Sahyadris: Mountains Of The Monsoon






My tryst with King cobras began whilst hanging out with Rom Whitaker the renowned snake guru / pambu dorai from India. It was the start of his long-term work on King Cobras in the Western Ghats. I had never seen a king cobra even after a decade of hiking and camping in various parts of the Western Ghats. This was an opportunity for me to get close and experience these animals first-hand safely beside an experienced person.

We met in the field somewhere close to Sakleshpur in an estate known as KaaduMane. He was there with a team from Icon Films led by Harry Marshall. It was a shoot for BBC Natural World titled “King Cobra and I.” The story was about Rom’s personal saga with the world’s largest venomous snake.

My introduction was nothing short of awe-inspiring!

A few years later Rom called asking if I’d be interested in taking on a full one-hour documentary about king cobras for National Geographic. He had just started the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station and was about to embark on the first-ever attempt to radio-tag King Cobras in order to learn more about what they do, life how far they go and their interactions in the wild. My small crew and I set up camp in Agumbe for nearly six months. In that fairly short period of time we were able to film for the first time in the wild – a pair of courting king cobras, thumb mating, male combat and finally cannibalism. This was the first documentary about these snakes ever made that all this was shot in the wild.

 

SECRETS OF THE KING COBRA is an unprecedented journey into the natural history of the wild King Cobra-following them into their world-revealing what they do, where they go, and who they interact with-when we are not around. And surprisingly, the people of India are very much a part of the story. Early evidence suggests that kings might be more intertwined with humans than previously thought., making this project more important than ever.1 It’s a close and personal look into the secret life of the King-and the best chance we have of ensuring the survival of this legendary snake.

 

  • 2010 – Festival International du Film Animalier – Award for Species Conservation (Secrets of the King Cobra for National Geographic Television)
     
  • 2010 – Screening Award – Telenatura – Spain

My tryst with King cobras began whilst hanging out with Rom Whitaker the renowned snake guru / pambu dorai from India. It was the start of his long-term work on King Cobras in the Western Ghats. I had never seen a king cobra even after a decade of hiking and camping in various parts of the Western Ghats. This was an opportunity for me to get close and experience these animals first-hand safely beside an experienced person.

We met in the field somewhere close to Sakleshpur in an estate known as KaaduMane. He was there with a team from Icon Films led by Harry Marshall. It was a shoot for BBC Natural World titled “King Cobra and I.” The story was about Rom’s personal saga with the world’s largest venomous snake.

My introduction was nothing short of awe-inspiring!

A few years later Rom called asking if I’d be interested in taking on a full one-hour documentary about king cobras for National Geographic. He had just started the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station and was about to embark on the first-ever attempt to radio-tag King Cobras in order to learn more about what they do, life how far they go and their interactions in the wild. My small crew and I set up camp in Agumbe for nearly six months. In that fairly short period of time we were able to film for the first time in the wild – a pair of courting king cobras, thumb mating, male combat and finally cannibalism. This was the first documentary about these snakes ever made that all this was shot in the wild.

 

SECRETS OF THE KING COBRA is an unprecedented journey into the natural history of the wild King Cobra-following them into their world-revealing what they do, where they go, and who they interact with-when we are not around. And surprisingly, the people of India are very much a part of the story. Early evidence suggests that kings might be more intertwined with humans than previously thought., making this project more important than ever.1 It’s a close and personal look into the secret life of the King-and the best chance we have of ensuring the survival of this legendary snake.

 

  • 2010 – Festival International du Film Animalier – Award for Species Conservation (Secrets of the King Cobra for National Geographic Television)
     
  • 2010 – Screening Award – Telenatura – Spain

A full-grown clouded leopard coat hangs inside a Naga kitchen. It was shot during the obligatory â??no-hunting seasonâ?? by the village headman of Zipu village near Shatuza on the Indo-Myanmar border.

Skins and skulls of various rarely seen species are part of common decor in the kitchensâ?? of many Naga tribes â?? the best place to do a faunal biodiversity inventory. In fact a new species of leaf deer unknown to India, website like this
ask or to science was found rummaging through these dusty collections of old skulls and bones.
I’m pleased to have one of my images on display at the Burke Museum of Natural History in Seattle, diagnosis Washington. The image, adiposity ‘Naga Kitchen’ shows the inside of a kitchen in Nagaland where one can study the entire biodiversity of the state, at least the edible type.

The 2012 International Conservation PhotographyConservation-photo award winners at the Burke: beautiful, brutal, complex exhibit at Seattle’s Burke Museum mixes an environmental-activism message with some utterly transportive camera work. The exhibition will be on from now until Nov. 25, 2012 after which it will travel to other museums across the USA.

http://www.sandeshkadur.com/images/posts/t/Kadur_Sandesh_Natural_ICP002.jpg

A Naga Kitchen

Story behind the image:

A year ago in June I was accompanying a team documenting the Biodiversity of Nagaland. We were in the village of Shatuza when news of a clouded leopard pelt came in. Anaki – the school head-master, Priya Singh and I drove to the little hamlet of Zipu. Here we asked the village Headman and he proudly brought out the half-rotting pelt of a clouded leopard.  He said he shot the animal during the obligatory ‘no-hunting’ season while he was on his way to work in the fields. It was about 8AM, and he shot the animal, not to eat it, not in self-defense, not because he was scared, he shot it, just because it was there – a very natural thing to do in these parts along the Indo-Myanmar border.

Skins and skulls of various rarely seen species are part of common decor in the kitchens’ of many Naga tribes – the best place to do a faunal biodiversity inventory. In fact a new species of leaf deer unknown to India, or to science was found whilst rummaging through these dusty collections of old skulls and bones.

What is Conservation Photography?

Cristina Mittermeier puts it best, “The concept of conservation photography has been proposed out of the need to make a distinction between the creation of images for the sake of photography, and the creation of images to serve the purpose of conserving nature.

Conservation photography showcases both the beauty of our planet and its vanishing spirit, and it represents the “pictorial voice” used by many conservation organizations to further their messages. Although traditional nature photography is good enough to do the job, the creation of images that inspire and move people to change behaviors and take action requires an understanding of the issues necessary to tell the story; this is the job of a conservation photographer. “

http://www.sandeshkadur.com/images/posts/t/Kadur_Sandesh_Natural_ICP004.jpg
2010 BBC – Wildlife Photographer of the Year – One Earth Award – Highly Commended
In the hills of Meghalaya, northeast India, ‘hunting is engrained in the culture,’ says Sandesh. ‘Everything is eaten.’ Sandesh was photographing a pile of frogs that had been skinned and were drying in the sun when this little boy ran into his house and returned proudly holding a bird. ‘He had shot the blue whistling thrush with a catapult that morning, and it was barely alive,’ says Sandesh. Wildlife is becoming increasingly scarce in the area, not so much because of hunting but because of forest loss to logging, cultivation and development projects. The best hunting areas are now the few pockets of undisturbed natural vegetation, many of them supposedly protected areas.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II + 24-105mm f4 lens; 1/60 sec at f5; ISO 800.

About the International Conservation Photography Awards

http://www.sandeshkadur.com/images/posts/t/Kadur_Sandesh_Community_01.jpgThe International Conservation Photography Awards (ICP Awards), is a premier worldwide photography event. The biennial juried photo competition includes an online exhibit, a six-week museum gallery show at the Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture in Seattle, Washington, and publication in a prestigious photography magazine. The selected prints celebrate the world’s diversity along with the creativity and originality of photographers.

Over 75 photos were chosen from more than 1,500 images submitted by amateur and professional photographers from 15 countries across the globe. A panel of five judges selected winning photographs in each of the nine categories. The photographs are conservation-focused, chosen in categories such as Wildlife, Landscape, Underwater, and Natural Environment at Risk, which examines environmental threats to urban areas. Capturing beautiful moments in the natural world from the Arctic to the South Seas, the photos connect us to the tiniest of creatures and enormous environmental changes. The competition and its award-winning photos inspire, educate, and encourage us all to consider our impacts on the world’s natural resources.
http://www.sandeshkadur.com/images/posts/t/Wt. Art Wolfe_ICP_2010.jpg

In 2010, my image of Greater Adjutant Storks (Leptoptilos dubius) won 1st place in the Community at Risk category of  ICP. I was honoured to be present in Seattle for the opening show and to meet with Art Wolfe, the founder and creator of this biennial contest that fosters awareness of our natural world.

For More Information
International Conservation Photography Awards – 2010
Sahyadris: Mountains Of The Monsoon follows the wildlife of the Western Ghats, online from the peaks of the High Ranges, where the drama of the Nilgiri tahr rut—never before fully captured on camera—takes place during the height of the monsoon, to the thick shola forests, home to the highly endangered Lion-Tailed Macaque, to the dry deciduous forests at the foothills of the mountains, where elephants and other wildlife wait in expectation for the coming deluge.  Also explored is the relationship between spirituality and the strong conservation ethos of India, a land of over a billion people.

Format – DV 1 X 46” English

If you would like to purchase a copy of this documentary on DVD for Rs.450, please sign-up here and you will be contacted once the DVD’s are ready to ship.

 

Director’s Note

Sahyadris: Mountains of the Monsoon was shot over a period of four years by Sandesh Kadur.  In between his shooting schedule, Kadur was also a full-time student at the University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College.  He completed his degree in wildlife biology in Fall 2001 and finished postproduction shortly afterwards.  This is his first documentary.

Making a documentary is never easy. It would simply not have been possible without the support of my mentor Lawrence V. Lof, who in many ways was the catalyst and support system behind the project. His belief and his personal monetary investment allowed me to spend the time necessary to bring such a project to completion.

What started off as a 3-month summer project turned into a 3 Year labour of love project. As the project progressed, so did the support system – the silent backers behind the project. This is much like what Kicstarter is today, and without their contributions however big or small it may have been, Sahyadris: Mountains of the Monsoon would never have been the same. Thank you!

Acknowledgments

R.M. Ray, I.F.S
Mr. & Mrs. K.N. Changappa
Col. John Wakefield
P.N. Unnikrishnan, I.F.S.
A.S. Sadashivaiah, I.F.S.
Jungle Lodges & Resorts
Ibex Engineering
Kadur Engineering
G.P. Srikanth
Vishnu Narain
Krishna Narain
Michael VanIngen
Mohan Alempath
Poovaiah
Ricardo Camargo
Norberto Martinez
Nancy Sclight

DR. & Mrs. B.N. Vishwanath
Dr. & Mrs. B.N. Lakshmikanth
Dr. & Mrs. B.N. Prabhakar
Mr. & Mrs. B.N. Prakash

 

 

 

 

 

 

THANKS TO
HIGH RANGE WILDLIFE & ENVIRONMENT PRESERVATION ASSOCIATION   |   KARNATAKA FOREST DEPARTMENT  
KERALA FOREST DEPARTMENT   |   TAMIL NADU FOREST DEPARTMENT  |   MAHARASHTRA FOREST DEPARTMENT

Producer/CameramanSandesh V. Kadur Narrator – Dr. Juliet V. Garcia Sound RecordistCara E. Wade Research – Norman L. Richard
EditorSandesh V. Kadur MusicSunyata Vas / Bale Khan Executive ProducerLawrence V. Lof

A Gorgas Science Foundation Production – 2002

In memory of
Dr. & Mrs. K.N. Narayan

 

Director Sandesh Kadur’s Interview with Radio-host Mario Muñoz

 What do you hope to accomplish with this film?

I want to accomplish things on several levels.  First off, when most people think of wildlife, they think of the open plains of Africa.  When people think of India, they tend to think of the crowded, dirty slums of Calcutta.  Yet India has vast areas of wilderness set aside as national parks and is one of the most bio-diverse nations on earth.  I’d like to alter people’s impression of India—I don’t want poverty-stricken slums to be their only image of this beautiful country.

I also want to help people understand the importance of the wildlife and habitats in south India.  And not just American audiences, but audiences in India also.  Most nature documentaries never reach the people most closely involved with the wildlife—the people who live in and around the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries where these animals are found.  We at Gorgas Science Foundation plan to widely distribute copies of this film in all the locales it was shot, and in the local languages of the area, so that the people of those areas can learn more about the wildlife they live with, and perhaps develop a greater appreciation for it.

What is remarkable about India, or the area of India you were filming in?

What most people don’t realize is that India, a nation only a third the size of the United States, or 2.2% of the earth’s land surface, supports nearly 20% of the world’s population—that’s over one billion people.  With all those people, how could there possibly be room to support even a single elephant?  And yet India has over twenty thousand elephants, plus tigers, leopards, deer, monkeys, cobras, and an amazing variety of birdlife.  Even I wonder how this can be—the math tells you it just isn’t possible.  And by American standards of living (which are incredibly wealthy on a global scale), it probably isn’t.

 So why is there so much wildlife left in India?

The amount of wildlife left in India is due in large part to Indian’s religious reverence for animals.  Nearly all religions found in India assert the inherent sanctity of life, some more so than others.  Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism—all promote preserving the lives of animals, whether through vegetarianism or other lifestyle practices.  In Hinduism, for example, tigers are revered as the vehicle of goddess Durga; the peacock is the vehicle of Lord Karthikeya; the most popular deity on the Subcontinent is Lord Ganesha, the elephant god; another popular deity is Hanuman, the monkey god.  And tree worship is probably the oldest form of religion present in this part of the world.  All of this adds up to a mindset more conducive to conservation than that of the average Westerner.  Over here (USA), conservation is buying recycled goods, contributing to World Wildlife Fund or the Nature Conservancy, but it rarely involves real sacrifice.  In India, where resources are so scant and the majority of the population lives well below the poverty line, a decision to conserve rather than consume can greatly affect one’s life. If in India, the population consumed anything close to what the average West consumes, then there probably wouldn’t be anything left to conserve!