More than one and half years after it was banned from India’s national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, BBC has ‘expressed regret’ for any adverse impact caused by its documentary on Kaziranga national part that led to the ban.
In February last year, British Broadcasting Corporation had aired a documentary titled Our World: Killing for Conservation, which had severely criticised the “ruthless anti-poaching policies” adopted by guards at the Kaziranga National Park in Assam. The documentary by BBC journalist Justin Rowlatt claimed that forest guards are given powers to shoot and kill, and they have become trigger happy. The documentary tried to create an impression that poachers are actually victims of conversation efforts at the UNESCO world heritage site.
Following this, BBC and Justin Rowlatt were banned from filming in India’s protected forests for five years by the government of India, effective from April 2017. Before this, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had banned them from all tiger reserves in the country for five years. The government had said that the documentary had caused “irreparable damage done to India’s reputation”, and report by BBC was grossly erroneous. The NTCA had said that BBC “projected a negative, malicious and sensational portrayal of India’s conservation success story at Kaziranga Tiger Reserve”.
Now, in a letter sent to NTCA, head of BBC’s Natural History Unit Dr Julian Hector says that they want to discuss all concerns in detail. “We, in the Natural History Unit, have observed your successful efforts in tiger conservation and are gravely concerned that the BBC documentary has made that work harder,” Dr Hector writes in the letter.
Assam forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya has said that expressing regret by such a private letter is not acceptable to Assam government. He said that BBC had humiliated Assam forest department and Kaziranga National Park at international level. Therefore, an apology also should be made publicly. “This technique of humiliating in public and apologising in private is not acceptable to the Assam Forest Department,” Suklabaidya said.