Photo Competition Judge #1: Bittu Sahgal!

As one of the early promotors of conservation photography in India, Bittu Sahgal has an eye for original, outstanding wildlife photography and we are proud to have him on our panel of judges for the Augmented Reality Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award!

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Bittu Sahgal is the Founder Editor of Sanctuary Asia and the Chief Mentor for the Sanctuary Nature Foundation, which reaches out to a network of around five million supporters, readers and participants in India. He serves on the boards of several national and international conservation organisations and is one of India's foremost commentators on the umbilicus between biodiversity, economics and climate change. He lives and works in Mumbai but spends much of his time in wildernesses he protects, including Kaziranga, Corbett, Ranthambhore, Tadoba, and Dachigam. He works with fellow Indians and government agencies to help rewild India. 

As a judge, Bittu will be one of the three experts who look at the photos players are sending in. What he will be looking for? Bittu: "An image that manages to communicate a startling, aesthetic conservation message with few if any explanatory words."

Readers and (amateur) wildlife photographers feast on the gorgeous wildlife photos in Sanctuary magazine. But photographing virtual wildlife? Bittu had early inklings of what technology could do for sparking ideas in peoples heads. Over a decade ago, Sanctuary magazine created photos that meshed life in the city with wildlife. It's augmented reality avant-la-lettre.

 Decade old ad showing animals in the city, inviting people to get closer to wildlife

Decade old ad showing animals in the city, inviting people to get closer to wildlife

 Hippos and giraffes are photoshopped into the street scenes

Hippos and giraffes are photoshopped into the street scenes

Bittu Sahgal knows a thing or two about connecting people to wildlife conservation. Between digital and print, Sanctuary currently goes out to 60,000+ registered subscribers directly. Mr. Sahgal likens the magazine to the Grand Central Station for nature conservation in India. "But we neither make, nor run trains, except for demonstration purposes. We connect people and guide them when they are lost."

 
 The Safari Central app connects people to wildlife through virtual reality and data.

The Safari Central app connects people to wildlife through virtual reality and data.

 

Safari Central and Sanctuary have the same mission: reach a massive audience with great content and teach them about conservation along the way. Sanctuary has been around for forty years and Safari Central is just beginning. Does he have any advice for this youngster? Mr. Sahgal: "The key is making the individual feel she or he can actually make a difference and is not merely going through the motions of 'signing attendance' to be counted on the right side of the fence." 

"We are still bumped up animals" - Bittu Sahgal

Life is changing fast, more and more people are moving to cities and are less engaged in nature. How do we keep future generations engaged? Mr. Sahgal: "By explaining that, despite our imagined progress and 'cleverness' we are still just bumped up animals and are subject to the same larger rules that govern survival on a finite planet... that it will not be the strongest or richest that will eventually survive, it will be the most adaptable and flexible."


Do you want conservation and wildlife photography experts like Bittu Saghal to see your Augmented Reality Wildlife photo? Get the Safari Central app and enter your best photos to our photo competition. If your photo catches Mr. Saghal's eye, you just might win a safari for two to Tswalu Kalahari in South Africa!

Abhilash Krishnan