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Pursuit of Happiness

Walk on the wild side
'Tiger' Ramesh learnt some lessons on life from animal instincts 

Kripa Mahalingam

He’s very aptly nicknamed. TG Ramesh may have got his moniker ‘Tiger’ because of the initials of his name (TGR), but he’s also a wildlife enthusiast who set up a chain of ecotourism resorts and has now started a photography club at CSS Corp, the San Jose-headquartered IT company he heads.

The passion started during a drive from Bangalore to Ooty in 1994. Ramesh and his wife had just crossed the Bandipur forest and were climbing up the narrow Masinagudi route when a herd of elephants crossed their path. He stepped out to take some shots but the elephants resented the attention and came charging towards the tiny Maruti 800. Much later, Ramesh found out that it was a mock charge but, by then, he was already hooked. “The adrenaline rush when the elephants came charging at us was a whole new experience for me,” Ramesh recalls.

A trip to Kabini and the Nagarhole National Park in Karnataka the following year saw Ramesh spend his waking hours in the watch tower. “I would go in the morning with my two cameras and come back in the evening. You can learn so much from wildlife,” he says. Stuff like leadership qualities, assigning roles and responsibilities for a task and getting it accomplished properly — all of which he learnt from observing wild dogs.

“Wild dogs live in packs and when they hunt, they clearly assign roles. The leader tells his team from which direction they should come and surround the prey. Then he takes charge and goes in for the kill while the others support him.”

Then there’s his favourite animal — no surprises here, it’s the tiger. “There is nothing better than seeing a tiger in the wild. It is fascinating to watch them hunt,” says Ramesh, who had to wait till 2000 to spot his first tiger at Nagarhole. And if there’s something he’s imbibed from the big cats, it is aggression.

The frequent trips to Nagarhole and Kabini led Ramesh to start the Cicada chain of ecotourism resorts in 2005. Over the next couple of years, he set up upscale resorts at Kabini and Bandipur and had started work on two more when he decided to sell out. “Constant court cases with NGOs and government agencies made it very difficult to continue in that business,” says Ramesh, who eventually sold Cicada to Café Coffee Day in 2008.

The serial entrepreneur — apart from Cicada, he has also set up IT start-ups like Bangalore Labs and Quintant Services — still finds time to walk on the wild side. National parks in India aside, Ramesh is obviously passionate about wildlife in Africa. He headed there again this year, his third trip in four years. He has been to Serengeti National Park in Tanzania which has the largest population of lions in Africa and Amboseli National Park in Kenya which according to him is the best place to be close to free-ranging elephants. Ramesh says being with animals is easier. “People can be more dangerous. With animals what you see is what you get. You only have to be careful not to violate their space.”

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