Shooting animals the right way

October 19, 2015

Nisar Malik is a documentary filmmaker who has worked with National Geographic, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel and UK's Channel 4. His recent documentary, 'Deosai: The Last Sanctuary', about the endangered Himalayan Brown Bear in the Deosai National Park, has been selected for screening at the prestigious 31st Festival de Menigoute, also known as the International Ornithological Film Festival.

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Dawn spoke to Mr Malik about his work and what it was like filming some of the rarest creatures in the world.

Q: Nature documentaries are notoriously time-consuming to make. How long did it take you to finish the film and, looking back, do you think was it worth all the effort?


A: All the natural history films we make usually span the four seasons, so that we can follow animals and plant life through their yearly behavioural cycle. Each film, therefore, takes at least a year to shoot. These films are unique and a great source of information, both as an archive and for creating conservation awareness, something that has never been done before in Pakistan. We love this work and what it stands for, so yes, hugely worth it and then some!

Q: Do you have a sense that few other people have been able to capture things that you've shot and that you're documenting something that may well be gone soon?

A: Not many people are filming the things we are, especially in Pakistan. What we are filming finally ends up as a reference archive, a visual reference library if you will ... we hope that rather than these species disappearing, the future will see more species flourish, where we could look at these films and say ... look there are more Markhor today then they were when this film was made 30 years ago I Now that would be a fantastic feeling. Something our children would be proud of and benefit from our efforts today!

Q: Would you say Pakistan is fertile ground for scientists, naturalists and nature enthusiasts, given the global interest in your film?

A: Pakistan is unique, consider the topography like a staircase ... from the sea to the highest mountains of the world. This allows a huge variety of resident flora and fauna as well as a haven for 'tourist birds' to come to Pakistan on one of the world's largest 'avian super highways'. The opportunities that this area and the variety of birds and animals can offer are unlimited. We need to support scientists, naturalists, nature lovers as well as the average Pakistani to become aware of these treasures, and to enjoy them.

Q: What's next on your agenda?

A: Our films will soon be aired on PTV and DawnNews, and, for the first time, will be offered on the PBS channel in the US, which we're very excited about. We have already covered four national parks and are now working on the next two, Kirthar in Sindh and Lal Suhanra in the Punjab. These will be released in October 2016.

-By Hassan Belal Zaidi