Aishwarya Sridhar has become the first Indian woman to win at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards. The 23-year-old was announced as the winner on October 13 at the Natural History Museum in London.
From among 50,000 entries sent in from over 80 countries, Aishwarya’s photograph titled ‘Lights of passion’, won the Highly Commended Award in the Behaviour Invertebrates category at the 56th Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award – Adult competition.
She is also the youngest person to win the award in the Adult category. In an interview with Kool Kanya, Aishwarya couldn’t help but gush about the accomplishment herself. “It really feels wonderful! I can’t believe I’ve achieved this at such a young age!” she laughs.
A Passionate Conservationist, Her Passion For Nature Shines Through In Her Work
Aishwarya wildlife photographer, writer and filmmaker by profession. She says her passion for nature and the beauty in the wild started at a very young age. “When I was 11 my dad gifted me a camera for my birthday. I began clicking and there was no going back! From there the passion for photography and wildlife began to slowly grow more and more,” she says.
A zealous conservationist, in addition to being a wildlife photographer she is also a conservation photographer. In 2019, she had received the Diana award by the Princess Diana foundation for her remarkable efforts towards wetland conservation. She is also the youngest member to be appointed by the Bombay High Court to the State Wetland Identification Committee.
“We have just one planet to live on. And we need to conserve every creature that lives on it, including their habitats. Each one of these creatures have a vital role in the web of life and if one link is broken the web breaks too,” she emphasises. “If we want to survive, remain alive and healthy, we must do whatever we can to conserve what is left of the natural world.”
Plans Ahead – Continue To Pursue Her Passion While Saving The Planet
Talking about her plans for the future after having won this award, she says is going to stay on track to working towards her goals, and doing her bit to save the planet along the way.
“I am right now working on saving a wetland measuring 523 hectares in Panje located in Raigad. I had made a film on the wetland two years ago, but today the wetland stands on the threshold of extinction,” she says. “Companies want to fill it up with huge residential towers. I wish our government would realise that this wetland is a heaven for migratory birds. If we build towers on it we not only lose this huge wetland, but the Theobald fishermen will lose their livelihood too!”
Advice To Other Young Girls And Aspirational Photographers
“My primary advice is to all the girls like me – don’t let your gender stand in the way of fulfilling your dreams. Whatever you want to do, do it – and with unapologetic passion!”
Congratulations Aishwarya – your accomplishments are an inspiration to young girls and aspirational photographers everywhere, and your determined effort to conserve the environment are hopefully an inspiration to everyone everywhere!
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