- The Artist
One of the most beautiful and majestic animals I paint is Tigers. Thus far,all my sketches have been based on Tigers I observed in wildlife sanctuaries, zoos, and parks around the world. Being invited to participate in tiger research in India gave me an opportunity to see these magnificent creatures in the wild. And I have to say that the experience more than lived up to my expectations. We visited four of India's most famous tiger reserves and had many incredible encounters with tigers as well as other endangered Indian wildlife. Jim had backpacked across India in 1976 ,and still had a fair knowledge of how to get around in India ,and even remembered some of his "Hindi" language skills. It was interesting for him to see India today, 50 years from when he first spent two months in India.
India is such a feast for all the senses. The vibrant colors, smells, architecture, and people are so different from other parts of the world and so magical in many ways. From 5000-year-old tombs, to the crowded New Delhi market, we were constantly amazed at the diversity, history, and cultures of India.
Despite incredible population densities, somehow India seems to maintain its order and move forward through the surface confusion you see everywhere.
We had several opportunities to watch tigers up close and personal in their native habitat and I got to get just the type of sketches I need to do my artwork. The Indian people were incredibly friendly and helpful and appreciative of my work. We made many new friends and learned so much about the challenges faced by Indian conservationists. In India, with a high population densities they have, protecting wildlife's habitat is the most critical issue they face. We brought ARTS FOR ANIMALS program materials and established a wonderful new partnership with Pugdundee Safaris. They operate several award winning lodges in India and are extremely conservation minded and focused on protecting India's parks and wildlife habitats. They have won numerous conservation awards over the past 15 years for their involvement in local communities and their commitment to protecting India's wildlife habitats. Their lodges are awesome and constructed from beautiful local materials . They employ local villagers as guides, workers, and lodge personnel. We are incredibly fortunate to join Arts for Animals with Pugdundee Safaris to help thousands of Indian children learn more about the importance of their wildlife habitats ,and the magic of art.
Through our friends there in India, we met some really wonderful and dedicated conservationists who are working to protect wildlife corridors and tiger habitats. It's a daunting task because of the huge population India's fields and agriculture must support. As time goes on, it's become more and more critical that local people understand the value of their wildlife to both their daily existence and their future. Tiger tourism is becoming a more and more important factor in local economies and companies like Pugdundee Safaris are concentrating on making that tourism to sustainable. Needless to say we are excited about our new friends at Pugundee Safaris!