Looking around and soaking in the beauty of nature, the naturalist is one amongst all of us. The term naturalist, having been in existence for long has come to represent many things to many people. He has no special degree. He may or may not ramble a long list of Latin names of the flora and fauna. However he has one important role - respect nature, absorb her beauty and spread the message to everyone around.
It is wise to remember that wild animals are highly unpredictable in nature. These are aspects on which training is imparted to the naturalist. In fact, carelessness is one quality that speaks lowly and scores least in the naturalist’s daily behaviour. Being alert is necessary as visitors too are often unpredictable in nature. It is their responsibility to monitor each visitor and respond to a situation in an appropiate manner.
The naturalist collects a bewildering vareity of experiences along his lifetime. Each incident differs, a good guide can indeed tell a million tales. Catching Shivanand wide eyed and peering into crags for spiders can be a lesson in itself while he is renowned for his ability to identify birds from a distance. Afsar is highly sought for his passion in wildlife and Prassana has particular interest in butterflies and insects.
And then there are the walkers. Men who trek in the jungles, pointing out insects, birds and plants to accompanying guests. Men like Pramod, Pundalik, Andy, Uday and several more who have traversed the jungles of Karnataka. Walking in the jungles brings about a remarkable perspective of experiencing nature in her glory. All good naturalists are walkers and explorers of nature first, taking joy in the flutter of a butterfly or the dew drop on a tender leaf. They bring to life stories that none thought would exist.
At JLR, being a naturalist is serious business. He is entrusted with the responsibility of managing visitors, educating them, briefing them on the code of conduct and sharing their personal experiences. The naturalists are trained and groomed by the Chief Naturalist, S. Karthikeyan to ensure that they match up to the highest quality.