Life & Style

A six-part docuseries ‘Wild You Were Sleeping’ showcases some of India’s most fascinating wild species 

Hoolock Gibbon

Hoolock Gibbon | Photo Credit: Kashish Madan

In Assam, near the Hoollongapar Wildlife Sanctuary, the western hoolock gibbons, the only apes that live in the Indian sub-continent, are surviving in fragmented forest patches and agricultural fields. Their shrinking habitat of evergreen forests poses a threat to their very existence.

In an effort to bring attention to India’s lesser-known species and habitats, and build a conservation mindset, The Habitats Trust has launched Wild You Were Sleeping, a six-part original docuseries featuring stories of some of India’s most fascinating wild species. The seven to nine-minute episodes, streamed every Friday at 11 am on their website as well as social media channels including Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, feature the species that live in close proximity to humans but are not understood, often leading to conflict.

Striped Hyena

Striped Hyena | Photo Credit: Kalyan Varma

Co-produced by documentary film company, Trippintoe Media, the series turns the spotlight on the Malabar pit-viper, striped hyena, desert fox, greater adjutant stork, smooth-coated otters, and hoolock gibbons. The episode on May 20 features the gibbons while in the following week, striped hyenas that scavenge on carcasses to keep the ecosystem disease-free and healthy, will be highlighted. Sadly, they are sometimes considered vermin by the general public. Their natural habitats that include grasslands, dry scrub and rocky outcrops are fast disappearing due to expanding urban spaces and infrastructure development.

The films, while scientific in approach, present the stories creatively to not only elicit empathy for the animals but enhance a conservationist ethos amongst the general population.

Says Rushikesh Chavan, head of The Habitats Trust that engages strategic partnerships and sustainable on-ground efforts for conservation awareness, “India harbours over 92,000 species of which more than 400 species are mammals and 1300- plus bird species; quite a few of these are found only in our country. Some of these rare species are at the risk of local extinction due to many human-induced threats and lack of protection efforts. .”

Dispelling myths

The visually-appealing docuseries allows the viewer a holistic understanding of the species. Chavan says the series covers species that are limited to specific regions, as well as the ones like otters and hyenas that are fairly widespread making the narrative relevant to the rest of the country. Species like malabar pit-viper, a venomous snake species distributed across the Western Ghats, he says, are highly misunderstood.

“It is a unique, fascinating species that shows ‘polymorphism’ (is found in multiple colours), and appears during the monsoon season. It’s bite, while not fatal, can leave people unable to work for a few days, unfortunately often leading to the snake being killed when spotted. There is a need for more studies as well as efforts for snakebite mitigation to ensure peaceful coexistence between humans and this reptile.”

One of the episodes is on the greater adjutant stork, a rarest stork species in the world, found breeding only in India and Cambodia. The endangered bird, with only 800 to 1200 individuals remaining worldwide, are threatened due to the steady decline of their wetland habitats, because of pollution and rapid urbanisation. In India, a third of their population survives in garbage dumps on the outskirts of Guwahati, Assam. Similarly, the population of smooth-coated otters, distributed in freshwater habitats across India (including Goa, Maharashtra, Karnataka and many other states), are declining due to loss of habitat.

Adds Chavan, “ These conservation initiatives need a wider audience and higher on-ground engagement. The Habitats Trust through its various programmes have supported the conservation of over 14 species. We hope that this series will build curiosity among the viewers and eventually lead them to conservation.”

The series is freely available for anyone to watch on the social media handles of The Habitats Trust


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Printable version | May 21, 2022 8:10:54 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/a-six-part-docuseries-wild-you-were-sleeping-showcases-some-of-indias-most-fascinating-wild-species/article65419067.ece