Former minister on India’s wildlife trail — with a camera (With Images)

December 8th, 2011 - 11:29 am ICT by IANS  

Mani Shankar Aiyar New Delhi, Dec 8 (IANS) The images stay on long after viewing them - a tigress and four of her cubs drinking from a shallow trough in high summer deep inside the burning scrublands of the Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh and a golden eagle perched atop a craggy branch of a tree stump at the Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan.

The amazing diversity of India’s depleting wild populace comes alive through the camera of politician, social worker and industrialist Kamal Morarka.

“When you are in the middle of a jungle and all is silent around you and you look up from the camera straight into the blazing eyes of a tiger staring at you from across 15 feet on a dirt track - you know what these words by Henri Cartier Bresson means: ‘You do not take a picture, the picture takes you’,” said Morarka, a former union minister and ex-president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

His exhibition of wildlife photographs, “On the Nature’s Trail: A Photographic Journey by Kamal Morarka”, featuring over 50 images from India and Africa, opened at the Lalit Kala Akademi in the capital Tuesday.

The exhibition was inaugurated by Dr. Karan Singh, MP, in the presence of a galaxy of politicians like Mani Shankar Aiyar, Sharad Yadav, Ajay Maken, Jaswant Singh and Jaya Jaitley and Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi.

It was earlier shown in Mumbai and will close here Dec 12.

Morarka said he began live photography in 1995 at the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, now known as Keoladeo National Park, after his term in parliament ended in 1994.

“Since then, I have been visiting wildlife parks two to three times a year with my camera,” Morarka told IANS.

“Wildlife photography requires patience - it does not require artistic finesse. A good camera with a sophisticated lens and an eye for detail do the job for a photographer. I use a Nikon camera but frequently change the lens,” he added.

He makes a statement with his tiger photo essay - “save the cats”. The pictures - blown into wall-to-wall formats - have been shot in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

“We in India are blessed with such rich fauna. But the awareness among people to conserve the same is very minimal. I am trying to spread the message of wildlife conservation - especially tigers. The proceeds from the exhibition will be donated to the ‘Save the Tiger’ initiative,” he said.

Morarka shoots his cats “up, close and personal sometimes from a distance of 50 ft on elephant back”.

“It is difficult to photograph tigers if you don’t get close to them. I sometimes reduce the lens value for better quality,” he said.

Summer is the best time to photograph tigers as they come out to drink water, said the 65-year-old photographer.

Morarka is chairman of the Sariska Tiger Foundation, which is working to relocate tigers to Sariska under a relocation project.

He is also helping farmers switch to organic cultivation in Rajasthan’s Sekhawati region.

In July 2010, he headed to the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya and the Kruger National Park in South Africa with his camera, bringing home a collection of photographs of stunning “cheetahs at prey, grazing giraffes, jackals, rhinoceros, jackals, zebras and African elephants”.

“Sighting of wildlife is easier in Africa than in India,” he said.

Morarka also enjoys capturing birds on his camera on Indian turf.

“It is difficult to photograph birds because they fly away. For example, photographing a Siberian crane is timetaking,” he said.

“The toughest experience was photographing an eagle near Mysore from a boat. The eagle is a shy bird and flies away with a hint of noise. I had to wait in the boat for the bird to turn its neck so that the sunlight caught its eyes,” he added.

The photographer wants to go to the Kaziranga National Park in Assam to click rhinos.

“You cannot sight wildlife in Sundarbans,” he said.

(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at

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