Vaageesh (Age 9)
Why does the African wild mesmerize you?
I think it does to everybody who comes to Africa, because Africa is the birth place of man, and you always feel comfortable at home.
What is the most exciting experience that you have ever had?
The Cheetah that licked my head in Kenya.
Who do you think is more dangerous? Mike or a Hippo? Why?
Mike of course, as he is unpredictable, a hippo is always dangerous.
What is the sight you have always craved to see?
New creatures, any bird or mammals that I have never seen before.
What do you think is the best way to save and conserve our wildlife?
Save the land and animals will safe themselves, as they have been doing for millions of years.
What do you think is your greatest achievement?
To live every day to the fullest and try be happy doing it. I judge my life by happy moments, and days. Seeing animals makes me very happy.
Who has been your driving force? Why?
Myself, because if you are not your own driving force you will not achieve your great goals. I believe that I can do whatever I set my goals at. You must always believe in yourself.
What do you feel about your life with Mike? Has it changed you in any way?
I have learned a lot from Mike, He knows and understands Lions very well. I try learn as much as I can about wildlife. No he has not changed me, I might see some things in a different light than him, but we have the same goals in life, and thats to protect wildlife.
What animal do you think has always brought you good luck?
Wild Dog are my lucky animals, but when I see their tracks, I am on a mission to find them , sometimes for days. So you almost make luck in life.
If you weren’t a wildlife photographer, who would you be and why?
I would still be a wildlife guide and follow animals and share my stories, without a camera.
Navaneet (Age 9)
In Kenya when the cheetahs jumped on 4*4, how was the experience? I saw those cheetahs licking and smelling your legs. Did you feel happy, nervous or uncomfortable?
The experience was amazing, because a wild cheetah in the Masai Mara trusted me , that she would touch me. The Cheetah smelling my leg, that was a young cheetah, I was not worried about her, I just could not see her and I was not supposed to move.
Which is your favorite National Park in Africa? Why do you like it the most?
I like many, because they are so different from each other, it is hard to compare . The Wildebeest migration through the Mara is breathtaking . The hard walk up the mountains to see Gorilla’s in Uganda or Rwanda is life changing . The Sardine run, (small fish that migrate up the east coast of South Africa , it is the biggest movement of creatures on the planet) is chased by whales, sharks, dolphins , seals and sea birds diving at the same time is beyond belief. Then there are wild dog hunts in Botswana and Namibia panoramas. Remember Africa is big, we have over 3000 protected wildlife areas, 198 protected marine areas 50 biosphere reserves and 80 wetlands.
Have you taken a look at Indian Wildlife. If interested, which Big Five will you choose?
I have never been to India, but one day I hope to go. I would like to see a tiger, but it would be the general species that would interest me on my first visit.
Which types of animals do you like? Mammals or Birds and why?
I like both, I also like insects . I have spent a lot of time learning about the fish and sea. I like Earth.
Have animals attacked you? If so, how did you escape from them?
Yes, I have been attacked. My worst was an elephant that rolled my vehicle about, while I was in it, at night. I had no choice but to sit it out.
In mid eighties, what was your passion? Volunteering or research?
Learning as much as I can.
Are you not scared of crocodiles when you stand in cold water to view elephants in Botswana.
Yes I am scared of crocodiles, it is very dangerous going near the water in many African rivers. Crocodile kill a lot of people, they can launch themselves and grab you when you are one meter from the water. When we are in a river we have somebody on croc duty, looking for them as a early warning sign but they can swim under water and so our strategy is not a great one.
How long did you wait for the right moment to capture a picture of your favorite animal?
I do not really wait, I work a lot in the bush with wild animals, so I wait for the light to be good and then drive around and find animals to take pictures of. I never sit in a hide waiting, if I see wildlife far away, I will get into a photo position and wait about 15 minutes.
How does it feel
to work in such a
big show? You must
be proud of
yourself. Does your
mommy scold you for
getting too close to
wild? My mother
scolds me if I get
too close to my cat.
Thats sad right?
- Siddharth, Age 4
Yes, that's sad, but sometimes you get bad cats that like to scratch people. My mother also thinks that I get too close to wild animals sometimes. But I just let my mother be my mother.
I want to be like you. I want to talk about animals and birds. But I don't want to work with a person like Mike. So my first question – what should I do to be like you and second, how can I avoid someone like Mike? - Vibhav Age 8
To talk about animals takes a long time to learn, so first you will have to study conservation for 3 or 4 years, then practical experience for 10 years learning as much as you can, then you will be ready, and you can work with who you want to. I only work with Mike on the filming project, I do different projects with different people.
Have you ever been chased by a elephant or a rhino? Am sure not everything is shown on Mad mike and mark. - Nithya Age 13
Yes I have been chased by both, several times. When I am with guests on a safari though, not filming, I was escaping.
Which one do you like better? African elephant or Asian elephant? - Akshara, Age 7
I have only worked with African Elephants, so I can not answer this.
Are zoos important? I get sad when I see them in a cage. - Aryaan, Age 5
Yes, zoo’s can be sad, but zoo’s can play an important part in saving wildlife in the future, as gene pools get smaller. Zoo’s should be educational centres for school children. Our Zoo in Pretoria is nice because sometimes you have to go the Lions enclosure 3 times before you see them because it is so big.
If I go closer to animals like you and Mike, will I get killed? - Muthu, Age 10
African animals, yes. But there is a way to stay alive, finish school and get good marks. stay healthy and keep your body fit. Study conservation for four years, work in the bush for 15 years learning first hand animal behavior. Find somebody that can watch your back (I have Mike) and you are ready, now you need luck.
Why don't you do a show all alone? We want to see more birds. - Mirinda, Age 9
Thanks Mirinda, you are right, I was looking for a bird show to watch and I could not find stuff for younger viewers. Maybe it would be a great idea for the future.
We know you love birds. Whats your favourite and why? What bird in India do you like the most and why? I like the Peacock a lot because of its feathers. - Preethi, Age 7
I like vultures, because to survive they have to outwit the Lion and steal their food. They have to also work together to do it. I would like to see a peacock in the wild, people keep them as pets in their gardens in Johannesburg, so I often hear peacocks calling.
I love bird watching. Can you give us tips on bird watching. Roughly how many species of birds have you seen so far? - Anand, Age 15
I have never counted how many birds I have seen. Buy a good binoculars that will last, you will see more detail. The more birdwatching you do the easier it gets and the more interesting it becomes.
Children Studying At
Rhinos cannot see properly or they have some visual problems but they rely more on hearing and smell. How would this sense of smell help this animal? - Mayank Malhan, Standard IX
Rhino have great hearing and smell and so do not need good eyes to thrive.
Why is rhinoceros’ skin so thick through they live in lush grass lands and rain forest regions? - R.Sneha, Standard IX
It has no hair for protection so has evolved a think skin.
If we prevent shrinkage of forest cover, can the act of conservation be reduced? - Snehlatha, Standard IX
Hopefully, but forests are shrinking world wide.
How can we protect one – horned rhinoceros which is getting endangered? - T.M.Vabhoosha, Standard IX
Protect the land, animals can look after themselves
White tiger killing a youth in Delhi zoo went viral, 2 months back. How could this tragedy be avoided? What kind of awareness should be given to public when such situations arise? - B. Reshma, Standard IX
You can not kill zoo animals if they kill humans, zoo animals hate humans and they have a right to.
How can we protect the places that are endemic to animals and what have the biologists and environmentalists done to prevent these problems even though they have knowledge about it? - Samyuktha, Standard IX
Endemic species sometimes get muscled out of an area from an introduced species from another countries. Human knowledge on the environment is very limited.
I have heard that elephants perform “death rituals” mourn and cry as humans do. Is it true? - R.R.Rajarajeswari Rao, Standard IX
A ritual, is a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order. Elephants do not do this. There is a degree of mourning, and they will all help in the rescue of dying elephant.
I find that there are lot of NGOs working towards wild life conservation in a particular region, but still we face threats. Why? - Tanvi Venkatesh, Standard IX
Not enough people care, so not enough money goes towards the species.
What are the animals which have the most threat of extinction? - Nasrin Nesha, Standard IX
I am afraid that many species are in trouble because of changing climates, and the species can not adapt fast enough.
Which animal possesses the greatest threat to human beings if its habitat is disturbed? - Nasrin Nesha, Standard IX
The bee that pollinates most of the flowers on earth. When the Bees die, we will have no trees and plants and flowers. Sand storms will rule the earth.
Can endangered animals be saved by saving their genes and multiplying them? Is this practiced in India? - B.Midhun Varman, Standard IX
Yes, you can save genes and use them in the future , and India has the expertise and facilities to do it .
The hair from the tail of Mongoose is removed by the tribal community to make paint brushes by killing them. What kind of awareness programmes is being set for them to understand that these are vulnerable animals? - B.Shivani, Standard IX
Thats terrible to hear that news, especially when we can make cheap paint brushes without any killing.
Are new species of animals evolving on earth? It is believed that nature eliminates few living forms to give way for newer forms. In such cases are conservation measures necessary? - P.B.Haritha, Standard IX
Yes, all the time, animals under pressure and have to change or die. We have to have conservation measures because we humans are changing the weather patterns faster that wildlife can evolve.
People tame some endangered wild animals. Is it fair to tame them? Will this human action affect the animal’s behaviour when sent wild? - Dinesh Adithya, Standard IX
It is unfair to put any animal in a cage, it is better to feed the birds in your garden or put out fruit for the squirrel. Then they can visit you when it suits them. Now we can see your skill of getting them to visit you regularly