This Bengaluru doctor has captured lions, tigers and elephants on his camera
From encountering an elephant in Kabini to capturing the ‘playful lion cub’ at Kenya, this nephrologist tells CE about his love for wildlife and nature photography
It was October 2018 and a post-monsoon season with a pleasant climate prevailing over the dense Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan. Dr Vidyashankar P and his safari team were tracking a popular tigress of the park named Arrow Head.
Having monitored the tigress’ path, Vidyashankar was waiting to capture the wild cat in his safari jeep, with his Canon 1DX in hand. After a long wait, Arrow Head showed up and walked along the road for nearly two hours, giving Vidyashankar, a wildlife and nature photographer, one of the best photography experiences. Vidyashankar, lead consultant — nephrology at Aster CMI Hospital, has enjoyed being behind the lens for over a decade now.
His passion for photography kickstarted as a creative routine. However, in the last five years, he also bundled environment conservation onto his list of passions. “We have a doctors’ group of all those who share an interest in wildlife and nature photography. We usually make time during the weekends and find places like Kabini and Bandipur, and sometimes the outskirts of Bengaluru to capture birds and nature.
We also intended to promote the idea of conserving biodiversity through photography. I have captured Flamingos that were spotted in Hoskote in 2019, the Himalayan birds in Bengaluru and other migratory birds,” says Vidyashankar, who regularly posts information and pictures of rare and endangered mammals. There have been many times when the doctor’s passion has had to take a backseat during medical emergencies. “Many times during my visits to Kabini or Bandipur, I had to end the trip abruptly and rush back to Bengaluru for a medical emergency. There is no compromise when it boils down to the life of a patient,” says Vidyashankar, who has conducted nearly 150 kidney transplants over the span of four years.
Interestingly, in 2020, Vidyashankar was also conferred an award by Wildlife and Action Photography in the category of mammals. The photograph that won him the award was an image of a lion and a cub playing with each other. “I captioned this photo ‘Playful Cub’. This was shot in Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya in 2019. I also shot pictures of the Maasai tribal group, which is known for the ‘jumping dance’ that is a ritual during weddings. Kenya is indeed a photographer’s paradise,” says Vidyashankar, who also recalls his encounter with an elephant in Kabini in 2019. “Elephants are very intelligent animals and can remember their enemies well for grudges. A single tusker came charging at our safari jeep, causing panic, and I missed the chance to snap it. This was one of my most horrifying wildlife experiences,” adds Vidyashankar.
With the pandemic putting a halt to his travel plans, the doctor is now planning to make up for the lost time starting next month. “During the last two years or so, I conducted small photography workshops within my doctors’ group and trained my daughter in photography whenever I got time,” says Vidyashankar, adding, “I have planned a trip to Bandhavgarh in November, hoping to quench my thirst for wildlife photography.”