Foresters’ film captures poachers’ transition

Momentous event of 2004 portrayed

In 2004, the Forest Department’s efforts had resulted in 23 wildlife poachers and sandalwood smugglers laying down their guns and joining hands with the officials in conserving the Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) in Thekkady. The momentous chapter, which remains unmatched elsewhere in the country, has now been adapted into a short film, titled Vidiyal, with a bunch of forest officials tapping their creative selves.

Helming the project is Divisional Forest Officer Raju K. Francis of the Ernakulam Forest Flying Squad, who along with the then PTR Deputy Director and currently Chief Conservator of Forests Pramod G. Krishnan had led the ‘Cheetah’ squad that apprehended the poachers.

With the assistance of the Tamil Nadu police, the team had caught the armed group, after months of futile attempts, from their hideout near a cave in Tamil Nadu where they used to hide the smuggled sandalwood. Following the arrests, they approached Mr. Francis and offered to surrender their arms in return for respectable jobs.

“They did not require a prison to reform themselves. Even after 15 years, 17 among the group continue to serve the department by becoming active members of participatory forest conservation programme in the PTR. They have now part of the Vidiyal Vanapathukappu Sangam (or Vidiyal, which stands for new dawn), an eco-development committee (EDC),” the officer said.

At ₹2.25 lakh

The 21-minute docu-fiction was formally launched by the Head of Forest Force P.K. Kesavan at a screening at the headquarters of the Forest Department on Monday. Despite being made by the Periyar Foundation on a modest budget of ₹2.25 lakh, the short film scores high on production values with support from Collective Phase One, co-founded by filmmaker Rajeev Ravi.

Most of the cast comprises forest officials and some members of the ‘Vidiyal’ EDC. The technical crew includes Umasankar (director of photography), Rinju R.V. (editor), Arjun Menon (colourist), Prasanth S.P. (sound designer), Akhil Hari (sync sound recordist) and Dawn Vincent (background score).

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 9:20:42 AM |

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