Lawrence Bruce Kekule, an American by birth, has lived in Thailand for more than four decades.

Bruce has photographed Thailand’s wild creatures and habitats for 15 years. He has travelled all over the country on a photographic odyssey portraying the natural world. Bruce’s passion for the Kingdom and its wildlife, and his mission to show the world this beauty, will surely create awareness amongst the present generation that action is needed now to save Thailand’s wild places and animals for the future.

Chasing a Wild Dream

He published his first book Wildlife in the Kingdom of Thailand in 1999. His second book entitled Thailand’s Natural Heritage was published in 2004 and Wild Rivers, his third, was completed in 2008. He has also written many newspaper and magazine articles about wildlife. Born in the United States, he has lived in Thailand since 1964. His dream to produce wildlife photographic books continues.

Kekule is married to a Thai national and they live in Bangkok with their daughter, son-in-law and two grand daughters. His main objective is to educate the Thai people about their natural heritage before it is too late. A second objective is to help the park rangers who patrol the forests with food, clothing and equipment to create incentive among these men who put their lives on the line for the Kingdom’s forest and wildlife.

The Taj Mahal – One of 7-Wonders in the World

Thursday, April 19, 2018
posted by Bruce 4:23 PM

A Fairy Tale Ending in a bad dream…!

Side view of the Taj Mahal at sunrise – my favorite shot on this trip…!

Since 2013, I have visited India every year primarily to the ‘tiger reserves’. I now have 50 tigers in my files. In 2018 this year, I arrived in Delhi on Feb. 18th and went straight up to Corbett with my Indian agent ‘Anu Marwah’ and we spent the next 7 days touring around looking for tigers. I ended up getting four tigers on this trip. I also visited a private reserve named Vanghat situated on the Ramnagar River. I managed to set 5 camera traps up on the ridge-line overlooking the resort. I got a tiger crossing in front of a video camera during the morning hours in beautiful light. I also lost one of the traps to a tusker elephant that left it in pieces.

From there I went to the Chambal River and got some good gharial and mugger croc shots. After that, it was to Kanha and Bandavgarh tiger reserves where I got five tigers (two in Kanha and three in Bandhavgarh). All I can say is: Kanha is now very nice to visit with new restrictions set in place by the park’s director and staff, and it was an absolute joy visiting. I got some really nice tiger shots. I recommend anyone wanting to see and photograph tigers: visit Kanha. You will be pleased as it is the best run tiger reserve and national park in the country.

However, Bandhavgarh is a horse of another color. When a tiger is seen, the screaming and shouting that goes on between the drives jockeying for position is the worst I have seen in India. I got three tigers but Anu’s driver was one of the main culprits and I had to hold on for dear life. I had one heck of time staying in the jeep as he raced all over the place screaming at everyone to get out of his way. My agent/guide was not there that day to see this fiasco that goes on all the time in Bandhavgarh. The Forest Department here should be ashamed of themselves for letting this develop, and this is played out everyday and needs immediate attention.

Front view of the Taj Mahal in the early morning…!

Anu decided that she would not stay with me and then complained she had a sore back, and then abandoned me the next day. The only problem I have with this (I am a big boy and can take care of myself in tiger country) is she went back to Delhi and then straight down to Tadoba Tiger Reserve to go out hunting tigers with a rich Indian client on my money. Both of them managed to get small cubs and a mother, and I think her sore back must have gone away as she posted her trip on Facebook a couple of days later. She charged me an arm and a leg for this trip and I really started to loose my respect for her then.

My final destination this year was the Taj Mahal with my wife Noi, from Thailand. The 17th Century mausoleum attracts about 12,000 visitors a day and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. India’s official recorded history says that the Muslim Mughal ruler Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal in memory of his third Queen, Mumtaj Mahal in 1643.

We wanted to visit this place together that should be on everyone’s bucket list. It is one of the seven great wonders of the world and seeing this amazing monument is inspirational. I told Anu that my wife broke her leg several years ago and had a walking problem. I asked her if she could get a wheelchair for Noi who is 74 this year. I however overlooked asking her about the wheelchair and a dedicated honest guide to take us into the Tag as we left Delhi. That was the most serious mistake that I have ever made with her so far. She should have provided both of these services for us but she let us down by skimming money off the large extra payment we gave her for this last trip.

Me and Noi at the Royal Gate to the Taj Mahal…!

So when we got to the car park the next morning which is 1 ½ kilometers from the main gate, we were surrounded by a group of local vultures that prey on unsuspecting tourists like me and my wife. We finally agreed on a guide and a wheelchair. He was a smooth-talking self-appointed guide and I had my reservations but we went in anyway not wanting to bother too much about anything. We just wanted to see the Taj and surrounding areas. We went around and the wheelchair did come in real handy for Noi.

I came back the next day and I asked if he could get me through the gate again. We agreed on a price. I had my Nikon D4s and my D700 secondary camera with two different lenses attached and another beautiful U.S. $1,400 Zeiss 28mm lens for Nikon in my vest pocket. As I entered the security gate, the lens was lifted from my view and disappeared (stolen). When I went for it to actually photograph the Taj, it was no where to be found, and that was that. I left this so-called holy place with a bad taste in my mouth and swore that this was my last visit to India. The final straw was Anu also refused to call us before we left to say thank you and/or goodbye after we paid her a lot of money. She could not be bothered. And the spirits of the forest know that I speak the truth.

Some of you who are friends with Anu Marwah may not like what I have to say here and may take offence, but the Facebook ‘defriend’ option is right there and that’s fine with me. I have known her since 2014 when she was partnered with one Jason Fernandes from Mumbai running a wildlife photography tour agent company named ‘Wilderness Uncut’. He was the most famous ‘smoker’ awhile back to ever light-up a cigarette in a national park in India that went completely viral. He also did a number on me when he was with Anu promising the world and not delivering. Anu also smokes cigarettes in the tiger reserves, usually at a rest stop where she hides, and has most of the guards in her pocket.

This is what happens in India when you believe in people that are actually dishonest agents with bad intentions and services, and eventually they take advantage of you. There maybe some good ones out there but it will be extremely difficult for me to believe in any of them. I apologize to all my good friends in India and they know who they are. I rest my case and this will be the last time I will talk about a crooked Indian guide service. But you have been warned and should share this with as many people as possible so that others don’t get ripped off by these two non-professionals…!!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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