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Changemakers


 
Mike Pandey

Mike H Pandey has been campaigning for saving India’s wild life and environment for three decades through his films. His films, many of them award winning ones, range from whales, sharks and elephants to tribal life and medicinal plants.
In The Last Migration, a film made in 1994, and broadcast over Doordarshan he showed the conflict between man and animal over the forests and land resources. He pointed out that elephants who trample over the villages do so because their habitats and sources of food have been destroyed by man’s greed for resources and expansive tendencies. They should be viewed as victims and not rogue animals.
The sequel to this film, Vanishing Giants produced in 2004 drew the attention of the government to brutal traditional methods of elephant capture which often proved fatal. It led to the ban on these methods. Both these films brought down the rate of elephant mortality in India.
Pandey was born and brought up in Kenya right next to the Nairobi National Park. His parents were Indians who had shifted to Kenya. Perhaps this childhood proximity to animals cultivated his love for them which was later manifested in his films.
He studied filmmaking in the US and Britain and then settled in Delhi, founding Riverbank Studios in 1973 to make educational and environmental documentaries. Being one of the earliest Indian film makers in the conservation movement, Pandey had a difficult road to travel.
His efforts saw the light of success when The Last Migration received the Panda award after being shown at the Wildscreen Festival in Bristol, England. He later went on to make Earth Matters, a weekly series on environmental issues. It was one of the earliest television programmes which helped generate awareness about environmental problems in India.