Ace photographer Gerard Carr goes through hair raising experiences with wildlife around Hyderabad

The popularity of wildlife photography as a hobby is growing steadily. Several avid photographers set out every year to try their luck at clicking the exotic birds and animals in their natural habitat. In Hyderabad one such wildlife photography enthusiast is Gerard Carr who has won many awards for his works captured in India and Africa (Kenya, Botswana and also other regions). He says that one of the best places for wildlife photography near Hyderabad is the Ameenpur Lake in Sangareddy district.

His devotion to his hobby takes him to different locations across the globe and at the end of it he comes up with rare and beautiful photos of animals and birds from different continents. Needless to say he has also had some hair-raising experiences in the jungeles.

“On one occasion, when I was in the Tadoba National Park, I unexpectedly came face to face with a really huge tiger. Luckily I was in a jeep. The tiger was less than 10 metre away from me and my driver. It was staring directly into our eyes. Those emerald coloured eyes were breathtakingly beautiful but also immensely terrifying. The driver of my vehicle just froze with fear. The tiger’s eyes seemed to be having a hyptonising effect on the driver. He was unable to move,” said Gerard.

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“Trying to break the spell, I whispered urgently into his ear ‘Come on man…wake up…reverse…reverse…go back…back’ . After a few seconds the driver came out of his trance and began reversing the vehicle. With his eyes looking steadily at us, the tiger followed us for almost a kilometre, walking in a very steady and deliberate manner. After we had been driving backwards for what seemed to be an eternity, the magnificent animal decided he had chased us off his territory and leapt back into the thick grass. Within one second there was no sign of him anymore. He had vanished. But that was a really scary experience,” said Gerard.

“On another occasion in Bandhavgarh, I witnessed how cleverly a tiger lay in wait for a group of Langur monkeys and then trapped the leader with one swift lunge,” he added.

“The tiger is an awesome animal. Once during a trip to Masai Mara in Kenya, a local man asked me: What do you think of our lions? Aren’t they magnificent? I told him to come to India and see our tigers. I will take you into our forests and you can see for yourself the tigers that we have. Then you will realise what the meaning of the word ‘magnificence’ is. Tigers are extremely beautiful animals with their superbly designed stripes and mesmerising eyes. Yet they also have strength and power beyond our imagination. What makes them unique is that they hunt alone. Lions hunt with their pack (called prides). One group of lions chase down a buffalo or a deer but a tiger hunts alone,” explained Gerard.

“Some of them acquire celebrity status. Such as the tiger named ‘Machli.’ She was a Bengal tigress who lived in the Ranthambore National Park. She played a key role in the regeneration of the tiger population in the park. From a tiger population of only 15 in 2004, the number rose to 50 in 2014. All were her offspring. She was accorded titles such as Queen Mother of Tigers and Queen of Ranthambore.”

“Machli was known for her hunting skill and strength. She was always ferocious when protecting her cubs. In 2003 she fought with and killed a 12-foot-long mugger crocodile. India reportedly earned about 10 million US dollars per year due to tourists attracted by her. She was photographed and filmed by the National Geographic and Animal Planet channels.”

“Today I am happy to see that the numbers of tigers in India are on the rise. They are our national animals. We must take care to protect their lives from the treacherous traps and guns of poachers.”

“Then I also admire the speed and beauty of Cheetahs. I have seen many cheetahs on my trips to Africa. The speeds they can suddenly attain from a stationary position cannot be matched by the most powerful cars that humans have manufactured. But cheetahs have to eat very quickly because hyenas are always tracking these animals to steal their kill. Cheetahs are scared of hyenas because hyenas have a bite force that is stronger than that of a lion. One bite can break a cheetah’s bones. So the cheetahs eat as quickly as they can and leave the scene before the hyenas reach the spot,” said Gerard.

“I want more youngsters to take up this hobby and acquire knowledge of wildlife. That is the only way we can spread the message of conservation. Often we humans do the wrong things due to our ignorance and we harm the environment as well as the fellow creatures that inhabit this earth. All life on this planet is interconnected. If we humans hope to have a bright future, we must also ensure that other creatures are not harmed,” signed off Gerard.

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