Most of us love the spectacular images of nature we increasingly see everywhere. Nature photography has become much more popular than before, thanks to highly sophisticated digital cameras and several outlets to share these on. Not all of these images have a positive footprint. Photographers sometimes drive across wilderness, disturbing and ruining habitat. They remind me of large trawlers that go out fishing, killing dolphins, turtles and smaller fish they have no use for but which get stuck in their net anyway. A recent study in Bangalore’s Hesaraghatta’s grasslands, by a trio of ornithologists-Shesadri, Krishna and Kumar, shows how terrible photography’s impact can be. According to them, nearly 43 kilometers of permanent tracks have been formed from vehicles. At least 20 vehicles, cars and SUVs, criss-cross the grasslands daily. They place severe stress on the birds, whom they chase for a good shot and whose daily lives and breeding are disrupted. It can even cause local extinction-the critically endangered Lesser Florican, seen here after a hundred years, is one of the vulnerable species present.
What to do? I would say, the Forest Department has to be much stricter, letting only a few cars in, for a fixed time. Patrolling is essential, as are fixed routes. And those who publish the photographs have to find ways to evaluate the impact of each shot. Or simply, pay less, show less. I would much rather never see something at all than see a photograph derived after so much misery and damage.