Gaurav took his first pictures – snaps of family and pets – at the age of just three, with a basic camera from his father. Later, on holiday in India’s Mudumalai National Park, his dad let him borrow his SLR camera – and Gaurav’s passion for nature photography began. He has since photographed across India and won several awards, including in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
Gaurav set out to document the plight of the lion-tailed macaque.
One of the most endangered macaques in the world, they are found in the Western Ghats in southwestern India. He had just two days in Valparai, a tea plantation, to get the images he needed before he had to return to school. Once an extensive tropical rainforest, much of the area was cleared towards the end of the nineteenth century for tea and coffee planting. The lion-tailed macaque (its long, thin tail tipped with a tuft of black) survives in small, fragmented populations in the remaining forest patches. The total wild population is now fewer than 4,000. And the monkeys are increasingly coming into conflict with humans. Road kills are common, though in some areas deaths are being reduced by speed restrictions. Macaques are usually shy, but some are becoming aggressive, raiding homes and vehicles for food. Gaurav had to be flexible to get the shots he wanted on his mobile phone. ‘Photographing such dark subjects in the dimly lit forest using a mobile phone proved almost impossible,’ he explains, ‘so I focussed on the few troops that stayed near the roads where light was better’. He came away with an engaging portfolio that highlights some key issues affecting this endangered primate.