Focus on nature: Nat’l Geographic filmmaker to present Thursday, Friday

National Geographic Explorer and filmmaker Sandesh Kadur, a graduate of University of Texas at Brownsville-Texas Southmost College, is shown filming for an upcoming BBC television series, "Seven Worlds, One Planet," to be released this fall. (Courtesy photo)

Sandesh Kadur, passionate conservationist, award-winning filmmaker, National Geographic Explorer and University of Texas at Brownsville-Texas Southmost College graduate will deliver a pair of presentations this week in Brownsville and Port Isabel.

The first is scheduled for Sept. 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the Barbara T. Warburton Education Building at Sabal Palm Sanctuary, 8435 Sabal Palm Rd., in Brownsville. The second presentation takes place on Sept. 13 at 5:30 p.m. at the Port Isabel Event Center, 309 Railroad Ave., in Port Isabel. The events are sponsored by the Gorgas Science Foundation and the University of Texas School of Earth, Environmental and Marine Sciences, respectively. Both presentations are free and open to the public.

In 2017 Kadur won the British Academy of Film and Television Arts award for factual photography for his work on BBC’s “Planet Earth II” documentary, and was also nominated for an Emmy for outstanding cinematography for the same documentary. He received a UTB-TSC Distinguished Alumni Award the same year. Kadur graduated with the university with a bachelor’s of science degree in wildlife biology in 2001. He is an associate fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers, sits on the board of the International Association of Wildlife Filmmakers, and is a member of Filmmakers for Conservation.

Kadur founded Felis Creations, a Bangalore, India-based media and visual arts company that focuses on creating content that inspires conservation.

The many honors he’s racked up during his career include the Vision Award from the North American Nature Photographers Association and the Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rise Award for wildlife photography, both in 2013, and the International Conservation Photography Award in the “Community at Risk” category in 2010. In 2008, Kadur won the CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year in the “Natural World” division. His work “Secrets of Wild India: Elephant Kingdom” won Best Television Series at the International Wildlife Film Festival in 2012.

Interviewed by phone Tuesday, Kadur credited Larry Lof, head of the Gorgas Science Foundation, for starting him on the path to a successful career as a conservation photographer and filmmaker. As a member of the Gorgas Science Society, the student chapter of the GSF, Kadur made several trips to the Rancho del Cielo field station in the mountain cloud forests of Mexico, which reminded him of the Western Ghats, or Sahyadris, mountain range in southern India where he grew up. Kadur discussed with Lof the parallels between the two places, which Kadur describes as “biodiversity hot spots.”

From such conversations was hatched a plan for a summer-long GSF film project on the Western Ghats. Kadur would apprentice under John Bax, a veteran filmmaker who had already done documentaries with GSF. A week before they were to depart for India, Bax called Kadur to say he wouldn’t be able to make the trip after all.

“I thought that was the end of my filmmaking career,” Kadur said.

Lof, however, asked the 20-year-old student if he wanted to do it on his own, and if so, what equipment would he need. Kadur, an utter novice, guessed that a camera and tripod would be required at the very least.

“He said go ahead and get it,” Kadur recalled. “Ten thousand dollars he put on his personal credit card and sent me off on this wild journey.”

The project, which stretched to three years rather than three months, resulted in the successful documentary “Sahyadris: Mountains of the Monsoon,” narrated by UTB President Juliet Garcia. Kadur’s most recent project is the television series “Seven Worlds, One Planet,” which BBC will release this fall.

“It was definitely not something I had planned for,” Kadur said of his career. “It was something of course I had wanted to do. And making documentaries on wildlife, that was like a dream, to achieve a task where there is no direct path to it. It’s like someone saying, ‘I want to become an astronaut.’ Wildlife filmmaking is one of those moving targets.’”