Our Team

 

Sumantha Ghosh

Conservationist and Naturalist with over 15 years of field knowledge is the founder of Rural Traveller.

 

Prasanna Gautam

Though Prasanna has been living in Delhi for last 20 years, he is still firmly connected to his roots in the small town of Darjeeling District. After completing his graduation in Darjeeling, he worked with Department of Tourism (DGHC) for three years before coming to Delhi.  A trained mountaineer, river guide and a trekking guide, during his 20 year career he has travelled extensively in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Fareast, the Middle East and Europe. He has led treks in Eastern Himalayas, Western Himalayas and to the Everest base camp. He has also led camel safaris and bicycle tours in interiors of Rajasthan apart from leading numerous culture and special tours.   Coming from a small town where he spent the winter vacations in his maternal home in a village – his love for nature and wilderness has remained intact even though he is based in Delhi. In fact, it is this love for nature and wilderness that has prompted him to start his own outfit so that he could focus more on nature and wilderness. During his career as a professional, he has worked in the Singalila National Park, co-ordinated logistics for Snow Leopard conservation programme for Earthwatch during 1995 – 96.  His deep understanding of culture, nature and lifestyle both rural and urban dwelling has enabled him to realised the concept of coexistence and respect for nature.

 

Keith Waters
Has been with the Rural Traveller since it’s initiation in early 2008. Hailing from Southern Africa and having travelled the world to over 25 Countries, on four different continents he has gained valuable first hand experience in the conflict that can occur between Man & Animals as well as broad knowledge base of World Wildlife. He was one of the youngest ever members of the Swaziland Ornithologist Society.

 
Whilst working in the Corbett Area his passion for snakes has led him to set up the first Snake conservation project in the area. Working closely with the villages he has helped rescue and release many volatile and endangered species such as the Common Krait, Spectacled Cobra, Indian Rock Python and King Cobra.

 
His work in the Corbett area has often seen him making the News and has been interviewed on various occasions by NDTV for his role in Mahseer Conservation, Snake Conservation and his opinions on the effects of tourism in India.

He participated in a Sustainable Tourism course headed by Caroline Wild and Rajeev Bhartari, and works closely with TOFT in the Corbett Area. He has led countless tours into Corbett Tiger Reserve and the surrounding areas.

 

Nandini Lall

The Lall family settled in Jilliing Estate in 1965 when it was more or less an abandoned fruit orchard which comprised of apples, peaches, plums, apricots and chestnuts. At this time Steve lall was serving as a fighter pilot in the Indian air force and effectively the estate was being looked after by his mother and father who was at that time serving in the Indian civil service . In 1974 Steve lall left the Indian air force and decided to settle in Jilling Estate. His aim of coming here was basically to save the estate and surrounding forests, both private and reserved. At that time the surrounding reserved forests were very thick and very well stocked with wild animals and birds, the only big cats missing were the tiger.  Farming and horticulture (apples,plums,apricots and chestnuts) was engaged in with mixed results. Jilling estate is from6000 to 7200 feet above sea level, facing north, therefore temperate fruits can be grown here. Since the family was committed conservationists, the wild animals were left alone, with the result that the crops were fair game and farming was not a great success. The area to be patrolled and looked after was in excess of a hundred acres and the income generated from the estate was not enough to keep things running smoothly. Staff was used to patrol the estate daily and this included maintaining the fire lines as well as fighting forest fires. The family’s relationships with the surrounding villagers was solid and they were also very co operative in helping to fight the forest fires and generally helping to see no damage was done to the forest. The villagers also benefitted by being given grass for their cattle and leaf litter for their cowsheds.


Attempts were made to help improve the life of the village folk by organizing self help and appropriate technology seminars, but this was not very successful as the men folk did not give enough support to the women.  After these rather shaky attempts to gain some measure of economic progress for the family and to also include chosen locals a decision was taken to encourage paying guests to visit the estate. The Lall family ensured a road was not made to the estate so a two kilometer walk up was mandatory for any guests coming up. A limit was also imposed on the number of guests coming up for the home stays to not more than five couples.   Over the years to the present, the surrounding forests have been rather badly depleted whereas the forest in the estate has spread and one can safely say that this is a rare case which will not have many parallels in Uttarakhand. Because of nearly fourty seven years of conservation and increase in forest cover the water catchments for water and the springs have remained constant and it is these springs which have been tapped by the water department to supply water to most of the villages, below and alongside the estate.  The wild animals have now congregated around and in the estate where water and grazing are convenient. Most of the visitors are people who are basically environmentalists at heart who yearn for the simpler offerings of nature, and since a very small number visit no undue load is put upon the environment and damage is avoided.


In these fourty seven years great changes have occurred to the general environment of the Himalayas, mostly negative. Snowfall was a regular feature which has more or less disappeared, and the rainfall pattern has also become shaky and less spread out , so lack of water during the drier periods is causing great hardship. The forests of Oak and alder etc have more or less disappeared due to human needs, so the future is quite bleak in general, but Jilling is one environmental success story where the ideas and practical efforts of a committed family are plain for all to see and savor.

 

Misty Dhillon

In 1994 young Misty Dhillon was first seduced by the mighty Golden Himalayan Mahseer and after his first few encounters, with what he calls a 'Majestic Goddess', it became apparent that his extraordinary passion was more than a seasonal obsession. Misty's burning desire to encounter the Mahseer consumed him as he spent hours, days, and years researching and pioneering patterns and techniques for catching these fish on both spinning and fly-fishing. 

It didn't take long before Misty began to dream of making his personal passion for the Mahseer into a fulltime career. In the year 2001, Misty took a step toward achieving this dream when he took a job with well a reputed white-water rafting company. During the next 4 years Misty managed, guided and quickly learned the ropes for running a successful outdoor adventure outfit. In 2004 Misty took a huge leap toward his dream by joining Mickey Sidhu to create their own company.  

Upon the company’s foundation in 2004, Misty and his team set off on several exploratory trips in pursuit of the finest waters, in Northern India, for the Golden Himalayan Mahseer particularly for fly-fishing enthusiasts. The company was clear on the high standards it wished to offer its clients and on its conservation oriented approach to benefit the locals, the future of natural habitat and the Himalayan Mahseer. 

On the conservation front they participated in various efforts by providing support to local communities for the benefits of sustainable angling tourism. These efforts slowly took started to yield results in protecting these fish and in managing these sections of remote rivers. In the year 2007 Misty got associated with the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) as one of their two International Representatives for India. 

Over the years Misty had the opportunity to host television shows for the promotion of the very special Himalayan Mahseer fishery. Angling show producers such as Canada based "What a Catch Productions" hosted by Kathryn Maroun, "Reel Outdoors" hosted by Chris Bailey, and "Hunt for big fish" hosted by Larry Dahlburg have all been hosted by The Himalayan Outback and have produced television shows on this legendary fish. 

In early 2010 Misty got certified by the Federation Of Fly Fishers (FFF) as the first Certified Casting Instructor (CI) of India. Hence taking a step forward to promote this wonderful sport amongst anglers from India.

 

Sanjay Chimwal
Born and brought up in the eastern periphery of Corbett Tiger Reserve at village Dhikuli. He is a fine embodiment of local sentiments and scientific point of view regarding wildlife conservation. A bachelor of Science and Post Graduation Diploma holder in Journalism & Mass Communication and Information Systems Management, this young man has declined numerous lucrative posts in the cities for his love for the forest. He went to Oman but headed back in 17 days.  Sanjay attended one week long course conducted by National Institute Animal Welfare (NIAW), Faridabad, Haryana in 2006. NIAW is a subordinate office of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Completed one year certificate course in tourism conducted by Industrial Training Institute (ITI), Uttaranchal to understand the role of ecotourism as a tool for conservation and how the tourism can be used to uplift the living standards of local people. Attended a week long Drought Proofing Programme conducted by Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) Bhuj, Gujrat.


He started the career with The Corbett Foundation, NGO that works for Wildlife Conservation. Main job responsibilities were to spread conservation awareness amongst locals. During the job with The Corbett Foundation worked with several schools and did many awareness programmes on regular basis with them. Worked with villagers and local communities for wildlife conservation and helped the tiger conservation programme of WWF-India, Mahaseer Conservation Programme of EPAC International and Medical Programme. (all above programme are the programmes of The Corbett Foundation). Helped in publication of quarterly Hindi and English newsletter on Corbett (published by The Corbett Foundation). Worked with Kids for Tigers Programme (Sanctuary Asia) as city coordinator. Worked with various other NGOs and Government departments during various occasions like wildlife week, animal census programme etc. Gave many conservation awareness talks to the Forest trainees of Kalagarh Training Centre, Corbett Tiger Reserve. Helped various students in their studies during their visit to Corbett.

 

Rajesh Bhatt

Expert Naturalist, Yoga instructure specializing in wilderness based yora, birder, botanist. Certified instructure for guide and forest conservation trainings.

 

Sudershan Juyal

Film- maker and handicraft out of junk are just some of the skills this inspiring man will share with those who desire.


Shivang Mehta

Shivang Mehta started his career as a journalist and later became a PR professional where he handled PR for leading edge companies like Evalueserve, Google and Bharti. He joined a media house in Delhi and met Kahini (now his wife and his companion in his wildlife journey) who took him for his first encounter with wilderness which transformed him into a strong custodian of the environment and its denizens. Shivang started his journey with nature and nature photography in Corbett National Park where he along with Kahini produced and directed - Wild Saga of Corbett - Corbett's only travel guide in 2004-2005. The film went on to be a part of the training curriculum for nature guides in Corbett.


In 2006, Shivang and Kahini conduct nature and photography workshops in Corbett. Having conducted a series of small scale events in and around Corbett, Nature Wanderers tied up with leading wildlife and photography related brands like Canon and Nat Geo and now Shivang along with his team conducts these workshops across national parks of India.

Shivang Mehta was also the brain behind Wild Clicks - India's only Live Photography Contest - which is supported by Canon right since the inception of the concept in 2010. Planned and conceptualised by Shivang this contest aims to give a platform to amateur photographers from across the country to showcase their mettle in a live format. Reknowned environmentalist and film-maker - Mr. Mike Pandey has been the judge of this unique contest.

Supporting various conservation projects, Shivang's work has been used by leading national and international publications. He is also a travel writer and columnists with leading blogs and magazines.

 

Imran Khan

Imran is a trained wildlife biologist and has done intensive research on varied aspects of wildlife management, ecology, biology and human dimensions in wildlife conservation relating to his Masters, M.phil and Doctorate degrees.  Tiger Conservation is his passion. He has also specialised in sensible wildlife tourism and has been associated with Corbett for the past 15 years.  Has been instrumental in executing organized wildlife tourism in Corbett and has nurtured the best wildlife resort in Corbett right from the architectural drawings to the full fledged operations and marketing it to the right segment.  Lately, he has addicted to learning more about the floristic aspects of Corbett besides actively grasping ethnobotany – traditional knowledge of plants for medicinal purposes.

 

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE
  • Promoting ecological tourism in and around Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) through educational slide shows/orientation talks, nature walks, jeep/elephant safaris, adventure activities, producing write-ups on varied aspects of conservation and conducting general interactions with esteemed inbound and domestic guests interested in environmental conservation and general itinerisation of the proposed and existing visitors to Corbett Tiger Reserve, be it wildlife enthusiasts, intensive bird watchers, adventure lovers, Corporates and conference groups, outbound training programmes of the corportes, intensive to moderate fishermen, etc. Pioneered in intensive horseback, dedicated elephant back and birdwatching itineraries in and around Corbett Tiger Reserve, 1995 till date.
  • Doing doctorate on tiger conservation. Field research has completed, and thesis to be submitted, 1993 till date.
  • Instrumental in reducing the dependence of the local village communities on the resources of Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve (RTR) through agro-forestry, livestock breed improvement and mobile clinical health services. Had also been the consultant to Rajasthan Forest Dept. in formulating the ecological development programme for RTR under GEF, 1993 - 1996.
  • Traveled intensively to quite a few Indian Tiger Reserves, National parks and Wildlife sanctuaries with the purpose of wildlife research and understanding the management implications, 1986 till date.
  • Obtained the degree of M.Phil in an applied aspect of wildlife conservation, 1992.
  • Possess Masters in Wildlife Sciences from one of the reputed and well-known Indian Universities, 1988.
  • Junior and Senior Research Fellow of the prestigious Wildlife Institute of India (WII), the only Institute of its kind in South-East Asia and worked on the following projects, 1989 – 1992 :
    • (a)Introduction of Manipur Brow-antlered Deer (Sangai)
    • (b)Technical Investigator, National Wildlife database project (Species-habitat, Reserve - habitat and Bio-Unit–habitat)
    • (c)Feeding behaviour of free- ranging tame elephants in Mudumalai WLS.
  • Carried out the following projects for various Governmental and Non-governmental organisations :
    • (a)Surveyed the Limber valley for the rare Western Tragopan (Tragopan melanocephalus), 1987.
    • (b)Surveyed the Sarus Crane (Grus antigone) in western Uttar Pradesh, 1988.
    • (c)Surveyed the Upper Dachigam National Park for rare Kashmir Stag (Hangul), 1987.
    • (d)Carried out two short-term projects as part of M.Sc. (Wildlife Sciences) Course, schedule, 1986-88.
  • Attended the following seminars/symposia/workshops related to wildlife conservation, management and biology:
    • (a)Attended National/International workshops on Bird Ringing, Vertebrate Ecology, Field Research Methods, Population and Habitat Viability Analysis, Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) Techniques and Interactive Skills, Society for the Prevention of Cruelity on Animals (SPCA) Under the Animal Welfare Board of India, World Pheasant Association, Art of living and relationships,etc. Presented 04 papers on the above aspects.
    • (b)Attended an International symposium on the Tiger and presented a paper.
    • (c)Attended 03 Annual Research seminars of the WII and presented a paper.
    • (d)Attended a Tiger Link Seminar and presented a paper.
  • Recipient of the First Dr. Salim Ali Research Fellowship, 1988-89.
  • Member of various prestigious National and International Scientific Societies as BNHS, WWF, WPA, Animal Welfare Board, CBSG Sangai (IUCN/SSC), Nature conservation Society, Friends of Corbett Society, etc.
  • Had been instrumental in assisting and producing a BBC, Natural History and a National Geographic approved Bollywood Films in and around Corbett. Had organized the visit of late & legendary Nick Gordon along with young Indian film makers, sponsored by British High Commission, to Corbett. Nick had promised to make a film on the tiger but unfortunately died of cardiac arrest in the rainforests of Amazon while filming Jaguar.

 

Chandersen Kahsyap

Snake catcher. He spearheads the snake relocation programme in the Corbett landscape and has safely relocated thousands of snakes back in the forest.

 

Gerard David

Gerard David has been travelling the world for over 30 years.
After scientific studies, he went to Africa as Professor in Physics. He remained there several years, discovering the continent and wildlife photography. These passions never left him. Whether on the Zambezi River on the slopes or the Serengeti,or in the Forest in India , it follows the traces left by the explorers of the 19th century.


Naturalist at heart, it guides you through the observation and knowledge of animal life. Attentive to any signs, so you are better able to anticipate the unusual behavior and capture the best scenes of animal life.


Gerard DAVIDn now 57 was born in Paris. He is a Master of Physics at the University Pierre et Marie Curie. For 20 years he was in the computer industry. His encounter with photography was in 1974 during an internship the photo lab in Paris Match. In 1976 he taught in Gabon for two years. His first wildlife photography was in in North Cameroon and Gabon's forests. In 1994 he travel to the United States and Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia ...

 

Travel on all continents to discover the nature, animals and men.

  • 2002, India, in the footsteps of the Tiger of Bengal.
  • 2003 and 2004, northern India, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Indian Himalayas.
  • In 2005 photographer and traveling full time (Serengeti, in the footsteps of migration and births for wildebeest).
  • Since 2006, Creator and accompanied by several naturalists and circuits photographic India, East Africa, and Russian Far East (Nikon, Energy Trip, Terres Oubliees Collaborating agency Photographic Planete Bleur Images , The Nikon School trainer in charge of Workshop  Wildlife Photography nature (Kenya, Tanzania, India, France).

 

TOP Field Guides of Corbett National Park

Rural Traveller works with some of most knowledgable and experienced guides of Corbett. They coordinate and lead our birding and mammal excursions inside Corbett National park and other protected forests of India.

J.P. Khulbey, Prem Singh, Lalit Mohan Pandey, Lalit Tiwari, Rahul Tiwari, Manoj Kandpal, Nirankar, Bashant Negi, Devendra  Rawat, Govid Bisht, Syam Bisht, Girish Sharma, Khem Mawari, Mahinder Negi, Harish Bisht and Hem Bahuguna.