The Chital or Spotted Deer (Axis axis) is one of the most common ungulates in the Indian subcontinent.
In the Indian wildlife photography scene, the Chital are one of the most neglected creatures. In their ubiquity, they are rendered mundane, not worthy enough to be photographed. Scores of photographers traverse the Indian wilds searching for tigers and leopards to shoot, constantly turning a blind eye to the hundreds of Spotted deer they cruise past.
The great naturalists of old recognised the beauty in this herbivore, an emotion lost on wildlife enthusiasts today.
This puzzles me, for I see the spotted deer as one of nature’s most marvellous creatures.
One of the most appealing traits of the Spotted Deer is its stunning coat. A brilliant orange hide dappled with white dots, this deer is splendid in every sense of the word. It carries itself with a subtle grace, a testament to nature’s angelic artistry.
I am reminded of a line by Kenneth Anderson, who, when describing a Chital stag, said, “I hope that no hunter, human or animal, has brought him down, and that he stills roams at the head of his harem in that deeply green and refreshingly moist, cool glen—lordly and free as the jungle to which he belongs“. The great naturalists of old recognised the beauty in this herbivore, an emotion lost on wildlife enthusiasts today.
In my several years of marvelling at this gorgeous animal, I wondered how I could best photograph it. I thought an abstract approach that used its dainty contours of striking coat would be my best bed. Through my “Wildscapes” framework, I saw the Chital’s body as its own landscape and thus photographed it as such.
Chitalscapes is my attempt to fuel a new perspective on this overlooked animal. I hope more people revel in its allure and gentility; this photo story is a tribute to its delicate elegance.
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