“Trust me, this spectacular film will steal your heart. The Anamalais — An Ecological Paradise of Tamil Nadu. On this World Wildlife Day let’s pledge to conserve our ecological heritage,” tweeted Supriya Sahu, Additional Chief Secretary Environment Climate Change & Forests, Government of Tamil Nadu, as she launched the film on World Wildlife Day (March 3).
The film on Anamalai Tiger Reserve, made by Pollachi Papyrus along with the Tamil Nadu Forest Department, is currently streaming on YouTube and Instagram. “We made a film that captures ATR in a nutshell,” says Pravin Shanmuganandan, editor of Pollachi Papyrus who has done the script and curation of the film.
A thriving bio-diversity hotspot, the ATR hosts a variety of pristine ecosystems and is home to several wild species. Drone shots in the film show some iconic species including the great hornbills, Lion Tailed Macaques (LTM), Nilgiri tahr, and purple frogs.
Last year in April, in a rare phenomenon, millions of fireflies illuminated the forests as they emitted light synchronously and moved between trees in the dense forest. “This footage was most challenging,” says award-winning wildlife photographer K A Dhanuparan who has done the cinematography for the film. “All the footages that feature in the film were captured over a period of three years,” he says adding that it was pitch dark in the forest and he could hear a tiger growl all through the filming. “We cannot use lights in the jungle and had no clue about the animals that were around us at the time. We saw an elephant just a few metres from us. It was risky, but unforgettable as it was a spectacular show by the fireflies.”
Along with the footage of the fireflies congregation, the film also showcases the rich diversity of habitats including rainforests, evergreen forests, dry deciduous, shola patches, scrub jungles and the riverine forest. A significant tiger reserve, the Anamalais has a thriving diversity of tree species, amphibians, birds, reptiles and mammals. Anaimalai also supports indigenous communities including Malasar, Malai Malasars, Kadars, Eravallars, Pulayars and Muduvar. The Kozhikamuthy Elephant Camp at ATR is one of the oldest elephant camps in the country. The mahouts are drawn Malasar tribal community.
Dhanuparan spent many hours inside the forest documenting the landscape inhabited by some of the iconic wild species. “I was lucky to get footage of a solitary leopard,” he says. However, it was the hornbills that took his breath away. “I spent over a month recording the behaviour of the great hornbill. On a lucky day, I could witness the casque butting behaviour where the bright, yellow-and-black birds perched on a tree took off and engaged in aerial jousting. We have to ensure that the species are not disturbed, even while using drone shots.”
The objective of the film is to bring in a sense of appreciation for this beautiful landscape in people who visit it. Adds Pravin, “We are also urging them to contribute in conserving it and be responsible tourists.”
The film is currently streaming on Pollachi Papyrus’ channel on YouTube. You can also watch it on Instagram @Pollachi Papyrus.