Day One with Riaz Cader

Day One with RIAZ CADER : Born and raised in Colombo, I was always interested and fascinated by wildlife as long as I can remember. As a child, I had an enviable collection of toy animals and children’s publications on wildlife, outings to zoos and safari parks both in Sri Lanka and overseas.

An annual treat was getting up close to the elephants each year in February at Viharamahadevi Park in Colombo at the onset of the Nawam Perahara!

I was at Royal College for nine years and then at Elizabeth Moir School for my O Levels and A Levels. Exams, tuition classes, sports and extra-curricular activities meant that my outings to the jungles were limited to once or twice a year strictly during the school holidays.

Growing up when the island’s civil war kept escalating meant that at one time or another quite a large part of the country was out of bounds for lengthy periods. Wilpattu National Park for example, the country’s largest and once-most-popular spot for watching leopards in the wild and a place I had always longed to visit was out of bounds from the 1980s up until 2009, apart from a brief ceasefire period from 2003 – 2005 when it re-opened.

I attended every single wildlife lecture and exhibition that I heard of  (photographers such as Rukshan Jayawardene, Lal Anthonis are well-known names I recall) and was an avid viewer of natural history documentaries through Animal Planet, Discovery Chanel and National Greographic.

One of my earliest influences was my uncle, Akram Cassim who is a wildlife enthusiast and visited Uda Walawe and Yala National Parks on a regular basis. I would always look eagerly at his photo albums from his most recent expeditions, and while I enjoyed looking through his wildlife images, I longed for the means to be able to travel around so freely and take such images.

I had used basic film cameras and point and shoot digital cameras growing up, however always felt frustrated about not being able to get close-up images of the wildlife. At the age of sixteen (around 2001), I had saved up just about enough to buy myself a Nikon film SLR with a 70-300mm lens and was able to get my first fairly decent set of images of elephants, a variety of bird and animal species and my first clear shot of a wild leopard in Yala from August 2003, which to this date remains a personal highlight.

Catch up on Introduction to Riaz Cader.


Riaz Cader is Assistant Manager – Nature & Community Projects at Jetwing Hotels and on and off-the-job continues to visit Sri Lanka’s wild places to pursue his passion of wildlife photography. Riaz is a self-trained photographer and uses a Canon EOS 7D body predominantly with a Canon 100-400mmL series lens for wildlife images along with a Canon 24-105mm L series lens and Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lenses for landscapes and portraits.

Riaz Cader can be found on facebook and  flickr 

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