Why travel with us?
- Local operators with in-depth insights into the natural history and travel logistics of the
- Quality guiding by experienced, English speaking naturalists
- Small company with minimal overheads and value-for-money pricing
- Adherence to ecotourism and responsible travel criteria by:
- Limiting groups sizes to 4 to 6 persons on our tours
- Employing local people as support staff and choosing accommodations and travel
partners who do the same
- Choosing accommodations which use environmentally friendly technologies, where
- Providing clients with precise and updated information on local conditions (weather,
political, health) as relevant to their travel plans
Ficus was founded and is operated by Chennai-based natural history addicts, Ganesh KR & Ravi Kailas. Our aim is to provide quality, hassle-free and responsible natural history travel experiences to India's fascinating natural locations. Along the way, we hope to inspire people to experience, appreciate and help protect India's natural heritage.
Ravi is a post-graduate in wildlife ecology & conservation from the University of Kent, UK and the University of Florida, USA. He has spent the last few years researching reptiles & mammals in the natural areas of the Western Ghats & central India.
He feels privileged for the adventures of travel & living that have been inevitably associated with wildlife work, also the opportunity it has provided him to get away from an increasingly stifling big city life of Chennai. Ravi has a very broad interest in natural history, which fortunately, is not 'pigeon-holed' by his academic pursuits as a biologist.
He has traveled extensively to natural areas & reserves throughout India and some parts of Africa & the USA.
Ganesh is an accomplished photographer and mountaineer. He is trained in advanced mountaineering and has been a resourceful team player in several expeditions to summit Himalayan peaks.
Both for a sense of adventure and to explore opportunities to photograph wildlife and natural areas, Ganesh has extensively trekked the lesser known mountain ranges of south India (Western and Eastern Ghats). His expertise in photography has enabled him to work on many documentation projects for the Government, NGO's and the publication industry. His keen interest in natural history has often been the only impetus for extensive travel to several natural reserves throughout India.
What's in a name!
The genus, ficus, contains hundreds of species of plants with a global distribution in the tropics and sub-tropics. Ficus, play an especially keystone role in tropical forests throughout the world - they are among the only plants that fruit unseasonably in otherwise seasonal forests. Consequently, they are the only source of perennial food for frugivorous birds, bats, primates and numerous other animals, in a forest seasonally devoid of fruits. Remove ficus from the tropical forest, and not only will the frugivorous fauna disappear, but all the fruiting plants, whose seeds are exclusively dispersed by the frugivores, will also disappear. This is a significant chunk of biodiversity in tropical forests, which reputedly contain upto half of the Earth's terrestrial biodiversity. Furthermore, this closely related community of frugivores and fruiting plants are not independent of the larger biotic community in these forests.
We live in an age of biotic extinctions. Scientists suggest that current species extinction rates are 10 to 100 times the Earth's background extinction rates over geological time. The enhanced rates of extinctions have been, largely, attributed to human activities, both due to the traditional problems of over-hunting and habitat conversion and lately due to factors such as pollution and global-warming. In these times, ficus are a symbol of the complex interactions in our natural world, that have evolved over millions of years to create and maintain the Earth's diverse ecosystems. Ficus are also a reminder of the fragility of biotic communities around us. We chose "Ficus" because we value biological diversity.