Meet wildlife photographer Srikanth Mannepuri aka Andhra's 'Jim Corbett'

Storytelling by capturing moments of natural history and those of conservation significance is what Srikanth believes in all about.

By Sri Lakshmi Muttevi  Published on  30 Dec 2022 5:00 AM GMT
Meet wildlife photographer Srikanth Mannepuri aka Andhras Jim Corbett

Kakinada: Srikanth Mannepuri loves forests and wildlife. He wanders in the woods for days to rescue and rehabilitate animals. A wildlife conservationist, photographer, and filmmaker from Kakinada, he has embarked on a mission to bring policy change, promote a sustainable lifestyle and save nature.

Storytelling by capturing moments of natural history and those of conservation significance is what Srikanth believes in all about.

When did this all begin?

A native of Bhimavaram, Srikanth completed graduation in Biotechnology from PRG College in Kakinada. A certified open-water diver, he is now residing at Kakinada. During his graduation days, Srikanth used to volunteer for the forest department and did internships studying fishing cats and smooth-coated otters.

"I saw many publishing papers and research on a few species, rivers, and forests. But I realized many were not interacting with local communities. By publishing papers, they thought the job is done. I did not want to work that way. That is when I decided to start being a photographer, through which I wanted to convey visual stories," said Srikanth, who now volunteers for the Andhra Pradesh Forest Department.

Best Clicks

Getting the best clicks a day is what Srikanth focuses on. That is why he was named Wildlife photographer of the year. "Natural History Museum, London 2022, titled, 'Just One Day's Catch - Whale Shark rescue drone image in Visakhapatnam' is very close to my heart. Vizag coast regularly witnesses the death of whale sharks. In one year, we could rescue three whale sharks. The image shows the rescue of a whale shark with 27 fishermen and forest officials, who tied a rope to a boat and pushed it into the deep sea," said Srikanth.

About the 'Just One Day's Catch' award:

Since 2014, Srikanth's regular schedule has been to visit the fish market early morning in Kakinada. "I was shocked to see marlin and sailfish, considered the world's fastest fish, caught in large numbers. Both sailfish and marlin are top ocean predators and are essential to ecosystems. Generally, only 1-2 fish are caught in one day. Local fishermen use traditional long-line techniques. I decided to show a drone shot of fish catch to show the size of the catch is unregulated, and with so many immature fish caught, the industry is unsustainable," said Srikanth, who wanted to create awareness for sustainable fishing practices.

Concerned about climate change

Srikanth is concerned about climate change which he believes is happening with every single human activity. "The major problem is that we are only interested to know about climate change but not concerned about it. We should act now to have a better future. There is enough forest cover, but it should be protected properly," said Srikanth.

He believes a healthy lifestyle is healthy forests, oceans, and lands. A small break in the chain leads to destruction.

According to Srikanth, a lack of biodiversity awareness leads to climate change. Many places in the State are home to various rare species unknown to people. For example, Kambalakonda Wildlife Sanctuary in Vizag is home to the endangered wild dog- Dhole. It only exists in this patch.

Mangrove is a challenging habitat to work

Mangroves in Godavari are one of the interesting and tough projects he worked on. Mangrove ecosystems provide significant socioeconomic benefits, sustainable tourism opportunities, and environmental services. "Working in mangrove forests is the most difficult, as we have to walk barefoot in the wetlands. In 2018-2019, I was a part of a camera trapping exercise in Kakinada, where I had to identify the fishing spots. Every adventure of mine is dangerous, but I love to do it," said Srikanth.

"These amazing wetland forests are facing threats such as plastic pollution, human-wildlife conflict, ghost nets, and commercial aquaculture. Sustainable living and development practices will help these wetlands forests grow and help the planet earth".

His clicks about plastic trash in mangrove creeks, fishing cats trapped in hen cages, mangroves cleared for housing plots, and commercial aquaculture tanks speak a lot about the need for mangrove conservations in the Godavari.

Take stories of Andhra's wildlife to International level

"Everyone talks about Jim Corbett National Park in northern India's Uttarakhand State, Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh, and other national parts. But no one spoke about Andhra Pradesh.

I decided to make an impactful documentary film on the species in Andhra Pradesh", said Srikanth, who aims to see Andhra's wildlife on international platforms like National Geography, and Discovery.

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