From having a wild hyaena on her back to sitting at the foot of Darwin’s arch in the Galapagos and watching hundreds of sharks swim past her, T+L India’s A-List member Latika Nath has had many life changing experiences. She shares a few with us. By Simrran Gill
Excerpts from the interview with Latika Nath:
T+L India: From a degree in Environmental Science to your career trajectory now, can you take us through your journey?
Latika Nath: It has been a long and interesting journey. I have consulted for the United Nations and international NGOs like IUCN, WWF International, and ICIMOD. I was a hotelier for 10 years and then for the next 10 years I travelled the world and photographed the great cats and wrote to raise awareness about their fragile status. I have recently established Hidden India, with my partner, Vikram Aditya Singh where we will be focusing on conservation of wildlife and wilderness, cultures, and heritage through tourism.
T+L India: What have been some surprising experiences from your journeys?
Latika Nath: Once I was walking along the banks of a reservoir in Bandhavgarh. Suddenly there was this loud whooshing sound right next to me and I saw an osprey dive down and grab a duck. Bedlam erupted, and the osprey flew into the trees with its catch. The speed and the sound of the descent were incredible.
T+L India: What are the simple ways of spreading awareness about animal conservation?
Latika Nath: I use conservation photography and storytelling to engage audiences of all age groups, and spread awareness about wildlife conservation and the protection of this fragile planet. Nepal has a sizeable population of tigers as well.
T+L India: How can the two neighbouring countries come together for a joint conservation strategy?
Latika Nath: In Nepal, there is one government, and the army protects the wildlife and national parks. But in India, its more complicated with a division between the central and state governments, and an untrained, ill-equipped forest division having to combat heavily armed poachers. We need to increase cross border cooperation on wildlife, improve joint monitoring programmes, and be open to learning from each other. You have also worked closely with tribal communities and in the field of human-animal conflict.
T+L India: What sensitive factors do you keep in mind before approaching them?
Latika Nath: I always remember that I’m the outsider who is invited into their homes. I need to respect the fact that they are the true guardians of the big cats. Small, real steps that create a visible impact and benefit the people help gain their confidence and trust. Above all, it is imperative they accept that I am not there for any monetary benefit and that I’m in for the long haul.
T+L India: How would you describe yourself as a traveller?
Latika Nath: I truly am the new age purposeful ‘luxurian’, someone who values sustainability and cares for the planet while focusing on experiences that change me. Most travel that I undertake is planned and immersive with the itinerary being creative, while letting me explore fascinating architecture, ancient culture and heritage, wildlife, and wilderness spaces in a truly authentic setting with personalised, bespoke guides.
T+L India: Two rules of the jungle you swear by?
Latika Nath: Learn to be silent and watch and always be prepared to see the unexpected.