Let the forest breathe for Bengaluru

A film made by a Bengaluru couple hopes to sensitise people on the need to preserve a vital lung space like the Bannerghatta National Park

While most of us in Bengaluru are familiar with the Bannerghatta Biological Park or simply the Bannerghatta Zoo as we most commonly refer to it, there’s a whole wide wild world behind it that comprises the Bannerghatta National Park that we tend to forget, except when blaming it for wild elephants that come visiting into the city.

As a gentle reminder of this vast lung space that co-exists with the urban sprawl of Bengaluru, specially in the surrounding areas around the fast-developing Bannerghatta Road, a Bengaluru-based conservationst-photographer couple has made a film commissioned by the Karnataka Forest Department -- Bannerghatta Breathing for Bangalore.

Ashok Hallur and Padma Ashok, who run the NGO Save Tiger First, recall how Sunil Panwar, Deputy Conservator of Forest-Bannerghatta National Park sparked the idea of the film when on a visit to the park. They shot in the park for six months to complete the film.

Ashok Hallur, a professional photographer for 25 years with a passion for wildlife conservation and Padma Ashok, a marketing professional with a penchant for conservation, together run i4c - Ideas for Change, a film production house, that has been making films with a conservation message.

“Anyone living on Bannerghatta Road will surely have faced scarcity of water. Every one in Bengaluru is feeling the kind of changes in temperature. Mango trees are flowering again this November! There are so many indications from Nature that things are changing -- climate change is for real. We need to preserve what little we have,” says Pamda.

“Saving a forest is not just the duty of the forest department alone. It’s everyone’s responsibility,” stresses Ashok.

Visual communication is always an ice-breaker for further threads of conversations, says Padma. “And that’s what we hope this film will do,” says Padma, of the purpose of the film. Declared a National Park in 1974, over time, the Park has been stripped of large tracts of forest cover with deforestation, granite and sand mining, and with urban expansion, points out Ashok.

Encroachments have meant that animals have been seen more often amidst human settlements around the Park. The film talks about how the biodiversity distress, soil degradation, hydrological imbalances have had a direct or indirect bearing on our living conditions in Bengaluru today, including the quality of air we breathe, the underground water levels in the city etc.

The film also looks at the recent efforts over teh last decade made by the Karnataka Forest Department, various NGOs, environmentalists and researchers, to conserve the forest and prevent and manage elephant-human conflict in the area. The latest measure -- the building of a thick, solid barrier using old railway lines to keep elephants away! A new Wildlife Range - the Kodihalli Range -- has been added recently to the Park, increased its area from 110 square kilometres to close to 270 square kilometres.

Ashok and Padma hope to host public screenings of the film before putting the film online.

“We are also in the process of making a Kannada version of the film which we want to take to villages and schools around the National Park to sensitise them to issues of the forest,” adds Padma. “We have tied up with the Forest Department to conduct ‘one with nature’ workshops, butterfly walks, and are also doing a wildlife research project ‘Vultures on the edge’ along with film,” adds Ashok.

“The Park helps in compensating the carbon dioxide emissions of Bengaluru. Through the film we want to stress that only if there is Bannerghatta will there be a Bengaluru,” concludes Ashok.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 2:43:17 AM |

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