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Passion for feathered friends

Passion for feathered friends
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K Karthik Sai, popularly known as ‘‘Bird Man’’ among the locals in the temple city Tirupati, has been bestowed with awards by the government of Andhra...

K Karthik Sai, popularly known as ‘‘Bird Man’’ among the locals in the temple city Tirupati, has been bestowed with awards by the government of Andhra Pradesh such as ‘Best Wildlife Photographer’ and ‘Biodiversity Conserver Award’ on the occasion of International Day of for Biological Diversity in 2017 for capturing photographs of rare birds. He captured around 156 species of birds in his lens, which was not photographed earlier.

What started as a hobby has now made him one of the best wildlife photographers in the state. Karthik, a business administration graduate, became interested in the hobby of birdwatching after observing the movements of a Red Whiskered Bulbul when he was in final year of BBA in 2009. Later, he took wildlife photography as a passion and has been garnering accolades since then.

“All these efforts were not difficult because of my enthusiasm and passion towards biodiversity, environmental protection and wildlife conservation,” the 27-year-old Bird Man shared.

Birdwatching or birding is an observation of birds and is a recreational activity of many. “Birdwatching is not only an observation of the movements of the birds mechanically with binoculars or still/video cameras, but it’s a way of connecting with nature. One has to spend hours altogether in waiting to get a glimpse of the birds. Water bodies are the best place to enjoy birdwatching,” Karthik said.

With his zeal to be near nature and to know more about the feathered friends Karthik pursued and completed MSC in Ornithology from Coimbatore Ornithology Research Institute.

Karthik informed that he had an interest in wildlife and nature since his childhood. “I used to collect rare plants from nearby areas and plant them near my house, school and neighbourhood. I used to spend hours watching channels like National Geographical Channel, Animal Planet and Discovery.

Watching these channels encouraged me to recognise the value of biodiversity and protection of the environment. I also developed an enthusiasm for visiting places famous for rare birds, animals and plants. My photographs of rare birds and animals got recognised by the AP Forest Department as well as Biodiversity Board.”

“While doing the above activities I developed an interest in doing research related to ornithology. I was able to capture, on the camera, around 156 species of birds, which were not photographed earlier. These included some rare migratory birds which are not easily found. I was the first to take a photograph of leopard in Seshachalam forest and that click of mine (of the leopard) was well appreciated by the Forest Officials, Tirupati locals and print and electronic media,” the Bird Man said.

To continue his passion Karthik joined in Mosaic Adventure Commune (MAC), an NGO and undertook trekking activities, birdwatching, wildlife and nature photography. Karthik has visited Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary, Pulicat Bird Sanctuary, Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, SV National Park, Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Dandeli Tiger Reserve, SV Zoological Park, Guindy National Park. And also went around the Seshacahlam reserve forest and Lanka Malleswara and Araku, Paderu forest areas to click pictures.

His speciality is the identification of freshwater and brackish water birds and identification of terrestrial and hills birds.

This young wildlife photographer has received many meritorious awards from Government of Andhra Pradesh and various higher learning institution of Tirupati in last five years.

Presently he is a member of the Nature Foundation, Birdwatcher Society of Andhra Pradesh and is an Indian Bird Conservation Network Member in World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Karthik expressed that he wants to set up of birding clubs in every school and colleges. He believes that with this initiative he can create awareness among the students, which will, in turn, inculcate the passion conserving nature among youngsters. Karthik stated that unfortunately in India there is no preference given to wildlife education and awareness activities.

“My parents, MVI Sai Baba and Aruna, have always encouraged my endeavours. They supported me in all aspects of learning photography and continue as a wildlife photographer,” Karthik said.

By: Nethaji Kumara Mangalam

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