Conservationist Shekar Dattatri highlights the shy aquatic mammals of Chilika Lake with his children’s book, Ira the Little Dolphin
With over 25 wildlife and conservation documentaries under his belt, Shekar Dattatri now introduces us to a baby Irrawaddy dolphin in Chilika Lake, Odisha. “Irrawaddy dolphins are very rare. There are perhaps less than 10,000 in the world, all of which live in coastal waters and a few rivers and lagoons in Asia. Chilika is one of the few places in India where one can see them. The last survey indicated that there might be about 150 Irrawaddy dolphins in the lake,” begins Dattatri, who decided to write Ira the Little Dolphin while shooting a natural history film on Chilika’s biodiversity and conservation. “During the shoot, my team had captured some superb images of these shy and rarely photographed dolphins. Since no book existed on them, I decided to do a small picture book for children,” he says about the book that will be launched tomorrow on account of World Environment Day.
Ira the Little Dolphin is Dattatri’s third book for children and he insists, “Children have so much idealism. If you inspire them at a young age, they will grow up to be caring adults.” Also an expert on the subject of tiger conservation, Dattatri has made several movies like 25 Years with Tigers and The Truth about Tigers. With the wild cat facing extinction, he says, “In reserves where the right things are being done in terms of patrolling and protection, fair relocation of villages, compensation for cattle kills, and scientific monitoring, tigers are doing well. But in states that are lacking the requisite political will for conservation, tigers are struggling to survive.”
Dattatri says that you too can contribute to conserving the wildlife. “Beyond the obvious three ‘R’s—reduce, reuse, recycle—people from metros can contribute in innumerable ways—by starting long-term activities to mitigate problems, or identifying issues and lobbying with the government to bring about change,” says Dattatri, whose pictorial book about the Chilika Lake for a general audience is awaiting a publisher. He also hopes that soon there will be help from all quarters for other animals that require attention—like the great Indian bustard, pangolin, the Kashmir stag and coral reefs.
Ira the Little Dolphin (Rs. 135) is being launched tomorrow at 5.30 pm, at Alliance Francaise, along with a screening of the movie that inspired it.
— Mrinalini Sundar