Photo story: Meethil Momaya showcases Indian wildlife

Mumbai-based wildlife photographer Meethil Momaya's first exhibition, Wild Thoughts In Wild Places, showcases the diversity of Indian wildlife, captured over the span of a decade

Mumbai-based wildlife photographer and nature writer Meethil Momaya got interested in photography as a child, while whiling away time on his grandfather's mango orchard in Valsad, Gujarat. He fuelled his passion further by studying mass media and cinematography, and followed this by gaining hands-on experience in still photography.

Weaver Ants with a dragonfly: In a classic case of teamwork, these weaver ants manage to cart the oddly-shaped dragonfly to their nest high up in a mango tree.

Today, at 34, he boasts of over a decade's experience and is currently showcasing 58 images at his first exhibition, titled Wild Thoughts In Wild Places.

Meethil Momaya
Meethil Momaya

The photos have been shot at wilderness spots across the country. For his shoots, Momaya would often spend days and weeks in the forest, understanding how life in the forest moves. Through his visual and written work, he attempts to decipher the intricately connected lives of animals, birds, and trees in Indian forests.

His efforts have been lauded and he has won two awards — Glanzlichter 2007 and Glanzlichter 2011 (a German wildlife photography contest). Check out a selection of some of his favourite images from the collection.

Common Langur  >> Common Langur  (Semnopithecus entellus): The Langur is a constant reminder of how monkey-like we are. It portrays a range of emotions and body language very similar to us.

Hog Deer
>> Hog Deer (Axis porcinus): The Hog Deer was once found in the entire northern and northeastern parts of India, including the Himalayan foothills. But due to habitat degradation, their population is now scattered in a few pockets, mostly within protected areas.

Cuon alpinus
>> Wild Dog (Cuon alpinus): The wild dog, or the dhole, lives in clans and is a formidable hunter. Although they do not bark or howl, they are extremely vocal with a range of sounds including a peculiar whistling sound.

Rock Python>> Rock Python (Python molurus) eating an Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis): A rock python got lucky when an Indian Roller descended on the leaf litter to grab an insect. The python hiding in the leaf litter was quick to grab the bird.

Asian Elephant>> Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus): An elephant pushes against a tree trunk, ultimately felling the tree. The feeding habits of the elephant result in a lot of trees being felled, the fallen branches are then food for the deer who otherwise cannot reach them.


A moment in time
“This image reminds me of how you can fail and yet look absolutely gorgeous while doing so. One evening, this tigress swam through water to stalk some deer grazing on the other side. A deer sensed the tigress and shouted a single alarm call. The tigress immediately aborted the hunt and swam back to the other side. When she emerged out of the water, she shook herself dry (as seen in the photograph) and went on to find a grassy pad to flop down on,” recalls Momaya, about that moment.

Till: April 8, 11 am to 7 pm
At: Jehangir Art Gallery, Kala Ghoda.
Call: 22843989

From: April 9 to 18
At: Trilogy, Raghuvanshi Mills, Lower Parel.
Call: 8080590590

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