How a Tiger Forced Me to Start Writing

Tiger Fine Art BnW by Ishan Shanavas

Tigers are hard to beat in a staring competition. Believe me, I know it.

In 2017, my dad and I decided on a whim to visit a forest. It had been a great many years since we had been to a wild space, and so some primal instinct steered us into the forest. Our hopes were to see deer and elephants; we certainly didn’t expect to see the striped royalty of the Indian jungles himself.

But in a moment of divine serendipity, we round a bend to find this gorgeous feline ahead. In a blur of dappled gold, we stared at one another, his gaze searing itself into the back of my skull. Time was infinite, for I could stay like that forever. It was a vision of wild India at its most inspiring.

Seeing this phantom of the forest was also dim foreboding, for this animal flickers on the edge of extinction. They persevere in a world bent on hacking away its home for industrialisation and development. In that moment, I realised one truth: my purpose lay in the beauty and preservation of the animal kingdom.

The next few years saw me continually returning to the jungle. From tracking snakes to studying birds, I immersed myself in nature as much as possible. I devoured every nature book and documentary that came my way. Tigers and elephants dominated every art piece and high school science project back then. I skipped numerous physics classes and lunches so that I could rescue vipers and run after tawny eagles.

But soon I’d found that I had no way of mobilising my passion. Here I was, learning all I could about our natural world, but not harnessing that education for some tangible cause. How could I share it with the world? Not everyone can explore the wilderness and witness its beauty for themselves. I spent many sleepless nights wondering how I could utilise my thinking for this higher cause.

That changed when I discovered writing online.

Through the magic of the internet, I came across David Perell, and his message of writing on the internet. He spoke of how a blog commanded an authority that beats any resume. He demonstrated how online home where all your best thinking and content lives builds your authority in your niche, attracting all sorts of opportunities.

Writing probes into untouched crevices of my mind, drawing out my innermost desires and insecurities. It’s a life thrumming with eternal vigilance. 

Writing came to me during my bouts of insecurity, showing me a way out. Suddenly, I’d found a way of articulating emotions that, until then, only lived in my memories. It empowered me beyond words, for I could now spread my message to the entire world. It inspired me to inspire others.

And so I wrote. I shared my experiences with nature, and my vision for our wild world. I shared my photography and art, hoping that these emotive expressions move others as they have moved me.

Writing online got me opportunities I’d always dreamed of, like working on documentaries and walking through core tiger country. It’s connected me with fellow enthusiasts from across the globe, kindling conversations that I’ve waited years to have. 

I’ve become a staunch believer in the power of words because I see how these tiny manifestations of language have shaped our history. The great change makers of our time, from Mahatma Gandhi to Martin Luther King Jr, moved millions through their words. Words that flowed from their pens have brought people out of despair and hopelessness, demanding they strive for a better world.

Now I know I am no Gandhi or King. But I am a spokesperson for those whose voices have been drowned out by politics of negligence. I know that the right words spoken at the right time spur people into action. And so, borrowing words from the greats of our history, I write:

“I have a dream where our wild creatures can roam free, each with its place under the stars. Our future is ours if we trust in the conviction of our dreams. For this dream, I write – There is still some wilderness in our world, and that is worth writing for. For my wilder cousins, I write – If we can find meaning in their lives, we might discover some meaning in our own. For our stories I write – Their existence is worthy of all the effort we can put in ensuring it.

Let us not let the fire that burns in their eyes die out. We still have time to keep it aflame”.

Painted Stork Fine Art Shot by Ishan Shanavas

I wonder whether I am doing enough to save our wild planet. These words appear blurry as warm tears well up in my eyes, for I am overcome with emotion. Writing does that to me; it probes into untouched crevices of my mind, drawing out my innermost desires and insecurities. Akin to how the wild forces me to be alert, writing awakes my most deep seated senses. It’s a life thrumming with eternal vigilance. 

I sit here bare, hoping beyond hope to save these animals from extinction, for they have moved me far more than I deserve. These wild memories whisper from my past, guiding me as I move forward. I hope that through my writing and unerring passion, I can stand against these terrible foes and save the animals that I so dearly love. 

Looking ahead, I look at how I can speak up for our wild planet. I turn to all my creative outlets; photography, art, videography. I hope to create a world where tigers (and all wildlife) can live in peace, free as the jungles to which they belong.

I write on…

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Published by Ishan Shanavas

I am a young adult, interested in nature, photography, art and culture. An aspiring polymath, I share my learnings through my blog. I also include insights from my favourite books.

5 thoughts on “How a Tiger Forced Me to Start Writing

  1. Fantastic job Ishan. I’m so proud of your skill at asking for, receiving, and integrating feedback into your writing. This is a smoothly engaging, moving and richly rewarding article to read.


    See you in a few hours!

    Rick Lewis


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