The citizens got a picturesque glance into the lives of River Terns, the tiny birds that flock in thousands to the Western Ghats every March to May, at the UB City amphitheatre which was the venue for the premiere of ‘River Terns of Bhadra’, a documentary made by wildlife filmmaker and photographer, Amoghavarsha. Every year, the Bhadra dam is witness to a huge gathering of thousands of River Terns in its backwaters, which it shares with the Bhadra Tiger reserve, one of India’s most pristine natural habitats. The phenomenon is rare as these birds choose the same island each year to nest. The documentary follows every minute detail of their lives, as they hunt, nest, feed, mate and raise their offsprings.
The documentary is a two and a half hour celebration of India’s bio-diversity and the urgent need to protect it. “People need to see and understand the rich flora and fauna that exists in their very own state. I want to create a strong message with this movie - if people love something, they’ll come out to protect it. And this movie is motivation for that,” says Amoghavarsha.
He and his assistant, Apoorva followed the lives of these little winged creatures closely over a period of five months, which was initially supposed to be two, during which time these birds come, breed and also get their young ones ready for life. “This was a commissioned project by Jungle lodges and resorts. They have a property overlooking this phenomenon, hence naming it River Tern Lodge. They wanted an education film to be shown to their guests to increase their knowledge about the place. They gave me a short brief of what they were looking for and then, we worked on the story,” says Amoghavarsha.
According to Amoghavarsha, the birds in the film are meant to be anchors to show how fragile the ecosystem is. “For example, two years ago when the dam gates didn’t open on time, the birds did not come. If the rains come early, the birds die. The film is also connected to life on the forest reserve,” says the filmmaker.
The movie is India’s first Creative Commons wildlife film, making it free for everyone to view and distribute. “Documentaries are usually not accessible to everyone. We want people to see what we have in Karnataka and I want this movie to reach everyone. If anyone wants to screen it, they can write to us and we will send a DVD,” says the filmmaker.
He is already busy working on his next projects, as of now. “We are working on a lot of projects right now. I just finished a small video on rain forests in Tasmania, which will be freely available on the Internet in a month or two. We are also working on a project where we have tried to bring in a little bit of humour to wildlife. This will also be out quite soon. I want to make wildlife mainstream now,” says Amoghavarsha.
The event saw well-known personalities from across the city coming down to show their solidarity to this initiative. Among those present were Ravikanthe Gowda ,(DCP, Bangalore Central), several IFS Officers including Anur Reddy (MD, Jungle Lodges & Resorts).