Brought together by a love of forests, Kahini Ghosh Mehta and Shivang Mehta founded Nature Wanderers in 2007, sparking the wildlife photo tourism trend in India. Their roles have evolved in the last 15 years, but their love for the woods and each other remains intact. By Sumeet Keswani
T+L India: How did you both meet, and where did your interests align?
Kahini Ghosh Mehta: At the start of our careers, we worked in a media house. Shivang was a journalist while I was in the marketing and sales team. Both of us were keen on the outdoors and adventure. My childhood was spent in MP’s forests—my father took me to Kanha and Pench a lot since he was in the irrigation department.
Shivang Mehta: In the early 2000s, I was into river rafting. Then, Kahini and I started visiting Corbett regularly as I took a break from river-based activities. The grandeur of the Kumaon landscape connected me to the writings of (Jim) Corbett, which I had grown up with. That started a bond with nature, which compelled us to question our corporate life.
T+L India: What led to the launch of Nature Wanderers?
Shivang Mehta: In 2007, we thought that if we could invite amateur photographers to Corbett for learning sessions, it would bridge the gap between the availability of advanced cameras and their usage on field. That led to the birth of Nature Wanderers. We didn’t know this concept would lead to a completely new industry segment—wildlife photo tourism.
T+L India: Which of your individual skills have shaped the success of Nature Wanderers?
Kahini: Shivang is a hardcore field professional, a photographer who can survive in any condition. He is so focussed on his projects that he doesn’t bother about the finer aspects of logistics.
Shivang Mehta: That’s where Kahini has been a pillar—ensuring our work is planned properly. Her organisational strength and foresightedness in logistical planning make our fieldwork possible.
T+L India: How has your partnership evolved over the years?
Kahini: A lot has changed in 15 years. I was an active field resource for nearly a decade, and then we had our daughter Shreyovi. It was a conscious decision that she needed more time, so I started handling the backend operations. Nature Wanderers is still the priority, but there are more responsibilities now. I’m no longer the free wild bird I used to be.
Shivang Mehta: That has added more pressure on my travels. I have to be on the field for nearly 250-300 days in a year. Being in remote locations, not being able to communicate with the family, not seeing the growth of your child—it can make you feel low, but I have to pick myself up as this is a life I chose for myself. And I love my job!
T+L India: Where was your most memorable couple trip? Any place you’d love to explore?
Kahini: Our first solo trip to Ladakh in 2006—that was the year we did the Valley of Flowers expedition as well. We had great fun scouting Sri Lanka, which was a leopard-centred plan but we ended up seeing a blue whale as well.
Shivang Mehta: We would like to explore remote Africa more.