Today we had a visit from a very important contributor, Mr. Vijaykumar Thondaman, the generous gentleman whose remarkable photography skills and passion for wildlife have furnished us with the ever-popular “Bird of the Day” series.
Sipping tea and chatting with Vijaykumar was not only an honor (in addition to being an accomplished wildlife photographer and naturalist, he is the nephew of the Late His Highness Raja Rajagopala Thondaman, the ninth and last ruler of the erstwhile Pudukottai State), but it was also an educational exploration of the feathered fauna of southern India. With a palpable passion for the subject, his ornithological knowledge is the consequence of a unique upbringing, as his father, Maharajkumar Radhakrishna Thondaman, maintained a mini zoo with blackbuck, sambar, chital, barking deer, four-horned antelope, foxes, crocodiles, pythons and wild and imported birds. More specific than his father’s captive collection was his small ornithological museum where Vijaykumar learned taxidermy at a young age. Vijaykumar grew up in the 100-acre campus of the New-Palace (the present Collectorate), which had a collection of rare trees and shrubs and wildly roaming peacocks, rabbits, partridges, quails, blackbucks and chitals, none of which exist there anymore. His love affair with wild-life, however, has been an indelible part of his life ever since. Continue reading