Praveen Singh captures man-animal bonding in India's Wandering Lions
Film-maker Praveen Singh of Discovery Channel took three years to capture on his camera, and on his notepad, this unique bond between humans and beasts.
Film-maker Praveen Singh of Discovery Channel has captured the incredible tolerance of the people to the big cats in a documentary India's Wandering Lions. The filmmaker took three years to capture on his camera, and on his notepad, this unique bond between humans and beasts. The programme will be aired on July 6 at 9 pm. When asked as to why he chose to document the Gir lion sanctuary, he told Mail Today: "We wanted to bring to audiences this incredible story of lions and people living together and incredibly, the lions seem to be thriving in this landscape - a mix of forest, scrub patches, fields and farms." He added, "The central theme of the programme shows how people and lions are living in close proximity with each other. For locals, lions are part of their lives and they are happy to have them around." Praveen's engagement with the lions and the people who co-exist with them gives a different spinoff than what many environmentalists argue. He said, "To most people if they see a wild animal living amongst people, they view it as conflict.
However, the lions seem to be doing fine and the people also accept the animals in their midst. The people are proud to have lions in their state and most know that the big cats are not going to attack unless provoked. Many farmers we spoke to said they don't mind the lions in their fields or mango orchards as that ensures deer and other herbivores cannot damage the crops." As regards conservation efforts, he said, "As per the latest census, there are 500 Asiatic lions in Gujarat, with quite a large number far from the Gir forests. The Asiatic lion population has shown a consistent increase over many years and the credit for this must go to the forest department, conservationists, biologists and locals who are tolerant to the presence of lions." He is not the only one. There are thousands who swear by the lion in the Saurashtra region, where the king has by now acquired a territory of 20,000 mind-boggling square km.
This reporter learnt it while riding pillion on a motorcycle driven by a sturdy forest guard trundling through the dusty Gir forests. It could be a bonebreaking ride for many but a daily grind for Ghulam Mehmood. On the return journey with the only light beaming from his twowheeler, Ghulam suddenly stood up on his mobike foot rest that disbalanced the vehicle to scream, "Dekho sir, sher, dekhiye dekhiye." A pride of lions with seven members was crossing the road. For someone who hasn't seen the lion beyond the confines of a zoo, it was the experience of a lifetime. But what caught one's eyes was Ghulam's excitement on seeing something he sees almost every day. There was a sudden swagger in his body that shook the bike and would have thrown his pillion rider to the ground had he not held on strongly. Ghulam's passion is not as much for his daily job that gives him a few hundred rupees but his unflinching love for the wild cat. But he dislikes the wild cat expression. For him, it is sher, the king of his region and his life.
Disovery Channel's India's Wandering Lions captures the tolerance of the people to the big cats living in Gujarat's Gir lion sanctuary.