K. Ramnath Chandrasekhar is a Natural History Storyteller, Conservation Educator, and 2022 National Geographic Explorer from India. He uses multimedia storytelling and experience-based learning to encourage empathy and action among students and youth for our planet’s natural heritage. Chandrasekhar’s fascination with nature began at 13 when he explored scrub jungles around his hometown of Pudukkottai. This led to photography and filmmaking and, eventually, to conservation education. He was shortlisted for the inaugural Rolex Young Laureates Programme, recognized by the Tamil Nadu State Department, and awarded an international scholarship to pursue the Asia Pacific Leadership Program (APLP) Fellowship at the East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii. During the last 14 years, Chandrasekhar has been crisscrossing India capturing the wonders and woes of nature, from king cobras on the rainforest floor to disappearing frogs in the canopy, from the mass migration of amur falcons to melting glaciers in the Himalayas. At the same time, he has been convening outreach and education programs, teaching ecology and conservation to about 50,000 students in 250 schools across Tamil Nadu, India, using nature and conservation films. He has mentored 55 primary and middle school students to explore the environment and write and publish children’s storybooks about the natural world around them. Chandrasekhar has co-authored a coffee table book named ‘Ganga – More than a river’ about the journey of the River Ganges from its source to sea. He has edited conservation documentaries such as The Race to Save the Amur Falcon, India’s Disappearing Beaches, and Making Room for Nature. Fujifilm shortlisted him as one of the six photographers from India for their ‘Fuji Super Six’ exhibition, which allowed him to showcase his photographic work in major cities across India. Chandrasekhar envisions a world with a nature educator in every school and community. He is on the board of Trust for Environmental Education (TREE), a public charitable Trust founded in 1986 by Govind Swaminathan, one of the legal luminaries of India, Sriram Panchu, a senior advocate, and acclaimed wildlife filmmaker Shekar Dattatri. Chandrasekhar and his partner Rachita Sinha co-founded a volunteer-led non-profit initiative called Youth Conservation Action Network (YouCAN). Through TREE and YouCAN, they implement short-term and long-term educational programs for school students, youth, and teachers that inspires, empowers, and nurtures them to become environmentalists in their own right. They live in the mountain town of Coonoor, in the Nilgiris, India, along with their dog, Ripple.
Visual storyteller | Educator | Chief Operating Officer, Youth Conservation Action Network