Girish Kulkarni, Chief Medical Informatics Officer, Cytecare Hospitals, describes how wildlife photography has impacted his life. By Pooja Paryani
For Girish Kulkarni, or GK as he is popularly know, healthcare isn’t just a vertical he works in, it’s a service he extends to society at large. Based out of Bangalore, Girish has over 23 years of experience, with over a decade of that spent in the healthcare space. He has also worked on quite a few government initiatives for improved healthcare system/process delivery. For his efforts, he was recognised as a Healthcare and Pharma Icon in CIO Power List 2016. This is apart from the many other accolades he has won over the years. He is also on the Board of HIMSS – APAC India Chapter and the key driver of CHIME India Chapter.
One of the government initiatives that GK is involved in his personal capacity involves working with the Forest Department to provide healthcare, legal aid and other welfare services to tribals. He was inspired to do this after seeing the pathetic condition in which the tribals live during his many forest sojourns. GK talks to us about his introduction to photography and how it has changed his life.
“It all started when my daughter had to learn photography as a part of her studies,” says GK. “I wanted to know more about what she would be learning and so I ended up joining the class. Today, almost all at home are into photography. Suddenly an individual activity has become a family activity. Most of our weekends are spent at forests taking pictures and enjoying the beauty of nature around us. I have to also mention the positive impact Satyajit Sarker of DTDC has had on us when it comes to this hobby!”
Forest time = Family time
“We are regular visitors to the forests around Bangalore, other parts of Karnataka and the region. My girls are growing up quickly and are busy with their studies and assignments throughout the week, while I am busy with my work; so we hardly get any time together. Therefore these photography trips are a great way for us to bond and spend time together. The time spent in the forests is quality time together. It gives us an opportunity to be together as a family, and also to make some really good memories. Just being surrounded by greenery is a soothing experience for your eyes, mind and soul. It is really de-stressing and re-freshening.”
Introduction to wildlife photography
“Wildlife photography just happened by chance. While on one of our weekend trips to Bandipur National Park, we sighted a tiger and started clicking pictures. Capturing that tiger in a frame was an amazing feeling, the adrenalin rush I got was awesome. As I took more pictures, I realised that if I had a better lens or another camera I would have got better pictures. This is how I went on adding cameras and accessories to my collection and pictures to accompany my memories. The ‘nasha’ of capturing the beauty of our flora and fauna has today become an obsession!”
A few memorable experiences
“Recently I saw a crocodile and fresh water otter engaged in a fight for survival. The otter was trying to steal the crocodile’s egg! The female crocodile attacked the otter to save her unborn kids. It was an amazing sight to see as well as capture. It is one of the rarest scenes to witness.
“We were in a safari at Kabini on my wife’s birthday. After having spent many hours in the forest we were driving back to the base dejected, but lo and behold, right next to the roadside, we saw a tigress having water from a puddle. I had waited for a long time for this shot!”
Learning from animals
“Animals are God’s most beautiful creation. Animals are as scared of us as we are of them. They are very shy and timid, unless you instigate. I have seen these beasts give birth to life, nurture and protect their offspring, and train them to live life independently. I have learnt tremendously from watching elephants, they are more humane than humans!”
On the to-do list
- The Great Migration – The African Safari: To see thousands of animals walking together for their survival is an out of the world experience. I hope to be there to see it next year.
- South America/The Amazon
- The Far East
- In India: Gir National Park and Ranthambore National Park
“There is a group of us working with the forest department and we undertake a few welfare activities with them. We’ve built toilets for the guards in the Anti-poaching Camps, held legal aid camps and health checks, provided free eyewear etc.
“Directly or indirectly we have been trying our bit to help these people save the environment and give them a better life. Earlier they weren’t sure of our intentions or us. But now they know us well. They are the friendliest people on the planet and will go out of their way to make you feel comfortable.”
“Being around the forest and experiencing nature first-hand has taught me that we have to preserve the ecosystem as much as we can. It is a necessity for the coming generations and us. Nature is something exquisite. Tribal people, despite not having been formally educated, understand the importance of forests better than us. They give their lives saving it for us. We need to learn from them how to maintain a balance in the ecosystem. Every one of us needs to play our part or we will perish sooner than expected.”