It’s not every day that you get to see a frog that uses dance moves to seduce its mate, or the ‘potter frog’ that gently encases his eggs in clay to protect from predators.Even forAjay & Vijay Bedi, award-winning filmmakers, photographers, and wildlife conservationists, who have been filming, researching and exploring in India for many years, it wasn’t an easy affair. It took them 3-long years deep in the swampy rainforests of India, to understand and document frogs smaller than a thumbnail. They wanted to captures species that have their own unique story to tell.
Through “The secret life of frogs” they wanted to draw attention to these tiny creatures as old as dinosaurs yet still a mystery to science. Sadly, more than 80% of the 400 species of amphibians found in India are already on the endangered list. Some have not been seen from 18 to 170 years. The figures are dire when one considers that about 60 percent of amphibians are endemic to the sub-continent. The documentary throws up behavioral facts hitherto unknown to science, documenting for the first time the entire life cycle of the highly endangered, rare purple frog that emerges from the underground for just one day of the year to breed.
“India conservation policy focuses on big cats and mammals. So the idea, therefore, is to pronounce the Purple frog as an ‘umbrella species’ much like the tiger so that the habitat as well as other species, living in the same diversity, can be indirectly protected. Unless we act quickly, amphibian species will continue to disappear, resulting in irreversible consequences to the planet’s ecosystems and to humans. When we save the frogs, we are protecting all our wildlife, our resources, our ecosystems, our planet and ultimately all humans,” the directors said in a statement.
Beautifully shot in the rainforests of India every sequence leaves the viewer awestruck by how little we know about these delightful creatures. In the land of tigers, rhinos and elephants, amphibians of India are croaking for our attention. Told in an easy lyrical way, the filmmakers hope to draw attention to fossorial creatures that seldom receive conservation attention. The film is an ode to amphibians it is also a plea to save them. There is hope, while some species are adapting to changes in their habitat, others can be protected with simple management interventions, provided we show we care for life in the undergrowth.
The Bedi Brothers; Ajay & Vijay Bedi are the third generation of wildlife filmmaker and photographer in a family that has a long history of expertise in this highly specialized field. They are youngest Asians to have won the Green Oscar for their films and also the only Indians to have won a nomination at the television highest awards at Emmy Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for their film “Cherub of the Mist”, based on highly endangered Red Panda.
Bedi brothers along with scientists working in the area, have also submitted a proposal to Kerala government for making Purple Frog a state frog which would help boost its conservation. “The purple frog is considered an important species globally and it is endemic to Kerala and we believe that the Purple frog can be an ideal ambassador for the ecosystem that makes up the Western Ghats,” the directors said.
“The Secret Life of Frogs” will be screened at 7th Woodpecker International Film Festival on November 30, 2019, 4:30 pm at Siri Fort Auditorium.