Photographer Takes Gorgeous Pics of Endangered Species in Ladakh

Karamjeet Singh, a 31-year-old wildlife photographer and naturalist from Ladakh, vividly remembers the time he took his first {photograph} within the wild again in April 2019. (Picture above of Karamjeet; Snow Leopard)

“The primary photograph that I took within the wild after I acquired my first digicam was of a Himalayan Brown Bear in a village referred to as Huliya close to Drass. The photograph was of a mom and her cub enjoying within the snow. Witnessing these majestic creatures of their pure habitat was a really charming expertise, and I used to be thrilled to grab the chance to doc that second,” remembers Karamjeet, chatting with The Higher India

Go to Karamjeet’s Instagram web page immediately, and also you’ll discover spell-binding pictures of the wildlife in Ladakh.  In his images, he has managed to seize quite a lot of endangered species starting from the elusive snow leopard (Panthera uncia) to the solitary Himalayan Brown Bear (Ursus arctos isabellinus), Pallas’s Cat (Otocolobus manul), Tibetan Wolf (Canis lupus chanco), the Urial (Ovis orientalis), the Eurasian eagle owl (Bubo bubo) and bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), amongst others. 

Going past wildlife, Karamjeet has additionally captured spectacular images of the area’s panorama, its tribes and evening skies. As Karamjeet notes, “Ladakh incorporates an incredible vary of wildlife, together with birds and mammals. It’s a disgrace not many individuals discover these unimaginable creatures. I’m simply awestruck by the wonder round us, and I attempt to seize it with my digicam.” 

Armed together with his Nikon D750 with a 200-500 mm lens which his father acquired him “after numerous persisting”, right here’s Karamjeet’s story. 

Ladakh is residence

Karamjeet’s household has established roots in Kargil for over 5 generations. Their residence immediately lies in Balti Bazaar, which is located within the coronary heart of Kargil city.  

“The preliminary transfer to Ladakh was made by my great-great-grandfather, who migrated from Mirpur (now in Pakistan) for commerce. He settled in Kargil after marrying a girl hailing from a Buddhist household in Shargole, Kargil. In our small and tight-knit Sikh neighborhood in Kargil, familial ties are sturdy. There are barely 50 of us however we’re engaged in numerous occupations,” he explains.

As Malvika Sharma notes in ‘Partition, id and belonging amongst Sikhs within the borderland district of Kargil, Ladakh’, for Asian Ethnicity, “Sikhs in Ladakh arrived as merchants in Jammu and Kashmir, and settled across the main buying and selling centres alongside the silk-route akin to Skardu, Kargil, Leh within the then undivided erstwhile princely state because it existed earlier than 1947-partition.”  

Not like different members of his household who established their enterprise ventures, his father pursued a profession as a authorities college trainer. Whereas considered one of his uncles can be a college trainer, the others are proprietors of tea-selling companies. 

Karamjeet, in the meantime, developed his love for images at an area photograph studio in Kargil whereas he was nonetheless finding out on the Suru Valley Public College.

“I developed a eager curiosity in images whereas spending time at an area store referred to as Canon Photographer, the place I usually noticed Anoop Singh, the proprietor, and his son, Sanjeet Singh, passionately capturing and modifying images. This expertise ignited my fascination for images, main me to pursue a Bachelor’s diploma in journalism and mass communication in New Delhi,” he says. 

“After graduating from journalism college, I had the chance to work with Kargil In the present day, an area media channel, the place I labored as a photographer and media skilled for over three years,” he provides. 

Studying tips on how to seize nature’s best

“I initially relied on cameras borrowed from acquaintances, utilising them as my instruments to delve into images. YouTube tutorials performed an important function in guiding me by way of the educational course of. In 2016, I joined Roots Ladakh, a journey firm run by native entrepreneurs, Muzzamil and Taffazul Hussain, assuming the function of their social media content material creator,” says Karamjeet. 

“It was throughout this era that I seized the chance to delve into wildlife images. My duties expanded as I started guiding teams for Roots Ladakh and serving as a naturalist after they inaugurated their wildlife lodge referred to as Drenmo in Drass,” he provides. 

Throughout this stint with Roots Ladakh, his fascination with the Himalayan Brown Bears deepened. The journey firm has been engaged in numerous Himalayan Brown Bear-centred conservation initiatives, notably by way of their Drenmo Lodge, and the emphasis of those initiatives is to scale back the battle between native folks and the creatures and promote eco-tourism.

Photographer looks at Snow leopards and Himalayan Brown Bear
Himalayan brown bear

“This connection offered me with the possibility to collaborate with the area people, the place we collectively engaged in initiatives to lift consciousness concerning the significance of wildlife, notably the Himalayan Brown Bear, within the area,” he explains. 

An interesting and solitary creature, the brown bear has a superb sense of scent and may run at a pace of 64 kmph. As Niazul Hassan Khan, an area researcher finding out the Himalayan Brown Bear notes in his explainer for Nature inFocus, “A subspecies of the Brown Bear (Ursus arctos), the Himalayan Brown Bear is essentially confined to rolling uplands, alpine, subalpine, glacial moraines and barren areas of the Higher Himalayas and a few elements of Trans-Himalayas…[In India] They’re predominantly discovered within the Kargil area of Ladakh, the place their distribution is fragmentary, unfold throughout Drass, Suru valley, Shargole, and Zanskar.”

Brown Bear and Snow Leopards in Ladakh taken by a Photographer

In addition to the folks at Roots Ladakh, Karamjeet feels that he owes his improvement as a wildlife photographer to Zaheer Bagh, an area hotelier and wildlife fanatic in Kargil.

“His unwavering help and shared ardour for exploration have made him a continuing companion, and collectively we’ve explored numerous elements of Kargil and photographed completely different species of mammals and birds. I don’t personal a automotive or a two-wheeler, so he would usually take me to locations that had been too far out to be reached by foot,” he explains.

“Whereas I did grasp the fundamentals of images throughout my bachelor’s research, the actual studying occurred within the pure panorama. I immersed myself in steady experimentation with any digicam that got here my approach. My studying course of concerned making many errors and gaining quite a lot of insights from the folks in my environment,” he provides. 

Pallas's Cat
Pallas’s cat

Capturing these unimaginable photos

What’s the key behind how he takes these images? 

“There is no such thing as a large secret. I simply seize my digicam and shoot no matter catches my eye. For wildlife photographs extra particularly, it’s a bit completely different. I head to locations identified for wildlife, await hours scanning the realm, and generally, there’s nothing to point out. Wildlife is unpredictable, you understand?” he says. 

He provides, “However there are these instances when a wild animal pops up out of nowhere and places on a present. So, I attempt to at all times maintain my eyes open guaranteeing that I don’t miss a possibility to seize one thing within the wild.”

One such alternative arrived within the winter of 2020-2021 when he captured a charming {photograph} of a Himalayan Brown Bear surrounded by feral canine. For this, he gained the second runner-up prize (Conservation Points) within the Nature inFocus Pictures Contest 2021.

Karamjeet's award-winning photo
Karamjeet’s award-winning photograph

Because the quotation notes, “A rising concern with wildlife conservation in Ladakh is the growing variety of feral and free-ranging canine. Their means to multiply quick is taken into account a menace to the opposite animals thriving in the identical habitat. Nonetheless, the picture reveals how the locals have turned this drawback into an progressive resolution for his or her woes.” 

“The canine seen right here had been feral, however the locals domesticated them to later make use of them to discourage Himalayan Brown Bears from getting into their villages. The system appears to work effectively for the villagers, because the canine maintain the wild animals at bay and alert the folks about them,” it provides.

Snow Leopards and Tibetan Wolf in Ladakh taken by Photographer
Tibetan wolf

Additionally serving to him alongside the best way to take these charming images are pals and acquaintances who’re naturalists, guides, photographers, spotters, and have contacts in villages. 

“They’re at all times type sufficient to share details about wildlife sightings at any time when one thing attention-grabbing is occurring. This neighborhood is incredible with networking, so each time there’s any particular wildlife exercise, we make sure that to tell one another,” he provides.

The endangered Urial, also known as Shapo.
The endangered Urial, often known as Shapo.

At present, Karamjeet makes use of a Canon R5 digicam paired with a first-rate Canon lens for wildlife images. Nonetheless, the method extends far past simply capturing photographs; it entails numerous hours and a meticulous modifying course of for each movies and images. He additionally depends on Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop to edit his photos and makes use of DaVinci Resolve to edit movies. 

“My proficiency with these software program instruments has been developed by way of hands-on experimentation and from pals who use them and devoted studying from tutorials. Regardless of the time invested, I contemplate myself a learner within the realm of modifying,” he says.

Eurasian kestrel
Eurasian kestrel

Present Work

As acknowledged earlier, his journey led him to work as a naturalist, guiding wildlife teams for Drenmo Lodge in Drass. “The lodge primarily focuses on Himalayan Brown Bears. The season for these bears runs from April to October with a hibernation interval afterwards, making the job seasonal. Fortuitously, the Snow Leopard recognizing season takes over from December to April,” he says. 

Eurasian eagle owl
Eurasian eagle owl

“Final yr, I had the privilege of studying from people primarily based in Leh who’ve been actively concerned in snow leopard tourism for over a decade. Notable figures embrace Gulzar Hussain from Snow Leopard Execs, George Otpal of the Home of Rumbak, Rashid from the Lungmar Camp, and Morup Namgyal from Shan at Uley. They generously present freelance alternatives. Not solely do I get the possibility to {photograph} the elusive snow leopard and different mammals however I even have the chance to information teams. By way of these experiences, I gained precious insights into the world of snow leopards. Along with my pals, together with Morup, Arhaan, Noor Jahan, and Kesang, I commonly embark on wildlife explorations,” he provides.  

Snow leopards with their prey
Snow leopards with their prey

Just lately shifting base to Leh, he’s working as a naturalist and photographer for the various freelance initiatives he undertakes. This has develop into his supply of livelihood for the time being. 

“Moreover, I’ve now began main unbiased images excursions throughout summers with enthusiastic photographers from numerous elements of India, as we discover completely different areas in Ladakh and seize magical moments by way of our lenses,” he says.

Majestic male urials
Majestic male urials

Venturing into the wild, Karamjeet can be aware of the actual threats to the area’s exceptional fauna and what we will do to deal with them. 

“The most important menace to Ladakh’s unimaginable wildlife is the lack of information concerning the significance of wildlife in our ecosystem. Human encroachment into their territories poses a big problem. Moreover, the overpopulation of stray canine in Ladakh is a urgent difficulty. Elevating consciousness and selling accountable coexistence can play an important function in addressing these considerations,” he explains. 

(Edited by Padmashree Pande; Photos & reels courtesy Karamjeet Singh/Instagram)

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