The Natural World In Motion: Homegrown Wildlife Documentaries On Our Radar

The global climate has been in decline for decades now. Natural calamities increasing in number and frequency are stark evidence of that. Countries around the world are facing the genuine threats of climate change. Take Pakistan for example; since June this year it has been drenched in rainfall and by August more than one-third of the country was under water according to their minister of climate change. The floods also followed an intense record-breaking heat wave in March, very similar to India, showing how tumultuous and unpredictable nature can get if not paid attention to. And climate change has constantly been ignored.

Humans aren’t the only ones facing the damage. Natural calamities permanently destroy the ecosystem and directly affect wildlife. Animals losing their habitat and more and more species getting endangered on a daily basis is truly tragic whether it be due to the killing of tigers, leopards, elephants and black bears killed in India, or the Human-wildlife conflict rising as the human population increases leaving few resources for the fauna

With the damage escalating, there also comes a need for social responsibility.

Consequently, a lot of filmmakers are taking the initiative to bring awareness to the pressing issue of diminishing wildlife.

Here is a list of 5 Documentaries from India that bring attention to the wildlife crisis and explore the effects of climate change on the different species within our landscapes:

I. On the brink.

This is a Docu-series on the various species of animals across India never before seen on television. Season 1 of the series features local conservationists, environmentalists, scientists, and biologists talking about the wildlife in their communities and the various methods they implement on protecting endangered species.

In season 2, explorer Malaika Vaz travels the sub-continent immersing herself in the remarkable landscapes and habitats in the country. She comes across some of the rarest animals that live here and delves into the strains caused by climate change on their lives.

The docu-series is directed by Akanksha Sood Singh who is a passionate natural history filmmaker. She has won three National Film Awards given by the President of India, a Wildscreen (Green Oscar) Nomination, a UN Film Award, a Nomination at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival and recently, the World’s Emerging Documentarian Award.

You can watch On the brink on Disney+Hotstar

II. The secret life of frogs

Directed by brothers Ajay and Vijay Bedi, this is a documentary on the ecosystem and lifestyle of frogs. It discusses a variety of species found in the western ghats and the threat of endangerment faced by certain species like the purple frog.

The filmmakers captured the fascinating story of these colorful amphibians over a span of 3 years deep in the rainforests of India. They beautifully filmed behavioral facts hitherto unknown to science, documenting for the first time the entire life cycle of the highly endangered, rare purple frog that emerges from the underground for just one day of the year to breed.

Ajay and Vijay Bedi are third-generation filmmakers in the family. They have not only contributed to the research community by writing a scientific paper that is still being used to study amphibians but also submitted a proposal to the state of Kerala for making the Purple Frog a state frog which would help boost its conservation.

The film was screened at Mumbai International Film Festival and Woodpecker International Film Festival. It got an Emmy nomination for Best Editing in a Documentary. It has also won the National Film Award for Best Non-Feature Film and the National Film Award for Best Non-Feature Film: Cinematography.

You can watch The secret life of frogs on Discovery+

III. The Jujurana’s Kingdom

This Documentary is a journey into the Kingdom of Jujurana, one of the most vulnerable pheasants on our planet, residing in the backdrop of extreme socio-political pressures exerted on a beautiful temperate and subalpine forest landscape. The red-faced, blue-wattled, horned male of the species is a gorgeous pheasant, mesmerizing the females with his breathtaking courtship dance. The documentary about the filmmaker’s journey into the kingdom of the Jujurana highlights what it takes to protect this species at a time when India is rapidly losing its biodiversity.

The filmmaker Munmun Dhalaria, is an independent filmmaker and National Geographic Storytelling Explorer, focused on wildlife conservation, gender and science communication.

The Jujurana’s Kingdom was adjudged as the Best Film: Mountain Wildlife at the 4th IMF Mountain Film Festival, in 2020.

You can watch this documentary on YouTube.

IV. Gaur in my garden

The documentary looks at human-animal interactions and conflicts arising in Kotagiri, Nilgiris – a key biodiversity hotspot in India, through the experiences of the residents of the Keystone Foundation Campus with the Gaur or the Indian Bison, a threatened and endangered species.

It’s directed by Rita Banerji who is a conservation filmmaker. Under her banner Dusty Foot Productions, she has produced several award-winning films, including a winner of the Green Oscar at Wildscreen, UK. In 2015, she founded The Green Hub – a youth and community-based fellowship for video documentation in the northeast of India, for work related to the environment and indigenous knowledge.

This documentary was screened at festivals in Kathmandu and Thiruvanathapuram

You can watch it here.

V. Wild Karnataka

This is a 1×60 blue chip natural history film produced by Icon Films and Mudskipper for the Karnataka Forest Department and ITV Global Entertainment. It documents the natural and wildlife history of Karnataka which is also the state with the highest number of tigers and elephants.

It was directed by Amoghavarsha who is an Indian filmmaker and wildlife photographer. He has worked with National Geographic and BBC in the past. His films have won awards such as the 67th National Film Awards, the Impactdocs Award of Merit and the Australia India Youth Dialogue alumni grant for the year 2015.

It won The National Film Award for Best Exploration/Adventure and the National Film Award for Best Non-Feature Film Narration / Voice Over in 2021.

You can watch it here.

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