Ganderbal, Nov 12: "Wildlife photography requires determination, patience, alertness, and knowledge of the environment and animal behavior," quips wildlife photographer and ornithologist Irfan Jeelani. His love for animals, birds, and travel knows no bounds, and he aims to continue traveling to different parts to explore more things about birds and wildlife and gain new experiences with the wildlife .
Irfan Jeelani is a young ornithologist and a naturalist hailing from Kangan town of central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district. Basically a teacher in the education department, he is interested in nature and nature studies from childhood and is affiliated with Jammu and Kashmir mountaineering and adventure club (JKMAC) and has extensively trekked in Sindh valley. He has a Masters' degree in Disaster Management and Sustainable Development. Passionate about birds Irfan, started a bird club in Kashmir by the name of ‘Birds of Kashmir’ in 2020 and has a membership of around 9,000 worldwide. Bird lovers from all over the world are part of this club which documents birds from the western Himalayas (Kashmir Himalayas).
Talking to Greater Kashmir Irfan said that he and his team have been able to document some of the rare birds from Kashmir. " Little bunting, Eurasian curlew, white-tailed eagle, Eversmann's redstart, Blyth’s rosefinch, Rustic bunting, etc are some of the rare birds being spotted by the club," he said.
Irfan aims at creating bird clubs at the school level and college levels and to motivate more and more people into this hobby. He believes that Kashmir has an amazing habitat diversity and needs exploration so that its biodiversity can be properly documented. Jeelani said that being part of JKMAC, " I slowly and gradually fell in love with nature and wildlife photography."
" I have been able to photograph more than 350 species of birds from J&K. I learned the art myself and from Sarwandeep Singh, one of the top bird photographers of India," he said, adding that " I have been to other places outside J&K as well but my main focus is to document all bird species of Kashmir Himalayas."
" One thing I have learned from bird watching is patience and perseverance. When you are trying hard to observe a bird or photograph it, it is hard to get it in one shot. You have to analyze and think about where the bird might go next. This comes with patience and experience. It takes a lot of time to develop and to get it right over a period of time. You need a lot of energy, time, determination, and of course, the kill. I have faced these hardships many times and even today, when I pick up my camera looking for these birds, I am not sure how tough or easy a task it could be," Jeelani said.