- Text: Paridhi Jain; Photographs: Tanmay Haldar and CEC Delhi
The Great Nature Project is a worldwide celebration of the planet and its wonders, one of the largest initiatives National Geographic has ever created. And Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary is a treasure trove for the wildlife photography enthusiasts and offers abundant opportunities of macro, landscape as well as bird photography. This Photo Walk was conducted on September 14, 2014 at CEC Delhi BNHS, Asola Bhatti WLS. The initiative was organized in collaboration with the DCP expeditions and Tanmay Haldar (skipper, DCP expeditions) played a major role in it.
People of all ages were invited to appreciate nature by taking pictures of plants and animals in there surroundings, and then sharing those pictures with the whole wide world. Together it was a humble attempt to create a global snapshot of the Earth’s incredible biodiversity — and try for a Guinness World Records® title for the Largest Online Photo Album of Animals.
Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary (ABWLS) is the largest and only sanctuary situated on the last leg of Aravalli range- the Delhi Ridge. The famous Delhi Ridge traverses through South Delhi and terminates into Central Delhi where Raisina hill is its last extension. Aravalli Range literally means ‘line of peaks’. It is one of the most popular and oldest mountain ranges stretching about 300 miles passing through Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi.
I have been working in the Wildlife Sanctuary since almost a year and it has been an unforgettable experience for me. As soon as you step into the jungle of Asola, you can hear the birds chirping from different directions, insects like cicadas making noise and herds of blue bull families passing through bushes. Occasionally you will also find jackals if you are lucky. The star attraction is the endangered antelope blackbuck which holds a good population here. You also find amazing biodiversity of medicinal plants. The forest is also home to butterflies of various kinds like blue pansy, common grass yellow, white orange tip, Danaid Eggfly. You can find them basking on stones in winters or near puddles of water taking salt from the soil. Everyone gets opportunity to unravel the magic of jungle on the seven of our trails distributed throughout the sanctuary.
In the words of Tanmay Haldar, “A lovely early morning drive later we were at the gates of the CEC BNHS Asola Bhatti on the SurajKund Road. The volunteers for the event duly assembled at the appointed hour, in anticipation of the grand day that lay ahead. The event started with Paridhi Jain from the CEC BNHS office, giving us a very informative briefing on the myriad diversity of the flora and fauna that had been documented and could be expected on the given day, and the trail that we had in mind. After briefly discussing with the volunteers the objectives of the project and emphasizing the basics for the beginners, we embarked on the trail. One thing that immediately stood out that I had undertaken, in stark contrast to many trails that I have in the course of my stay in Delhi, is the cleanliness within the forest. Throughout the trail we did not come across a single cigarette butt, or bits of polythene, or any other such refuse that the local populace has a tendency to dump, even in the most Eco-sensitive of zones. It must be because of the strict entry rules whereby visitors to the sanctuary are not permitted to enter the wilderness without an escort. In my mind I congratulated the CEC Delhi BNHS on setting a benchmark in this regard. The trail had been most carefully chalked out by the BNHS Team for us after I had expressed my special interest towards exploration of the typical Aravalli forests.”
I was eagerly waiting for the event to start as it was a fantastic lovely morning. As soon as the clock struck eight, participants arrived and got registered. I could detect their enthusiasm from their smiling faces. The session started with the interaction with the participants in the auditorium and they were asked, what brought them to the wonderful Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary. As expected they were bunch of excited wildlife enthusiasts who were just waiting for this special day to come.
We started with our trail and explored the marvelous biodiversity of Asola.We could see butterflies swarming in all directions. We spotted the Blue Pansy, Common Mormon, Plain Tiger, Common Grass Yellow and White Orange Tip feeding on the nectar of flowers in the butterfly garden. It was the right opportunity for the photographers to get ready with their cameras.
Going forward, there were numerous such occasions for the participants. There were insects like blister beetle, red cotton bug and dragonflies buzzing in the bushes. The sight of photographers in different spots on different subjects amazed me but also gave me a pleasant smile. We crossed the rocks and boulders and found a marvelous spot for landscape shooting. Throught out the Sanctuary we got numerous such spots like rivers, ponds, grasslands, mountains and at all the spots you could see the people with their cameras and bodies both turned in different angles.
Paridhi Jain is an Education Officer representing Conservation Education Centre Delhi, Bombay Natural History (BNHS). She conducts research and educational events at the centre and loves exploring the forests.
Tanmay Hadar is empanelled as a Skipper with DCP Expeditions, and on Sundays he can be found in forested areas in the NCR freely sharing knowledge with all who may be interested.