Wildlife docu filmmaker Sasidhar Vempala narrates human-elephant conflict on screen
Did you know that the tiger, apart from being our National animal also symbolises the ecological security of the country? Were you aware that tiger reserve forests feed 600 rivers and elephants are the gardeners of those forests?
We need the tiger to save our forests and without the tiger, there is no protection to the vegetation as humans have entered it and exploited it beyond repair. And with no tiger to protect the forest, the elephants have no forests to create and maintain. The result has been fragmented forests and these fragmented forests have left our elephants as refugees.
Living with Elephants, a narrative by renowned wildlife conservation documentary filmmaker Sashidhar Vempala is the narrative of the imperative doom awaiting us in case we keep on being immune to the plight of these wild animals. This movie has already been screened at various international film festivals including the Lift-off session at Pinewood London and has been the official selection at Dada Saheb Phalke International Film Festival 2019.
"For centuries, elephants have been and still are our keystone species and play a pivotal role in creating and maintaining forest ecosystems. The disappearance of the forests that these elephants once roamed freely has resulted in severe conflicts with humans. On the onset of Global Tiger Day, it is imperative that we understand the importance of the tiger and other keystone species and the role each one plays in the ecosystem. Not only that, since we are at a conflict crisis, it is also important to understand the value of coexistence as that is the only alternative left for us before we lose all our vital species," tells Joydip Kundu, secretary of SHER (Society for Heritage and Ecological Research).
Kundu elaborates that coexistence can happen only if we understand the on-ground reality, the difficulties faced by all the people, the forest department and the elephants so that solutions can be effectively implemented for us to survive peacefully and sustainably. "One of our stories aims at creating awareness about the same. In the forested parts of Bengal’s West Medinipur district, man is at a constant face-off with one of the world’s largest mammal, the elephant. Every day there is a fight for survival," explains Kundu.
He further elaborates that for centuries, elephants have roamed free in this forest of South West Bengal, which has no natural corridor, and have passed on their knowledge of the routes to their young ones. But their very-known routes are now farming lands, which are a source of livelihood for the people living in adjacent villages. "Livelihood for the humans and food for the elephants, that’s the core of the ensuing battle between both, often culminating in deaths," Kundu adds. As herds are chased away, they raid fields, crops, houses, and granaries for food and it is a mammoth task for the forest department to mitigate and manage this conflict, with nearly no resources at hand.
The film, which is being made to sensitise the urban audience to this plight is the first of its kind on this human-elephant conflict. Vempala is the scriptwriter and director of this film presented by SHER and the Guardbook Conservation Foundation.
The first public screening of the film will be held at the St.Joseph’s College hall (Bowbazar) on July 24 from 5 pm onwards