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  • Writer's pictureVikrant Vartak

Lessons from the Series Poacher



This post/blog is dedicated to all the wildlife lovers, conservationists, animal welfare activists, and animal lovers. Poacher, a newly released drama series on Amazon Prime, directed by Richie Mehta and backed by Alia Bhatt, is a treat for all of them and also a must-watch for everyone else too. With its gripping storytelling, the series not just rates very high on entertainment, it is also very rich & powerful on messaging. In this blog, I share five key takeaways for me from the series.


Based on the real-life events of Operation Shikar, the series covers a sprawling investigation that took place between 2015 and 2017 into elephant poaching in Kerala, which led to 72 arrests across India, including elephant poachers, government officials, carvers and high-end ivory art dealers.


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An eye opener on India’s eroding ecology and on the menace of still-rampant poaching, the series is an intense, hair-raising thriller, abound with extremely rich messages. The following are my key takeaways as a layman.


1) Consumption is the Main Culprit: The series aptly drives home the message that the most responsible perpetrators of any crime, including poaching, are the end consumers. If the end consumers stop consuming, the entire supply chain will start collapsing. As long as consumption keeps happening, breaking the supply chain and arresting its key players will just have a limited and temporary impact, because new supply chains will keep coming into existence.


In the context of wildlife conservation, the world must absolutely stop consuming anything that drives this heinous crime.


2) Ecological Balance: We know that forests serve as lungs for the entire planet. Every living being – flora or fauna – plays an important role in maintaining balance in an ecosystem like forest. Given that we derive immense benefits from the forest – despite the fact that we stay far-far away from them – it is the responsibility of humans to maintain this balance, least expectation being not to disturb it.


3) Qualities: Humans vs. Animals/Birds: At various points, the series brings out the difference between humans & animals. One of the central characters Alan explains to his son that all the animals & birds are completely honest always; whereas humans are the only dishonest creatures in the word. Alan, in another instance, shows a python in the forest to his son and explains that pythons, like all other animals/birds, attack only when provoked, whereas humans are the only creatures who attack & harm others without any provocation.


4) Coexistence with Our Furry Friends: Given that every animal, bird, or plant - wild or domestic - plays a contributing role in our lives and adds value to it, we must learn to happily co-exist with them. Even Modiji during the pandemic used to appeal to us countrymen to take care of animals & birds in our localities as pandemic posed a survival threat to them too in a different way.


5) Active Contribution to the Forests: While the points above are more to pique our interest and awareness, some of us can think of a more active contribution to the cause. As a layman, until a decade ago, I used to think (if at all one thinks of them!) that forests being a wealth of resources, what would people depending on it, working in it, or conserving it possibly want from the outer world. This notion is completely wrong.


Another central character in the series is an old forest guard called Aruku. He is the whistleblower who exposes the entire poaching & ivory smuggling scandal. He gets dragged into it owing to his utter poverty, his nagging worry of his imminent retirement, and his son’s seriously illness needing costly treatment. Out of desperation, he enters the illegal trade and gets stuck into it increasingly hurting his conscience.


I am sure our Indian forests are full of Arukus. A lot more external help is necessary. I know of several people around me doing exemplary work for the forests and wildlife – Anuj Khare, Sanjay Deshpande, Jungle Belles team (Hemangi Vartak & Aarti Karve), Saleel Chodankar and many more. HATS OFF TO YOU GUYS!!!

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Vartak Heritage, 100 Ft D.P.Road,

Near Mhatre Bridge, Opp Gharkul Lawns,

Vartak Baug, Erandwane, Pune-411052

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