‘Pallom Oru Jeevabhayam’, Jayesh Padichal’s documentary, maps the biodiversity of rock pools in Kasaragod
Jayesh Padichal’s documentary explains why the rock pools and the ecosystem have to be protected
A trickle of crystal clear water seeps by way of cracks in the laterite hill and tumbles into the sunshine, finally flowing with a whole lot of streams dashing by way of the hills until it merges with quite a few tributaries to type rivers in North Kerala. The streams additionally feed pure ponds in the laterite, that are fashioned throughout the monsoon when rainwater will get collected in depressions. Called ‘pallom’ in Malayalam, these rocky ponds and moist landscapes help a novel ecosystem that’s wealthy in wildlife.
“As a wildlife enthusiast, photographer and filmmaker, I have been observing the change in seasons and life in and around the many such water bodies in the region. As the landscape is rapidly changing, I wanted to document the life supported by the water systems in these regions. That is why I made Pallom Oru Jeevabhayam (Pallom – An Ark of Life),” says Jayesh Padichal, who has directed and filmed the documentary.
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Jayesh used to work as an autorickshaw driver until his deep curiosity in nature and images turned him right into a shutter bug and filmmaker. “Camps conducted by Payyannur-based Society for Environmental Education in Kerala helped me learn more about the environment and how each species is important for the health of the ecosystem,” says Jayesh.
Four years in the making, the 29-minute movie focusses on the biodiversity that’s nurtured by the pallom and its environment. As it flows, the streams nourish sacred groves (kavu) and woods (kananam), that are pure habitats for all kinds of species equivalent to birds, butterflies, frogs, fish, small reptiles, jackals and wild canine, some of that are endemic to the area. This historical area is claimed to have attracted nomads and their herds of cattle from the Deccan plateau resulting from the abundance of water.
Kammadam kavu, the greatest sacred groove in Kerala at over 60 acres, which is wealthy in organic range, lies in Kasaragod. The fragile ecosystem relies on the many shallow and deep ponds in the rocks and the streams that stream when the monsoon retains its date with the Western Ghats.
Captivating frames of the life round the pallom has completely different species of birds breeding, nesting and feeding. Migratory birds like the uncommon White ibis make a splash whereas bull frogs and amphibians strike up a nocturnal jam session that goes on by way of the night time.
“Some of these water bodies dry up in summer. In 2016, the rains failed and I saw hundreds of animals perish as the water levels went down. The migratory little grebe reaches these pools to nest and breed. The eggs are laid in nests built in the water and by September, the fledglings are ready to leave the nest. When the water vanished, I saw jackals feeding on the fledglings. Many animals perished that summer,” remembers Jayesh.
In the midst of picturesque frames, Jayesh exhibits how the pristine setting is getting polluted when somewhat grebe builds a nest utilizing water vegetation, mud and plastic baggage floating on the water.
When the floods of 2018 devastated many districts of Kerala, Jayesh says that Kasaragod was not affected resulting from the pure contour of the land that prevented flooding and landslips. However, the documentary is a wake-up name because it exhibits the reddish laterite hills being demolished with out bearing in mind the results on the setting. Plastics of every kind clog water our bodies.
“Although I am extremely worried about the drastic changes in the landscape, I did not want my film to become a dry documentation of climate change. That I why I chose to document the varied life the pallom supports and how the food chain and life cycle of several species are disturbed when the landscape gets altered,” he explains.
Jayesh rues that not many are conscious of the existence of palloms. “As the monsoon sets in, the ponds overflow and that is when the Puntius (a kind of freshwater fish) swims against the flow to breed in the ponds. It is known as Oothakayattam in Malayalam. I shot in all the seasons to show how the changes in nature affects living organisms. During the time of Onam, the hills are carpeted with blue bladderworts. Each season brings in significant changes in the surroundings,” he says.
With a poetic script and narration by environmental activist and writer E Unnikrishnan, Pallom Oru Jeevabhayam has been screened for festivals and a number of other main teams of environmentalists. Produced beneath the banner of Ecofolks, the documentary is being launched on June 5 (World Environment Day) on ROOTS OTT.