Naturalist

SAGAR MAHAJAN

Location : Pench National Park

Sagar is a microbiology graduate and currently pursuing his masters in biodiversity and wildlife conservation. He has also participated in closely studying behavior of white rumped vultures. Sagar is charming and always ready to show the little surprises of the jungle in form of insects and reptiles. With his great story telling skills, he proves to be an associating company on nature walks!

Jeetaram Choudhary

His experience is the only measure of his age, that aside Jeet at 53 is times enthusiastic and energetic than young ones when it comes to wildlife. He has served Tiger Tops as a Naturalist for more than 30 years after which he joined us at Barahi. ’Jeet Dai’ as we call him is a dedicated naturalist and keen birder. A charming personality and a man of great temperament, he likes to listen and observe which always plays in his favor when it comes to tracking and sighting wildlife!

Bumoni Phukan

Bumoni Phukan, affectionately known as Bu, aged 28 years, was born near the Central Range. His father is a retired Forest Guard. He started his Birding and Wild life career as a guide in 2005. Worked as a freelance naturalist cum guide for ABN RV Charaidew & RV Sukapha during 2006 and 2007 accompanying cruise guests on wildlife excursions. He was transferred to Diphlu River Lodge from its start as a Naturalist in 2008.

He is actively involved with an NGO, Naturalists for Rehabilitation for Snakes and Birds around the Park. He also participates in Animal Rescue Operations with the Forest Department, mainly for the period of annual floods and local man-animal conflicts during the time. Has creditable knowledge of 5 Parks & Sanctuaries including Manas, Nameri, Orang & Dibru –Saikhowa, with a keen passion for Wildlife and Bird photography. His dedication, knowledge and sincerity have, following client reviews, made him a much sought after Naturalist. An added accolade; that other than for mammals, birds and reptiles is the maximum sightings of the most elusive Tigers in the Park for Lodge Guests, along with the other.

Yusuf Ansari

As General Manager of Sher Bagh; founded by Jaisal Singh in 2000, for six years (2007-2013) and now Director of Wildlife Experiences for SUJAN, Yusuf Ansari has some fascinating tales to tell about legendary Ranthambhore. A historian who has two books published to his name and a third one in production, Yusuf is a natural raconteur and passionate about wildlife and its habitat. According to his guests he sounds “more English than Hugh Grant” and is one of Ranthambhore’s most sensitive and engaging guides. The SUJAN family’s association with Ranthambhore goes back forty years now when Jaisal Singh’s parent’s first visited the remote wilderness to film tigers in the wild. Sher Bagh came about as a result of Jaisal’s own passion for Ranthambhore and Yusuf joined the young company in 2007 as General Manager of this pioneering, luxury-tented Camp. Since its inception in 2000, the campfire has famously burned every winter and this is where you are likely to find Yusuf enthralling guests in the evenings with his own experiences of wildlife and SUJAN’s commitment to preserving this little piece of paradise called Ranthambhore. “The first step of conservation is to create awareness about the need for conservation”, says the Director. “Every initiative in that direction is an invaluable addition to a larger effort and in Ranthambhore we are dedicated to this effort, every day of our lives. Tourism has a significant role to play and potentially is one of the most effective tools for conservation in the future.”

Varun Kutty

Varun Sankaran Kutty grew up in the foothills of the Himalayas, in a former British cantonment town called Kasauli. At a young age, Varun started developing a keen interest in the preservation of forests and wildlife, and along with 4 some friends, formed the Kasauli Scouts under guidance of officers of the Indian Army and the Society for Preservation of Kasauli’s Environment (SPOKE). At the age of 12, Varun saw his first leopard while returning from the Kalka railway station at night. Since then, leopards have always amazed him due to the mysterious life they lead and the suspense they create. Varun graduated from The Oberoi Centre of Learning & Development. He also became an active member of Les Clefs d’Or - The Society of the Golden Keys, which creates magic in hotel experiences. Having spent some time with hotels, Varun decided that he needed to pursue his dreams of working in the wilderness while he was still young. Hence began his career with SUJAN; which has always been passionate about its commitment to conservation and creating experiences for its guests in wilderness areas. He joined JAWAI as a naturalist in 2014 and so began a new chapter in his life of, love for the wild. JAWAI is a land of dramatic secretive granite hills, rural village settlements, untouched cultural traditions and is a home to wild leopards. Along with the SUJAN Field Team, Varun has been supporting and studying the harmonious existence of leopards and villagers, alongside SUJAN’s research of animal behaviour in the area. Discovering traditions in JAWAI, has also been a great learning and a source of excitement and awe for the team as well as guests. The team at JAWAI aims at creating exclusive adventurous experiences with its guests, and sharing with them their bundle of stories to unravel mysteries of the Indian wilderness and together strive for the conservation of India’s heritage and wildlife.

Abdul Rehman

Abdul Rehman joined Jim’s Jungle Retreat in 2011, and under the guidance of the lodge owners, Rehman aims to provide a thrilling adventure to our guests in the forests of Corbett. The JJR way of life is to provide information and knowledge of the interdependence of the flora and fauna to our guests, and to stress on the importance of saving the forests for the survival of our future generations. The best part, he says, is that he is able to provide our guests with the Gujjar Dera Experience and show them the lifestyle of his community.

Gajendra

A geography graduate, with a passion for wildlife and more than a passing interest in history, Gajendra heads the team of naturalists at Chambal. He is in great demand for his sharp eye, boundless energy, and the ability to communicate and connect with people across all ages and nationalities. A thorough professional, Gajendra has supplemented his knowledge and experience with diplomas in guiding, tourism & hotel management. Ever smiling and patient, Gajendra has an infectious enthusiasm, never tiring of sharing the wonders of Chambal with visitors.

Shanmuga

Mr. Shanmuga kumar K. was born and brought up in the tea planting town of Coonoor in the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu. He was drawn to the wild from a very young age and has had numerous encounters with animals in the wild since his childhood. He studied B.Sc. in Plant Biology and Plant Biotechnology from the Government Arts College and then pursued his Masters in Environmental Sciences from the Bharathiar University in Coimbatore – both of which laid foundation for him to pursue a career as a naturalist. During his Post Graduation he completed a six-month project on ‘The Status of Elephant Corridors Linking Mukkurthi National Park and the Eastern Ghats’. His experiences working on this project created in him a commitment to pursue a career in biodiversity and conservation. He has been working as a naturalist for the last four years and has a Naturalist Certification from the Karnataka Eco-tourism Board. He accredits his career as a naturalist to Mr. Sarath Champati, Associate Director – Conservation, at Orange County Resorts, his mentor and a naturalist par excellence, whose guidance has helped Mr. Shanmugakumar raise his standards as a naturalist with each passing year.

Rahim

Rahim has worked at Kipling Camp for over 20 years. He is a passionate naturalist who knows Kanha National Park and its surrounding area like the back of his hand, for he was born there. Considered the best bird guide in Kanha, Rahim is a keen wildlife photographer and a staunch conservationist. In his spare time, he loves to garden, and to plant and nurture trees. Rahim, his wife and their two children still live on the edge of Kanha.

Apart from taking guests on safari, Rahim also conducts bird watching walks, visits to nearby villages and farms, and helps monitor the wildlife camera traps on the property. He has been a Member of the local Panchayat, the cornerstone of local self-government in India, since 2011.

Siddharth Jadhav

Siddharth Jadav is our qualified naturalist who is well conversant with the local flora and fauna. He accompanies the guests on safari and acquaints them with the various siting of wildlife. He has the ability to identify and describe points of interest to our guests that will hold their interest. He gives talks on how to protect plants and animals that live in the wild. He is also at ease with children who accompany their parents on safaris and takes special care to explain to them the importance of saving our wildlife and wilderness areas.

Jaypal

The Sarai at Toria has no “head naturalist”. Our eco-tourism philosophy means trying to provide maximum benefit, including employment, to the community in which we are situated. We prefer to find interest and aptitude locally and train them up to naturalist standard. The way we see it is that if everyone were to hire graduate naturalists from outside, the local talent would remain at best as guides.

Our main naturalist-in-the-making at the Sarai at Toria is Jaypal Singh Rajgond. He began as one of our senior F & B staff members but he was always a very keen birder. The Sarai has encouraged his interest and deputed him as guide to several visiting scientists. He also went for a month’s training with David Raju, one of India's top naturalists and winner of 2014’s Sanctuary/TOFT's "Lodge Naturalist of the Year" award. He is very quick learner and returned with high accolades from David. Our guests are also very complimentary and always enjoy their safaris, bird walks, visits to the village and boat rides with him. He is now taking on the role of Sarai naturalist full time.

Sarai at Toria is always looking for ways to enhance the skills of the local community and we are very happy to work with Jaypal. What he may lack in scientific knowledge, he makes up for in his local lore and experience. Although not available to accompany you on safari the lodge owners are a well-respected biologist and wildlife photographer/naturalist who are usually available back at the lodge ready to provide information and discuss any wildlife and conservation issues that may come to your mind. Dr Chundawat earlier ran an eight year tiger ecology project in the Panna National Park.

Hatsy (Hitendra Singh)

The very best guides are the one who work in one area all their lives and know it well. Hatsy is a born game tracker: all creatures appear in a new light as he concentrates on even the most familiar. From appreciating the exquisite colours in the feathers of a roller, to understanding the size of the tiger by looking at its spoor on a dusty road. “I feel I am at my best in Bandhavgarh because I know it very well.” What has kept him guiding in Bandhavgarh for last 15 years is the sheer physical beauty of the landscape and the opportunity of being close to his tigers. His ability to see unique angles in familiar subjects produces fascinating experiences for the people traveling with him.

David

David brings with him an active interest in mammals, birding and entomology, and draws on an inexhaustible fund of experience and lore. David spends his vacations running observantly after dragonflies and butterflies, and gathering material for wildlife books one of which he has finally completed – An illustrated guidebook to the Dragonflies & Damselflies of Kerala. This has left him bereft of any further excuses to take extra holidays so out of desperation he is threatening to put together an illustrated book on Satpura.

Chirag

Chirag started his journey in hospitality from Park Hyatt, Goa. After which he decided to follow his adventurous heart to enter "greener" pastures. He has a strong knowledge of animals & birds of India, and specializes in reptiles & amphibians. He has conducted numerous herpetofaunal surveys and conservation workshops amongst indigenous tribes, and been a field guide for wildlife researchers in Arunachal Pradesh. He is an avid photographer who loves sharing his work through his online photo blog. He has also worked for 2 years as the editor of the environmental section of the magazine QUEST, which helped him develop a mastery over English, Hindi, Bengali, and Nepali.

Aditya Roy

Aditya is a qualified wildlife biologist working in the field of wildlife and conservation since 2000. He has extensively travelled in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya-Pradesh during his work on critically endangered vultures. Currently he is pursuing his PhD on toxicology of vultures from Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Coimbatore. He has worked with Bombay Natural History Society and Wildlife Institute of India for research projects on Vultures, Flamingos and Asiatic Wild-Ass. His papers and articles on vultures have been published in national and international journals. He has been into wildlife photography since 7 years and photographed over 350 species of birds across India. His photographs have been published in many books and photography magazines.

As a naturalist and tour leader he has led many birding, wildlife and adventure tours in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Western Ghats, South India and Central India. He is well acquainted with habitat, ecology and biodiversity of these regions. Aditya has excellent communication skills in English, Hindi and Gujarati. He also holds a great experience in handling large groups for camping activity.

Chirag

Chirag started his journey in hospitality from Park Hyatt, Goa. After which he decided to follow his adventurous heart to enter "greener" pastures. He has a strong knowledge of animals & birds of India, and specializes in reptiles & amphibians. He has conducted numerous herpetofaunal surveys and conservation workshops amongst indigenous tribes, and been a field guide for wildlife researchers in Arunachal Pradesh. He is an avid photographer who loves sharing his work through his online photo blog. He has also worked for 2 years as the editor of the environmental section of the magazine QUEST, which helped him develop a mastery over English, Hindi, Bengali, and Nepali.

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