Latika Nath is a Conservation Ecologist, Author, Diver, and TEDx speaker who has been roaring high for the last 30 years with her breathtaking wildlife photography, conservation efforts, and books worth reading!
Born and brought up in one of Haryana's villages, Latika Nath, who is the first Indian woman to become a wildlife biologist with a doctorate in tigers, was always in awe of nature. She would go out with her father into forests, had many pets, and most of her time would be spent outdoors. "My grandfather, father, his brothers, my cousins, and everybody else in my family had a camera, and so photography was something that I naturally picked up as a child", said Latika Nath, who at that time had no idea that she was going to be called the Tiger Princess of India one day.
She did her graduation in environmental science and later wanted to do her Ph.D. on the snow leopard as it was her original love! Little did she know her thesis was going to turn her world upside down both in a good and a damaging way. In 1989 militancy hit Kashmir, and sadly her ancestral home there was burned down.
"We were one of the first few families to be targeted by the terrorists, and they killed eight people of our staff. They came in, gunned them down, and burned our houses. I was going to be doing my Ph.D. on snow leopards at that time, but after what had happened, we all had to come back to Delhi", she told Local Samosa with a miserable smile.
Subsequently, she also met the then director of the Wildlife Institute of India, H S Panwar, who challenged her to do her doctorate on tigers instead. "I knew it was going to be tough, but I accepted the challenge, and that's how I got into tiger conservation", she added. And since then, there hasn't been any going back for this boss lady.
Roaring with her work for the last 3 decades!
Latika Nath has been working for the wildlife conservation and resolution of the human-animal conflict for over the last three decades. She is also an author and, in 2001, was awarded the title of 'The Tiger Princess' by National Geographic. "Now I have started studying what is happening with big cats across the world. I am up to share experiences on conservation successes and failures with them so that we can learn from each other and adapt because issues are pretty similar across the board", she mentioned.
Nath is pretty optimistic about the future of tigers and feels if one place where tigers are going to survive anywhere in the world is India. "However, the government does need to seriously rethink what it's doing. I have been very upset recently that on the 50th anniversary of project tiger, the government chose to unilaterally take the decision to close it, which is surely going to be a problem", said Nath, who feels that Project Elephant and Rhino should have been combined with other projects, under one umbrella.
Ticking every box
Nath is more than just a wildlife photographer, though! This boss lady doesn't just do wildlife but also fine art, portrait, food, architecture, landscape, underwater, and food photography. She even does interiors and is also a diver.
"I have never limited and boxed myself. I like breaking the ceilings, trying something new, and pushing myself amazingly", she stated in a way that ignited an overwhelming surge of motivation within us. But Tigers remained her obsession, and that's what she believes is required to survive in a niche like wildlife photography. She feels it's an expensive field, and if you do not have anything unique to offer, things will be difficult. " You have to totally, completely, and absolutely believe in what you're doing and be passionate about it. Take good photographs and do something different", she added.