Into the wild
Promoting Sony BBC Earth’s new show Serengeti, based on the wondrous eco-system in Africa, wildlife conservationist Latika Nath talks about her memories of the place, to-dos for tourists and how urbanisation is affecting the fauna
Spread approximately 30,000 km across northern Tanzania in Africa, the Serengeti ecosystem is one of the 10 natural wonders of the world. It is the best place to observe animals in their natural habitat, specially prides of lions.
Sony BBC Earth brings you the show Serengeti to take you on a virtual trip through the land of The Lion King and discovering the most iconic Savannah animals in the world. Latika Nath, wildlife conservationist and photographer, who has been brought on board to promote the show, shares more about this unspoilt corner of Africa:
Tell us about your association with the show Serengeti.
I have been working in the sphere of wildlife conservation for nearly three decades now and one of the most memorable places I have visited is the Serengeti. I typically use my photography to record the emotions and behaviour of animals and it has been wonderful to be associated with Sony BBC Earth for a show like Serengeti where the viewers are introduced to this side of the natural world.
Can you share your experience in Africa. What are some of your most interesting memories of the place and the fauna there?
All of Africa is magic. I remember when I saw my first cheetah in the wild, I cried and took photographs, dripping tears of joy all over my camera. It was the incredible experience of being in the presence of an animal that I had wanted to see all my life, and she had cubs. The sighting of every new species is a treat. For a student of biology like me, every visit was like a glimpse into fabled lands.
What is your advice to tourists who travel to Africa for safaris and to be introduced to the wildlife there?
African wildlife experiences are life changing. Be prepared to be amazed at the scale of things. It is very different from the Indian experience just in sheer terms of scale — to see vast expanses of uninterrupted wildlife habitat stretching from horizon to horizon, to be able to sit with a pride of lions, to watch a few hundred elephants at one place or a cheetah family run like the wind across the grasslands are all unique African experiences.
How is the increasing urbanisation in places like Africa affecting the wildlife? What is your take on the situation there?
Poorly planned agriculture intensification, settlements, infrastructure development, and resource extraction are driving habitat loss and fragmentation at an alarming and unsustainable rate, leading to the loss of critical wildlife habitats, the degradation of forests, rivers, and grasslands, and ultimately the loss of the continent’s ecosystem goods and services upon which both people and wildlife depend. Without adequate training, technical support, and empowerment, African leaders risk decisions that rank short-term benefits above long-term growth, leading to environmental collapse.
Because of urbanisation, you have wild animals like tigers, elephants, leopards etc entering human settlements in India too. How can we find a solution that works for both sides — wildlife and development?
We need to understand that we need the conservation of natural ecosystems to allow the existence of man in the long term. For this, we need to acknowledge the fragility of the natural habitats and to learn to accept that some of these spaces need to be kept inviolate for the animals. Man is at the top of the food pyramid, but nature cannot be destroyed for his greed.
Co-existence and tolerance for each other and all species is essential for the survival of life on the planet.