It’s been a monumental journey moving into the fifth year of JLR Explore, after completing four years of the simple thought of showcasing Karnataka’s best and unexplored life forms through a web platform. JLR Explore has been a baby of passion and will always remain that. And its small team, which is passionate about the natural world, keeps it going. Contributing to this are our contributors, who are equally passionate about nature.

Any web portal generating content specifically limited to a small bio-geographic region has its advantages and limitations. Initially, when we decided to focus on Karnataka and its natural history, we were unsure of whether content would come in regularly; years down the line, we are glad to be a repository of Karnataka’s bountiful biodiversity. Captivating visuals continue to rule online, and JLR Explore is no different.  The Explore team constantly keeps that in mind, and brings you stories that are driven by images. What also proved important is the rapid change in the way people consume content. With an increase in internet speeds, and mobile phones becoming the go-to device for content access, falling attention spans is no longer to be cribbed about, but something to be adapted to.

Over the years, what we thought would be a line of extreme persuasion, has now become a consistent and sustained flow of stories from the research and scientific community. Research has a large platform on JLR Explore in the form of popular science articles, which mainstream nature lovers have devoured and appreciated. This is a win-win for all. We will continue to persuade – even pester, if need be – researchers and scientists to write for JLR Explore. We would like to acknowledge their immense contribution to the growth of JLR Explore.  

The JLR Explore team. Photo courtesy: Sumeet Moghe

Karnataka in general, and Bengaluru specifically, have now become hubs of conservation activity not just within the country, but in the world as well. Annual events like SCCS and Nature in Focus are drivers for the gathering of conservationists and nature lovers. Adding to this is the sprinkling of nature-related events like film festivals, bird festivals, birding meets, and photography meets.  All these are melting-pots for ideas on conservation, wildlife and photography. A question I get asked repeatedly at these events is how one can move on to the next level in conservation or nature photography. To conservationists, I recommend pursuing environmental stories for over a year, and not just a weekend. To photographers, my advice is simple: photograph on foot. Bring your camera out from the vehicle and make it walk along with you. There is a whole new world one can capture, once on foot. The Karnataka Forest Department understands this, and has now opened up pristine forest areas in Karnataka for guided trekking, under the brand name ‘Ecotrails’, which can be accessed through myecotrip.com 

Karthikeyan – JLR Explore’s Chief Editor – is now encouraging naturalists working in different JLR locations to write for Explore.  Radha and Raji are always trawling for new talent, and are indefatigable in their quest. What makes JLR Explore unique is its core – its team – always accessible and eager to help. My sincere thanks to them. Jungle Lodges and Resorts, hosting and driving JLR Explore, is also responsible for the camaraderie in nature tourism related activities in Karnataka. Thanks to the support of JLR’s management, JLR Explore continues to grow, aiming to bring you stories and articles that educate, delight, and surprise.