Gathering of Fireflies in Annamalai Tiger Reserve | Photo credit: KA Dhanuparan
“Trust me, this wonderful film will steal your heart. Annamalais – An Eco Paradise of Tamil Nadu. On this World Wildlife Day let’s pledge to protect our ecological heritage,” said Supriya Sahu, Additional Chief Secretary. Environment Climate Change and Forests, the Tamil Nadu government tweeted, as they launched the film on World Wildlife Day (March 3).
A film on the Annamalai Tiger Reserve, made by Pollachi Papyrus in collaboration with the Tamil Nadu Forest Department, is currently streaming on YouTube and Instagram. “We made a film that captures ATR in a nutshell,” says Praveen Shanmuganandan, editor. The Pollachi Papyrus Who has scripted and curated the film.
A thriving biodiversity hotspot, the ATR hosts a variety of pristine ecosystems and is home to many wild species. The drone shots in the film show some of the iconic species including Great Hornbills, Lion-tailed Macaque (LTM), Nilgiri Tahr, and Purple Frog.
Poster of the movie Photo credit: KA Dhanuparan
In April last year, in a rare event, millions of fireflies lit up the forest as they emitted light in unison and moved between trees in the dense forest. “This footage was the most challenging,” says award-winning wildlife photographer KA Dhanuparan, who has shot the film’s cinematography. “All the footage included in the film was captured over a period of three years,” he said, adding that the forest was pitch black and he could hear the roar of the tiger throughout the filming. “We cannot use light in the forest and at that time we had no clue about the animals around us. We saw an elephant a few meters away from us. It was dangerous, but unforgettable because it was fire. The flies had a wonderful show.
Along with footage of fireflies congregating, the film also shows a rich diversity of habitats including rainforest, evergreen forest, dry deciduous, shola patch, scrub forest and riparian forest. An important tiger reserve, Annamalis has a thriving diversity of tree species, amphibians, birds, reptiles and mammals. Animalai also supports local communities including Malasar, Malai Malasar, Kadar, Eravallar, Puliyar and Maddovar. Kozhikamuthi Elephant Camp in ATR is one of the oldest elephant camps in the country. The mahouts are drawn from the Malasar tribal community.
Anamalais Landscape | Photo credit: KA Dhanuparan
Dhanuparan spent several hours inside the forest documenting the landscape inhabited by some of the most famous wild species. “I was lucky enough 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 behavior of the great hornbill. On a lucky day, I was able to witness this casque-butting behavior where the bright, yellow and black birds perched on a tree flew off and into the air. Were busy joking. We have to make sure that even using drone shots, the species are not disturbed.
The aim of the film is to create a sense of appreciation for this beautiful scene in the people who come to see it. “We are also urging them to contribute to its conservation and be responsible tourists,” added Parveen.
The film is currently streaming on Pollachi Papyrus’ channel on YouTube. You can also check him out on Instagram @Pollachi Papyrus.