Friday, June 08, 2007

Closer look at wildlife crime

Madhur Tankha

REAL THREAT: A still from `Turtles in a Soup'.

NEW DELHI: The British High Commission will screen seven short documentaries on wildlife crime at its premises here this Tuesday to mark World Environment Day.

On the same day last year, the High Commission had announced seven fellowships under the UK Environment Film Fellowships to make documentaries on endangered species. These films are now ready to be shown to wildlife lovers. The special preview of the films is on bears, butterflies, elephants, leopards, marine corals, tigers and turtles. Under the law, the Indian sloth bear is entitled to the same protection as the tiger. Yet crimes against it are committed openly across the country as bears are made to dance. To show how this crime can be brought to an end, filmmaker Ashima Narain has made "The Last Dance". In the film, the filmmaker undertakes an undercover operation and witnesses the surrender of a dancing bear.

According to wildlife experts, tiger has the best chance to survival in India but even here its future looks most uncertain than ever before. "The Hunted" made by Jay Mazoomdaar seeks hope for curbing the tiger trade by offering the tribal hunters a new way of life.

The diversity of freshwater turtle species in the country is one of the richest in the world. However, today most of them are heading towards extinction. Kalpana Subramanian's "Turtles in a Soup" is the untold story of the illegal trade of freshwater turtles.

The elephant has been revered in India for centuries. Yet the survival of the elephant is under threat today for a variety of reasons. Film "The Silenced Witness" by the Wildscreen award winning directorial team -- Radha.R and P.Balan -- highlight the reasons why the elephant is increasing facing threat.

Today the coral reefs are under major threat. A motivational film "Diminishing Resources" by Himanshu Malhotra seeks to sensitise the audiences to these invisible crimes.Focusing on the crimes against butterflies is Sonia Kapoor's film "Once there was a Purple Butterfly". The disappearance of these pollinators could affect all life forms on earth, including man.

Gurmeet Sapal's "Leopards in the Lurch" captures the beauty and their threatened existence in the Himalayas.


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