I still remember very clearly, one day over six years ago, when a passionate group of people walked into the boardroom of the Jungle Lodges & Resorts office on Race Course Road, Bengaluru, in spite of it being a holiday. That day, the idea of JLR Explore took shape, with some very enthusiastic souls volunteering to be a part of the core team. Many from that group continued to be great supporters and are still a part of this journey. While the toils of daily life have consumed some, most of us have continued to work on the cause of bringing out stories on wildlife and nature from Karnataka.

As six years of JLR Explore have rolled by, the entire landscape of content consumption has undergone a sea change. Many a times, JLR Explore has weathered these changing consumer patterns. We have had our share of self-doubt whether JLR Explore has outlived its time and relevance in nature storytelling in long-form, where the whole world seems to be fixated on quick visual stimulation. However, I often run into young IFS cadets joining the state, who tell me that the portal was very useful and that it provided great insights into the wilderness of Karnataka, on a single platform. The research community shared the same feedback as well. The wildlife photography community spoke excitedly about it during my outings in the forest. When the same thing was heard across various quarters, we realised that we had put together something good. 

Every anniversary of JLR Explore is also the time for us to reflect on our strengths and I believe there’s nothing wrong in putting them down. The site is considered a ready reckoner for all things about wildlife and nature in Karnataka. Crowdsourcing content from writers and photographers is a model that has worked very well. A lot of lesser-known natural areas came into focus. Popular articles on JLR Explore helped in actual conservation of the habitats and species. Documenting nature stories have set the tone for showcasing enriching natural-history film sequences. Above all, a conservation community was stitched together. 

I am very excited about the seventh year of JLR Explore because we are finally announcing the JLR Explore Grant (JLR-EG). We feel that the time is ripe to broaden the storytelling format to include a special JLR Explore Grant that provides financial support to ensure that contributors are not only adequately compensated but also enthused to produce long-form and intense stories about nature. The grant will be a great win-win for everyone. JLR Explore Grant will also emphasise photo-stories and short video stories. We will also be taking on interns to manage JLR-EG updates on social media.

With the recent development that scientific research is eligible under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funding, we are happy that CSR can finally reach the research community to further their studies and documentation on nature and wildlife in Karnataka. The core members and supporters of JLR Explore have the expertise and knowledge to handhold corporates into supporting good research in the field of nature and wildlife, which can be showcased on JLR Explore.

One of the pleasures of any outing in the forest is the exchange of stories from the wild among a group of friends, over a campfire, with a drink in hand. Such storytelling sessions with exaggerated descriptions are a part of great memories of any jungle outing. JLR Explore intends to bring this kind of storytelling to you, with videos of great campfire talk to you on your device. This, of course, is still in the pipeline and has to pass by our tough editorial ethics team. 

The spirit of JLR Explore has sustained mainly due to the untiring efforts of the team, headed by Karthik, the Editor-in-Chief. He works in tandem with the team to keep the site going, besides writing his own blog, Wild Wanderer. Radha Rangarajan ensures that the content is sorted and ready, in the midst of her many roles between Nature in Focus and JLR Explore. Raji Sunderkrishnan juggles between her professional commitments and keeps things moving smoothly. Indefatigable as they are, they work extra hours to keep JLR Explore going. The platform owes it existence these three people for continuing to carry on the mantle of putting out stories on nature. 

Go ahead and show some love, by writing what you feel about JLR Explore. Also unleash you feedback sword and tell us how we can improve.