Namiri Plains in eastern Serengeti has the highest density of cheetahs in all of Africa. We followed a family of three young cheetahs along with their mother for multiple days. The mother was clearly a very experienced hunter which was evident from the fact that she brought up three cubs in an extremely hostile environment. Over time, the cheetah family got very comfortable with our presence and the mother would frequently use our car as a vantage point to scan for other predators and prey. One early morning, we found them feasting on a recent kill of a springbok. The close proximity gave us an opportunity to observe their relationship. Between bites, the brothers would embrace each other and lick the blood off each other’s faces. It was grounding to observe this interplay of hunger, survival, affection and family bonds in this harsh environment.
My passion for animals coupled with my love for photography resulted in my pursuit of wildlife photography. My first safari in the wild impacted me in many ways. I wanted to capture it all - the expanse of the Savannah, the clear blue skies, the stark stillness of my surroundings. It was something I wanted to preserve forever. What started as an amateur endeavor– took on a more consistent role with each successive trip. I felt an urgent need to raise awareness of the myriad life forms that were threatened with extinction, not by natural selection or cosmic events, but by both the actions and inaction's of man. I believe that wildlife photographs are indispensable tools to inspire everyone towards a cause – conservation of the wild by creating a connection with nature and the need to protect it. I have traveled more than half the world and have lived in several countries including India, United States, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. My undergraduate degree is in Engineering and Economics from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York and I have done a Masters from Columbia University, New York. Last year, I completed my PhD in Health Economics from the University of London. Before my PhD I worked for a few years at the World Bank in Washington. But my time in the wild has taught me several important lessons, among them patience and perseverance. I have learnt to push myself harder and while doing so remain unperturbed. I have learnt to accept challenges that are out of my control - the vagaries of weather, difficult terrain, and my subjects with a strong mind of their own and still persevere. Stay with the subject for as long as possible, often the whole day to get that perfect shot. It's that focus on pursuit that has been my greatest learning. Both fulfilling and exciting. Website: www.sonalinikhetrapal.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org