Photographers can go trigger-happy along Mumbai's wild side

Oct 16, 2014, 08:19 IST | C Gangadharan Menon

Already a year old, a city-based weekend photo walks group has been introducing enthusiasts to the wonders of Mumbai's diverse flora and fauna

It is often said that a great photograph happens only when the photographer is in love with the model. This might hold true if one gets a glimpse of frames that many nature photography enthusiasts have been collecting for over a year now, courtesy a group that has been capturing lesser-seen and heard elements of Mumbai’s rich flora and fauna.

Grey Heron and Little Cormorant
Grey Heron and Little Cormorant spotted at the wetlands near Bhandup. Pic Courtesy/C Gangadharan Menon

This love affair began four years ago, on October 10, 2010. Three Mumbaikars: Caesar Sengupta, Kavita Sengupta and Amit Rane were towing with the idea to use photography as the primary tool to empower common people, to record the amazing wonders that exist in nature and to blend the art of image making with the science of documenting natural history.

Nature buffs in action
Nature buffs in action

Another green revolution
When I travelled to meet Dr Sengupta in Navi Mumbai, he shared examples of this simple philosophy behind the democratisation of natural history: “A thousand eyes can cover more area than two.” By getting lay people interested in nature, and empowering them with the necessary skills to first identify wildlife and then to document them, a new green revolution can take shape, he believed.

Longhorned Beetle
Longhorned Beetle

Mumbai is where the flagship event of DCP (Dr Ceasar’s Photography) Expeditions began exactly a year ago. Called Weekend Photo Walks, the intent was to expose the uninitiated to the amazing biodiversity of this metropolis. Wonder of wonders: 52 such spots were identified for the 52 weekends of the year. The initiative kicked off at the Godrej Mangroves in Vikhroli a year ago, and the last one of the year took place at the Maharashtra Nature Park in Dharavi. Over 700 people attended these Photo Walks in the past, across 52 weeks. The belief is that several participants have already become green warriors for life. While some from the group take up nature and wildlife photography as a weekend hobby others have taken to it as a lifetime career.

Painted Grasshoppe
Painted Grasshoppe

New year, new treasures
The 53rd walk, or the first of the next cycle, was in a landscape sandwiched between Airoli and Bhandup, and it had a mundane name: Bhandup Pumping Station. This is an amazing green spot, under the Airoli Flyover along the Eastern Express Highway, and 25 km (approximately) from Dadar.

Yellow Dragonfly
Yellow Dragonfly

This scenic green-and-blue tapestry includes mangroves and saltpans that are teeming with land birds, water birds, butterflies, moths and reptiles. As the group walked around this place, even as butterflies gave us company, Yogesh Chavan, a ‘veteran’, having attended 46 of the 52 walks, explained the impact of this movement on him.

Blackwinged Stilt
Blackwinged Stilt

He is now a team leader. It was then that one realised the enormity of what Dr Sengupta had achieved. Here was a movement that enthused hundreds of common people, and got them hooked on to the natural wonders that exist in our backyard: insects, moths, butterflies, reptiles, birds, flowers and trees; and not the just elusive leopards, tigers and species found in distant jungles.

Going strong
What began in Mumbai a year ago, has now spread to Nashik, Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Guwahati and a dozen other places. The participation of DCP Expeditions in the National Geographic Initiative called the Great Nature Project points to the coming of age of this green revolution.

On September 14, DCP launched Countrywide Photo Walks as part of this initiative, to get people to contribute to the Largest Online Photo Album of Animals shot all over the planet by common people. The Walk at Bhandup on October 12 was the second one in this Special Series.

To sign up, Call: 61818464


Keep the area clean; take back whatever litter you might accumulate.
>> Don’t venture out alone and away from the group.
>> Follow instructions and information shared by team leaders.
>> Carry binoculars, adequate protection from sunlight and drinking water.
>> Ensure you do not disturb the calm of this green space.

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