Sanctuaries in the country must be opened to wildlife filmmakers.
Documenting the woes of wildlife
"Sanctuaries in the country must be opened to wildlife filmmakers. This will stop the entry of poachers"
First an investigative journalist who became head of a satellite television group and then a wildlife director and filmmaker. Nutan Manmohan, who was in Chennai for a wildlife film festival, talks to P. Oppili.
Seen as one of the acclaimed wildlife filmmakers in India , Ms. Manmohan has produced more than 25 short films on wildlife conservation and a few on other environmental issues. Her films were screened in the Chennai festival.
"My journalistic career started in 1989 with TV Today. I was following crime stories, and what I have reported for the channel were all challenging assignments. Then, I got an opportunity to join the Star TV group, where I worked as Vice-President in-charge of the news content," she says.
That was when she got an opportunity to interact with the National Geographic Channel authorities, and it opened new vistas in her career. After that, her enthusiasm and passion for wildlife made her take up the work of a wildlife filmmaker.
In 1999, she made her first film on wildlife conservation. The film was about the Bisnois in Rajasthan. "That was a small story, and an exploration of a community that still followed the age-old tradition of respecting nature and the environment," says Ms. Manmohan.
Concern for Asiatic lions
Her next assignment was a film on Gir in Gujarat , the only home of Asiatic lions. She said the film talked about how the majestic animal, whose habitat spanned South-East Asia and the Middle East , was reduced to a small pocket now.
She says, "The fate of the Asiatic lions is hanging by a thread. The entire wild population of the lions has been confined to Gir Sanctuary, a 200 sq. km sanctuary, the smallest one in the country. One epidemic is sufficient to wipe out the entire population. The film talked in detail about relocation and other issues concerning the last of the surviving Asiatic lions found in the forests," she said
Her next film was on elephants. "The very mention of elephants brings [to mind] the picture of a gigantic mammal that has a long memory. Of late, there have been a lot of reports about elephants straying into human habitation. Why is this happening? What has led to this man-animal conflict? How to overcome this? These are some of the issues discussed in the film." She adds that she is planning to visit a few more places in the country to add inputs.
She says wherever eco-tourism projects are planned or implemented, the local community should be involved as a partner. They should play a role in conservation efforts and share the benefits.
On e-waste generated in the country, she says, "It is time we wake up to this serious issue."
Wildlife sanctuaries in the country must be opened to filmmakers. This will indirectly stop the entry of poachers into the forests. The State Governments should come out with more filmmaker-friendly policies. Only then can better documentation of our forests and wildlife be produced, she says.
She plans to make a film on individuals who have contributed to the conservation of species. She has even decided on the title — `Soldiers of Species'.