Chat Archives
Chat on ""Man-Leopard Conflict - how we can deal with it"" dated April 15, 2012
  • John H. Eickert: Hello, Susan, how are you?
  • Susan Sharma: Hi John! great to see you
  • Susan Sharma: what time is it for you?
  • John H. Eickert: Yes, it has been a while but am excited to become more of a part of this club.
  • John H. Eickert: It is 800am on Sunday the 15.
  • Susan Sharma: Hi krishna
  • krishna: hi.susan. gud eveng..
  • Susan Sharma: Hi yasho, hope Ashvin is coming soon
  • krishna: hi.yashodara..
  • Yashodara : yes he'll be here soon
  • Susan Sharma: John, how is your book coming along?
  • John H. Eickert: I will have one available in May and another in June and with luck and time all five will be available by the end of the year.
  • Susan Sharma: good to hear that, John.
  • John H. Eickert: I will be in Asia again this fall and would hope we can get together.
  • Susan Sharma: Sure.
  • John H. Eickert: Susan, do you have a Skype account?
  • Susan Sharma: For others, john has written a number of articles on iWC -search for them
  • Susan Sharma: Hi Ashvin welcome
  • Ashvin Kumar: took me a while to figure this tou. but here I am sorry
  • John H. Eickert: I am very interested in this chat as we here often come into conflict with bears and panthers.
  • Ashvin Kumar: Where do you live John?
  • John H. Eickert: I live in the state of Montana in America. It is a large state that borders Canada and we are blessed with many wild places.
  • Ashvin Kumar: WOW! one of my dreams to visit Montana. Been to Ywoming - spectacular.
  • John H. Eickert: Have you been to Yellowstone? That park is out my backdoor.
  • Ashvin Kumar: Hi Susan... how do we do this?
  • Ashvin Kumar: Yes Yellowstone is why we went to Yoming :)
  • Susan Sharma: Ashvin, tell us about the experiences you had while talking to villagers attacked by leopards while shooting your film
  • Ashvin Kumar: OK.
  • Ashvin Kumar: We shot the film in JIm Corbett Park in the foothills of the Himalayas.
  • Ashvin Kumar: A unique ecosystem
  • Ashvin Kumar: pine in the hills moving into deciduous as the hills meet the pains.
  • Ashvin Kumar: plains.
  • Ashvin Kumar: so the villagers you refer to are mountain folk
  • Ashvin Kumar: these jungles have been emptied of its wildlife the predator is compelled to move into human habitation
  • Ashvin Kumar: leopards mainly - picking up dogs and calfs
  • Ashvin Kumar: but then also turning man - eater
  • John H. Eickert: How often does this human predation occur?
  • Ashvin Kumar: when that happens there is a curfew imposed in the affected area
  • Ashvin Kumar: Much more than you'd imagine.
  • Ashvin Kumar: John, the present stats are about 150 people are attacked by either a tiger or leopard.
  • Ashvin Kumar: in India today.
  • Ashvin Kumar: all of it is to do with encroachment or failed attempts at poaching.
  • Ashvin Kumar: Thats what my film is about in fact.
  • Ashvin Kumar: when you wound a leopard as you know you cripple its ability to hunt its 'natural' prey.
  • Susan Sharma: a wounded leopard is the one who becomes a man eater, am I right?
  • John H. Eickert: Where can I view your film?
  • Ashvin Kumar:
  • Ashvin Kumar: and it will be online in the USA on 04 May 2012 when we release it here in India.
  • John H. Eickert: Thank you.
  • Ashvin Kumar: Susan - not always. It can do with old age, rearing (mother was a man eater so cubs are weaned on human flesh)
  • Ashvin Kumar: and getting naturally wounded, like by a porcupine
  • Ashvin Kumar: or having bad teeth.
  • John H. Eickert: Opportunity?
  • Ashvin Kumar: But as you know these animals are elusive and fear humans, so tend ot keep out of the way.
  • Ashvin Kumar: We've survived with these animals filling our jungles for thousands of years.
  • Ashvin Kumar: With mutual respect.
  • Ashvin Kumar: living muc closer to them than we do now.
  • Ashvin Kumar: The quantum of attacks is much lower than the 'contact' even now. Spl when you consider that large jungle tracts are within city limits.
  • Ashvin Kumar: or town limits rather.
  • Ashvin Kumar: not to mention the number of villages in wildlife zones.
  • Susan Sharma: vidya arthrya has done her research on man leopard conflict. Did you chance to meet her Ashvin?
  • Ashvin Kumar: no Susan.
  • Ashvin Kumar: Did not.
  • Ashvin Kumar: I made this film about five years ago and its only releasing now in India.
  • Ashvin Kumar: Don't know if she was out with her work at that time.
  • Susan Sharma: why the delay in release?
  • Ashvin Kumar: Sigh...
  • Ashvin Kumar: Long boring story about indian distribution blah blah. would love to tell you if you like but its to do with wildlife of another kind.
  • Ashvin Kumar: man eaters there too, though...
  • John H. Eickert: There is an international film festival that begins on May 5, would you be interested in a screening?
  • Susan Sharma: Hi apoorva and shashi shoot your questions to Ashvin
  • Ashvin Kumar: Coming back to your original question, Susan, one of the Mahavats (elephant 'drivers') in Corbett was mauled by a man-eater and lived to tell the tale.
  • Ashvin Kumar: that was a tiger.
  • Ashvin Kumar: John : sure.
  • Ashvin Kumar: please would you mail us, though isn't it too late. Cause festivals do their programming way in advance.
  • Ashvin Kumar:
  • John H. Eickert: I'll contact you after the chat.
  • Shashi Kant Sharma: Ah that Mahawat in Corbett was Subedar Ali
  • Susan Sharma: I have made a documentary on that tiger tale "To Corbett with love" based on Subedar Ali the mahout story
  • Ashvin Kumar: Subedar Ali is who I was talking about... there you go !
  • Shashi Kant Sharma: On the Leopard, this predator seems to live and thrive closer to human habitats than any other
  • Ashvin Kumar: Let me cut and paste something for you that we've put into the press to explain more about the film and why I choose a leopard over a tiger.
  • Shashi Kant Sharma: India report more attacks by leopards than tigers/bears etc.
  • John H. Eickert: Is this increased aggression or an example of opportunity?
  • John H. Eickert: Are there more attacks because there are more leopards than bears or tigers or is there a new 'type' of leopard that is more bold?
  • Shashi Kant Sharma: I imagine loss of forests brings them closer to human habitats and then it may have to do with the basic nature and temperament of a leopard
  • Ashvin Kumar: Agree with Shashi its to do with encroachment into their habitats, overpopulation and loss of prey in the forest.
  • Shashi Kant Sharma: Ashvin what does your research point to as the cause
  • Ashvin Kumar: THe basic nature and temperament of any predator is not the reason for increased man animal conflicts.
  • Ashvin Kumar: A predator needs to survive and has some pretty awesome tools that make it so
  • Shashi Kant Sharma: Folklore supports the view that a Leopard is able to match Man's cunning better than other predators
  • Ashvin Kumar: Trying to paste soemthing but tehres a word limit ok see if I can edit it down quick.
  • mani: hi all..
  • Ashvin Kumar: The danger posed by the leopard is heightened in this story because we come to know the characters before the leopard appears. A man-eating tiger is not as scary as a man-eating leopard, due to man-animal proximity the incidences of such attacks is on the rise all over the country.
  • Ashvin Kumar: The leopard is a smaller animal, it is a sneaky animal, it rarely allows itself to be spotted – it hunts elusively and comes at you through the shadows. It can climb onto roofs, trees and attack its prey from the ground or from above.
  • Ashvin Kumar: When a Leopard becomes a veteran man-eater it begins to think like us human beings. It is unnerving to consider that it actually learns our ways….” The behavior of the leopard was inspired by the stories of Jim Corbett, in particular The Man-Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag
  • Ashvin Kumar: More than a 150 people are killed in leopard or tiger attacks in India every year due to mounting poaching and encroachment on the wilderness. Such animals become man-eaters. The film is about a wounded leopard, who's only choice for survival is to hunt humans and this story is inspired by one such attack...
  • Ashvin Kumar: hi mani
  • mani: hi...
  • mani: sorry i joined late.. so out of context
  • Ashvin Kumar: no problem i just pasted something up above as part of an answer to a question, take a look
  • Shashi Kant Sharma: In your Film Ashvin what are the ideas generated on handling the Man-Leopard conflict. Hope one will get to see the film eventually
  • Ashvin Kumar: No ideas Shashi, only trying to achieve some sensitivity and awareness with this one.
  • Ashvin Kumar: in it the animal is hunting humans and for a while feels like the antagonist.
  • Ashvin Kumar: which is the way they are perceived by a vast majority
  • Ashvin Kumar: the idea in the film is to startle and scare us into realising that this on going rape of the wilderness has consequences.
  • Ashvin Kumar: nature can and does strike back.
  • Ashvin Kumar: Shashi the film releases on the 04th of May in PVR cinemas all over India, I hope you get to see it.
  • a j mithra: it always does but what is the use of screening these kind of films in the cities?
  • Ashvin Kumar: use?
  • a j mithra: peopl would only appreciate ur work, ur story telling and camera work.. But dont u think people who live near the forests should be educated on this issue?
  • Ashvin Kumar: the use is that all the money and decision making is in cities. even though rural areas are the most affected. if you need policy change it has to come through people whose voices are heard.
  • a j mithra: yes ..what difference does it make to a city dweller who had seen a leapord in the zoo or in a film
  • Shashi Kant Sharma: For sure but then Man harnesses technology to rid himself of all threats - and that is the undoing of even wily predators
  • Ashvin Kumar: the people who live near forests firstly, need little education about the issues. they too are trying to survive. They are aware of how imp nature is to their survival.
  • a j mithra: but the same is not the case in the cities.. they are indirect partners in raping nature
  • Ashvin Kumar: And they have lived much closer to nature than the city counterpart. They are not the problem. Go to Ranthambore and see the work being done in providing villlagers around the park with alternate means of employment so that they don't need to poach and chop wood in the forest.
  • Shashi Kant Sharma: My interaction with people living around the National Parks in India indicates their willingness to withdraw from core areas if they are given hte right incentives
  • Ashvin Kumar: Conservation is not just abotu the animals in the jungle its abotu empowering communities around the jungles to take part in conservation but you can tell that to somenoe who needs his next meal.
  • Ashvin Kumar: You have to create a situation of alternatives.
  • Ashvin Kumar: Then the villagers themselves become 'invested' into the process of conservation.
  • Shashi Kant Sharma: I guess the direction we need to move in is, people living around the Parks need to have a stake in preserving Forests which they willo develop if the income derived from tourism goes to them, in major part
  • Ashvin Kumar: AJ - secondly, a film maker makes a film to tell a story primarily,
  • a j mithra: But i feel that Tourism in itself is a bane to forests..
  • Ashvin Kumar: if she can do that while highlighting an issue great.
  • mani: If I'm not mistaken.. leopards come to the fringes of the forest looking for easier pickings... sensitising the ppl in direct contact with Leopards is very imp...
  • Shashi Kant Sharma: For sure, to draw attention to issues that need attention
  • Ashvin Kumar: mani - leopards won't haev ot move out of the forest if they have prey to hunt within.
  • Ashvin Kumar: that is the rule of the thumb.
  • Ashvin Kumar: Shashi - yes, that is the general idea.
  • a j mithra: So, u mean to say that you are a film maker first and then an environmentalist is it?
  • mani: i agree with so many villages in and around the forest..& tthe stay dogs in the villages makes easy pickings for the animals
  • Ashvin Kumar: I mean that my job is to make films.
  • mani: apparently.. Persecutoin of leopards in N.Ind is very hish
  • Ashvin Kumar: I choose this theme because of my concerns and asked myself how can I use my skills to tell this story so that more people understand why these animals need to be saved.
  • John H. Eickert: Why do they need to be saved?
  • Ashvin Kumar: But for my film to work, it has to work primariy as an entertainment.
  • mani: just read an article.. abt leopard problem near Krishnagiri Dist, TN
  • Ashvin Kumar: John, because they are co inheritors of our earth
  • mani: The leoaprds are coming from the hills during the dry season looking for easy pickings to the villages.
  • John H. Eickert: I am delighted that you wrote that, thank you.
  • Shashi Kant Sharma: Another reason will be, unless they are around, forests will simply disappear and the environment equilibrium lost
  • a j mithra: Do u think ur film would be seen as an entertainer or as a warning to the policy makers in the city?
  • Ashvin Kumar: Shashi - yes that and the fact that they tell us what its like to live as we were intended.
  • John H. Eickert: I agree, Shashi.
  • Ashvin Kumar: AJ i can't comment on that - you'll have ot see for yourself and make up your own mind. ALl I can say is that there will be talk abou it.
  • John H. Eickert: I believe that we are intended to live in harmony not conflict and that all life is sacred.
  • Ashvin Kumar: I don't discount cities and the comforts and conveniences of urban life. But can that not co exist with this, this is the question.
  • a j mithra: Hope for the best.. Would be the happiest person if ur film makes a difference in conservation..
  • Ashvin Kumar: John. Yes. Agree. IS what I mean by as we were intended.
  • Ashvin Kumar: inshallah AJ.
  • Ashvin Kumar: Thank you.
  • Shashi Kant Sharma: Yeah but all of us need to put our shoulder to it
  • krishna: sure we will
  • Ashvin Kumar: And now... I see the time is 8.30 guys I need to split... Susan is that ok?
  • John H. Eickert: Yes, Shashi, all of us. We are a global community now, like it or not.
  • Ashvin Kumar: Doing my little bit Shashi / John... Thank you for the great interaction!
  • Susan Sharma: Ashvin, thanks for a very strightforward and compelling conversation
  • Ashvin Kumar: Wish there was more time, was just getting the hang of this...
  • John H. Eickert: Thank you, Ashvin.
  • Susan Sharma: Hope the film does well. We need more film makers like you from india
  • Ashvin Kumar: Thank you for having me. Hope we can all join together to Save The Forest - May the 04th be with you all!
  • Ashvin Kumar: A plug for my film for those who joined late... - please see it, its out in theatres 04 May 2012.
  • Ashvin Kumar: All over India in PVR theatres.
  • mani: Best of Luck.. Ashvin...
  • Susan Sharma: Sure. Thanks all participants. We are closing the room now.
  • krishna: best of luck ..ashvin.. surely we will feedback u abt film...
  • a j mithra: all the very best Aswin
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