Nature inFocus Photography Awards 2020, wildlife conservation insights from the winners

Nature inFocus, founded by wildlife photographers Rohit Varma and Kalyan Varma. The award show was held at a live virtual event this year due to the pandemic.
Nature inFocus Photography Awards 2020, wildlife conservation insights from the winners

New Delhi: Nature inFocus is founded by Rohit Varma and Kalyan Varma both are wildlife photographers. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 awards were celebrated at a live virtual event on YouTube. As many as 14,000 images were submitted from more than 1,600 competing photographers.

Photographers who document unique natural history moments and critical conservation issue are honoured each year at the annual Nature inFocus Photography Awards.

While speaking to the founder of Juror insights, Divya Mudappa, she had some very important specifics to share about photography and its connection with nature.

"There is nature and wildlife all around us if we can look and observe. However, surely protected areas tend to have more of them, especially larger or specialised animals," explained Divya Mudappa, Senior Scientist at the Nature Conservation Foundation. She is one of the jurors for Nature inFocus 2020.

Divya's research in the Annamalai Hills involves monitoring rainforest dynamics in long-term plots and tree phenology.

"Our lives will be way poorer if we have to live without the forests and other wild habitats and the wildlife around us," the scientists cautioned.

Divya calls for more mindful ways of living, reduced resource use, and green urban spaces with diverse species of plants. A number of factors are contributing to declines in birdlife, including habitat loss, pollution and indiscriminate use of pesticides and herbicides.

She further adds, "Photography and photo stories on social media based on natural history knowledge and science may assist in building awareness about the importance of insect life."

One of the award-winning photographers at Nature inFocus 2020 is Soumabrata Moulick, for his fish-eye view of a rhinoceros at Manas National Park in Assam.

"One day, very early in the morning, we got the news that a rhino had strayed out of the park into the adjoining village. We found the rhino resting in a waterhole right opposite my friend's resort," Soumabrata recalls the backstory.

As the rhino moved towards a guard post, he went ahead and chose a spot to photograph it.

"It was probably a once in a lifetime opportunity," he said.

The photographer's other memorable experiences are photographing a red-necked keelback, a desert fox feeding in winter, people walking over a bridge while a tiger sleeps underneath it, and a hedgehog with the Milky Way aligned vertically above.

 During the COVID-19 lockdown period, he worked on trap camera setups and project plans in the Northeast.

He further added, "I hope this becomes the beginning of an era where we grow along with the planet and not on it."

According to Soumabrata, everyone can contribute to the conservation cause in their own way. If you are an engineer, you can make your machines eco-friendly and if you are a doctor, convince your patients to adopt a more nature-friendly lifestyle.

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Sentinel Assam