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Animals in the wild From the documentary
Animals in the wild From the documentary

The documentary screened for World Forest Day gives a peep into wildlife in their natural habitat

Though it was a holiday, the auditorium was packed. May be, the crowd had a hunch that an exceptional documentary was in store for them that morning.

As part of the World Forest Day, Osai, an environmental organisation, and Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, screened Shekar Dattatri’s Nagarhole: Tales from an Indian Jungle,a documentary on the forest in Karnataka.

Changing seasons

It captures the wildlife as the seasons change. It opens on a foggy morning that soon changes into a hot afternoon.

A tiger moving with cunning grace has found food: a humongous gaur that it shares reluctantly with vultures. Elsewhere, blissfully unaware gaurs tend to their young ones. But it is not half as cute as the mommy elephant admonishing her naughty little child.

In a few months, it’s raining! A green forest drenched in a drizzle is always beautiful. Wild boars taking a saunter with their litter complete the picture. What is a rain without a peacock? One dances, flaunting its resplendent plumage. Fireflies come out of anthills for a shower, but end up between the beaks of wicked mynas, jungle fowls and peacocks. Gibbering simians prance about happily.

After rain comes plenty of water and food. Grass grows, as does the deer, and carnivores have a field day. It breaks your heart to see a spotted deer waging a losing battle to two wily wild dogs. But then, that’s how Nature works.

Soon, it’s difficult times: the dry lands. Elephants move about in search of water, and it’s a question of the survival of the fittest. While many may live to tell the tale, a few may not. A poignant story is that of the cow elephant that has lost one of her eyes, and is on the verge of losing her calf too… However, seasons are meant to change, and after a few months of struggle there’s sun above the horizon and sunshine in their lives.

Dattatri says the documentary took 18 months of work, between five in the morning and seven in the evening every day. Surprisingly, it was just a three-member team behind all the shoots: Dattatri, a cameraman and a driver.

Lucid narration

For ears reared on English narration on television channels, the lucid words in Tamil are refreshingly fresh. Add to this Dattatri’s steadfast belief that God is in the details, and you have all the ingredients to keep you engrossed for an hour. The documentary is peppered with plenty of fascinating facts throughout.

Did you know that young ones of the wild boar are actually striped?

Or that the tiger can attack a prey ten times heavier or that an adult elephant requires 200 kg of food a day?

The one lesson that the documentary teaches you is that the animals are happy till there’s human interference.

One person in the audience suggested that we address animals with dignity. They should be called ‘animals in the wild’, and not ‘wild animals’. How right!

W. SREELAITHA

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