Rajni Shankar.

 Wildlife Photo-Artist and Conservationist.

“The Forest Speaks To Me”

“I have roamed the forests and wilds of India and in other countries with my cameras and a dream…that these green lands of a natural paradise be kept inviolate and in their pristine beauty. The wild is the work of God and this is my worship.”

My wildlife journey goes back to my kindergarten days, when as a five-year-old I travelled to the core areas of the forests, camping for days with my dad in the deep jungles. We lived through  the stillness of dark nights, listening to calls echoing through the trees, owls hooting away, crickets stridulating the entire night, and the distant croaking of  frogs in the nearby pond. We had the unforgettable experience of hearing a tiger’s growl in the woods while sitting at our blazing bonfire as we heard stories of Man-eaters told by the Mahouts.


Spending a night in the forest is special and used to be my birthday gift (which I cherish to this day) These were my initial years experiencing forest life. This was the beginning of my love for the wild and my early wildlife takeoff, equipped with a 55mm still camera (manual), a 700mm -Kodak movie camera, and a normal handycam  along with  powerful binoculars (used for hunting).


All through my childhood and the teens and after, the forest has been my second home, its birds and animals and trees and rivers a part of my world. And I work to bring all this to the world that seems to have forgotten that Nature is the basis of all life. I have educated myself for this work, prepared for it and dedicated my life to it.


I graduated Still Photography and Filmmaking  from ‘Triveni Kala Sangam’ with Aseem Sharma and O.P Sharma ji  , they are my mentors and gurus who upskilled the intricacies in understanding the nitty-gritty of camera handling and film making.


At ‘Riverbanks   studios’( New Delhi), I had the opportunity to hone , my camera skills as well as learn the professionalism of a   Production House, from editing to script writing etc.


I had the privilege to assist   Sohan Singh ji in Haridwar, on his rewarding  project on the Van  Gujjars of Indian forests.

A work in progress is my documentary film under production on the ‘Van Gujjars of Northern India. This film is a of their lives as they have evolved in the forest  for may centuries, their civilisation and traditions in today’s world from which they are almost completely cut off. This film also depicts their life in the various forests.  Sohan singh ji , a leading Photographer, has documented an extensive and important study, including interviews with theof the ‘Gujjars’.


I began my solo journey with a mission to the far land of Nepal ,driving through perilous forests of Valmiki National Park for the government of India and submitted a detailed report on the serious issues of tiger poaching by poisoning and snarling.

Part 2 of this project included ‘Katerniaghat’ -(a haven for crocodile enthusiastsand wildlife photographers)  and wildlife photographers)  where I worked with the WWF ( World Wildlife Fund ) in documenting breeding of crocodiles with a census report. I participated in the Bird count Project along with famous Photographers like Suresh Chaudhary ( A well known name in Bird Photography), Fazlur Rahman , Anand Kumar, Sonu Liladhar, Siddharth Singh etc…

This expedition enlarged my experience in Bird Photography for which I wrote an article published on the SAEVUS Magazine’s website .

This expedition enlarged my experience in Bird Photography for which I wrote an article published on the SAEVUS Magazine’s website .


At Dudhwa( A wildlife park in north India and home to Tigers , Rhinos, Elephants, Bear, and a large species of Birds,  my object  was to document and film the ever existing problem of the ‘Tharu Tribe’ settled on the periphery of the park. I had the opportunity to interview the chieftain of  the Tharu Tribe. I collected data that included details of the land area occupied by this tribe, their involvement in  hunting  etc and the serious problems faced with the forest department who plan to rehabilitate the tribe.


It was a rare honour and a learning experience to have had the  privilege to interview ‘Billy Arjan Singh’ on  problems facing  tigers and leopards in the forests of India. It was unforgettable for me to have met him in his last years with at his farm and to  understand his great thesis and beliefs on  wildlife and conservation.  A documentary depicting his ideas in various conservation projects is being produced as a tribute to his achievements and honours received from leading wildlife organisations.



It was exhilarating to visit ‘Lulea’ a small village in the Lapland, Sweden, with  multifarious and serene forests covered with snow most of the year. They are ideal for snow sledging, trekking and hunting moose, with permits and living in  wooden cottages on your own.

A photographer never stops learning and seeing things in new ways. Every trip into the forests presents itself with different surroundings and variations . Wildlife photography, as exciting as it is, delivers the additional ‘high’ of bonding with natural surrounding in their pristine  form, with ‘never a dull moment’. The dusty ‘Kacha’ track of the forest will always drag you back.

There is a lifetime ahead for me of work in the wild. New projects focussing on old problems of Man against Nature.  To write about and research and photograph the beauty of all the creatures that exist on Planet Earth. 

It is a suicidal mistake that we think we can progress as we destroy Nature. We have worshipped our gods in all cultures for centuries and yet have not realised that Life and Nature are indeed the manifestations of the gods we worship.

It is my work to study and celebrate and help the wild and its creatures. Not only is this a legacy of my father, who is still happiest when in the deep forest, I also carry the torch left to me by great wildlife conservationists. I share with them the belief that there is nothing more sacred than Nature. It is silent and patient and supremely powerful. And when I am in the forest, it speaks to me.