Grumpy Traveller: Is Amateur Photography Ruining Wildlife Safaris?

Grumpy Traveller: Is Amateur Photography Ruining Wildlife Safaris?

Hordes of ill-informed amateur wildlife photographers are making life difficult for tigers and tiger-lovers

Indranil Datta
August 31 , 2016
01 Min Read

If there’s one creature you’re guaranteed to spot at a tiger reserve today, it’s the battle-hardened, testosterone-fuelled, amateur wildlife shutterbug. You’re most likely to come across his ilk in a place like Ranthambore where you can safely rely on camera-toting zealots to render your tiger-search futile by aggressively hijacking every inch of the animal’s proximate surroundings, thus keeping the beast out of sight.

In such circumstances, I inevitably swallow the bitter pill of resignation, for no amount of cajolery and vitriol helps in bargaining for a slice of territory that’s already seized. The best way to redeem a lost cause like this is by tapping into the power of social media, where these same ‘photographers’ gather to glorify their shots and harp on about their roles as self-appointed guardians of the wild. Your news feed is bound to throw up inanely captioned images of the splendorous beast, and you’ll finally know how the creature blocked out of your view looked like.


In Panna National Park, I was thoroughly bemused to spot a similar group of enthusiasts, wielding weighty lenses, huddled up at the entrance to a dry watercourse. Their motives, puzzling at first, smacked of outright lunacy when it was all made clear by another guide—they were expecting the tiger to saunter out of the desiccated watercourse. Photographing a predator by obstructing its preferred route must have been a new addition to the wildlife manual!

It’s not only their antics but also their dress sense that I find baffling. While brightly coloured attire might constitute a forest faux pas, going overboard by cladding yourself in a camouflage kit from head to toe doesn’t leave you any less conspicuous, especially when you’re hurtling along a dust-track in a rickety, fuel-guzzling gypsy.

However, in the best interests of my sanity I’ve figured that the choice way of giving the maniacal hordes a slip is by making bogus claims about the tiger’s location and then watching them speed off on a wild goose chase.

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