News and Views
Dr. Susan Sharma
The good news is that this online club is growing at the rate of three to four additional members per day. The bad news is that the the involvement of registered members in the interactive features
of the website is not forthcoming as expected. Please participate more actively in the monthly online quiz, the online chat on 18th of every month and also in the currently hot "Elephant Story" contest.
A sincere apology from our team for a bug in the submission of online contest stories. Submission of text with special characters was not being accepted initially. But the bug has long since been removed.
And do send in your stories if you have not done so already.
I visited Nepal this month. The conservation problems faced by this Himalayan kingdom are very similar to those of India's. The migratory birds use the lakes in Nepal as a transitory stopover while flying to India.
This year the birds have decreased and are making use of any available wetland as a resting place. Many of the splendid water bodies in the 'twenty thousand lakes' area are shrinking due to water hyacinth and silting.
The Royal Chitwan National Park is recovering from the July 2002 floods in which small mammals perished in large numbers. The forest is surrounded by villages who eke a living from the forest. The wild elephants seem to have all but disappeared. Rhinos were
sighted easily on the elephant safari. Crocodiles could be seen basking in the sun during an early morning canoe ride. At the elephant breeding centre baby elephants amuse visitors who feed them bananas and leaves. Will these babies ever learn the myriad uses
of the millions of muscles in their trunks? That is something they have to learn from the chained matriarchs on their supervised sojourn into the forest. There was some excitement on the day of our visit about a wild tusker who appeared near the breeding centre.
Awareness about the need for conservation seemed to be present almost everywhere around the Park and also among Khatmandu based birdwatchers. There was young
Shankar, ( Tel. 430645 ), who opted to take a night casino job so that he can watch birds during the day. His
'Save the Bird Nepal' NGO has identified silting and mining for marble as the major threats to bird lakes ans forests in the area. His pet project: clearing the 'Taudaha' lake- which is just 7 km from Khatmandu- of silt & hyacinth. We saw coots, ruddy steel
ducks and pochards swimming about in the polluted waters of this lake.
"I believe it is now more important than ever for filmmakers to make programs that discuss vital conservation issues. Conservation films can play an important role in producing an informed and active citizenry,
which is what keeps our democracy thriving.
Of course, broadcasters are citizens too. They want clean air and robust wildlife populations for themselves and their kids. But like the rest of us, they also want to hold on to their jobs. Their performance is
assessed on the ratings they achieve, not on their contributions to the cause of conservation. Their first priority is the solvency of their company. Producers have to remember that making and selling programs is a business.
We need a new generation of wildlife films that attract large, new audiences and huge ratings while inspiring viewers to become active in conservation. This is a noble cause worthy of all the storytelling techniques
and audience-grabbing approaches we can bring to it. Conservation is too important not to be made entertaining."
(Chris Palmer is President and CEO of National Wildlife Productions at the Reston, VA-based National Wildlife Federation. He can be reached at