcase their phenomenal work in conserving Mother Nature and its beautiful creations.

The 2017 edition of the awards consists of five categories – Eco-corporate, (Manufacturing/Services), Pixel Perfect and Trailblazer for photography, and two new categories – Eco-Tourism and Nature Leader. Winners will be awarded at a ceremony in New Delhi in September 2017.

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