By Shruti Shreya:
We all get enthralled by the superbly fast cheetah clocking 120 kmph on our favorite wildlife show on Discovery and NatGeo, but more often than not we fail to admire the artistry and panache with which these wildlife films are and have been being made for decades, by famous nature filmmakers like David Attenborough and Jacques Cousteau.
But these environmental filmmakers do more than just show the beauty of nature. They are called conservation film-makers because they use the aesthetics of nature to convey a subtle environmental message and hope that when viewers watch and admire these films, they will be taken over with a sense of protection and conservation.
One of the biggest names in the Indian wildlife scenario is that of Mike Pandey, with 300 national and international awards to his credit. Being born in Kenya, right next to the Nairobi National Park, proved to be a rich source of inspiration and made him the world-class wildlife videographer that he is today. The man, whom Time Magazine put up at third place in its list “Heroes of the Environment” in 2009, has produced films like Shores of Silence, The Last Migration, Broken Wings and The Timeless Traveller that have actually made a direct impact for legal actions to be taken towards the protection of species like whale sharks, elephants, vultures and horse-shoe crabs.
However, much like the dark unseen side of the glistening moon, despite the good intentions of these nature crusaders, there is a dark side to this profession as well. One such notable wildlife videographer, Chris Palmer, has talked about the other side of the camera in his book “Shooting in the Wild” wherein he has exposed many “dirty secrets” of nature documentaries like filmmakers using trained animals, dragging dead animal carcasses to locations, digging fake dens, lying in the narration and one notable (award winning) case actually showcasing lemming suicides by mechanically pushing the poor creatures off a cliff using a rotating platform set up.
While these malpractices in the wildlife profession fail to get noticed by the layman, sometimes the experts themselves, and actually end up achieving the targeted results, the biggest concern however is whether the goodness achieved through these fake videos actually justify the crimes film-makers commit against the nature? Are we allowed to spill a little blood for the greater good and let it pass by calling it collateral damage?