5th GREEN GUARD AWARD
MEDIA REPORTING ON WILDLIFE CAUSES
Article 'Surrendering the Last Frontier' published in OPEN MAGAZINE on January 21,2010
RECIPIENT : Mr. Jay Mazoomdaar, Freelance Journalist New Delhi
HIS PEN HEALS PAIN
by Dharmendra Khandal
In India, tiger conservation has assumed a unique dimension with efforts from
myriad quarters including media at various levels. The monitoring mechanism has
been corrected and a scientific methodology has been implemented in order to
arrive at more realistic conclusions One such messiah from media is Mr. Jay
Mazoodaar, an environmental journalist whose writings have made a difference
in policy changes in India’s environmental scenario. Following the lines, Project
Tiger has been converted into National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
This drastic change in attitude was rooted in the exposure of the grave issues at Sariska Tiger Reserve
in 2005, where Tiger had gone locally extinct. In a mission apocalypse, Jay Mazoomdaar 's
investigative reportage in Indian Express woken up the Nation that there was not a single
tiger left in Sariska. Government agencies tried utmost to establish that the tigers simply
migrated by climbing up the mountains or went into hiding somewhere in the forest! The finding
led to the setting up of national Tiger Task Force and subsequent amendment of wildlife protection
act (1972), besides upgrading the Project Tiger to the status of a National Tiger Conservation Authority
and creation of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau to tackle wildlife crime in India, reaching the highest
political spectrum in the country. For the Sariska exposure, Mazoomdar was conferred the International Press
Institute Award in 2006.
He brought to the fore vital environmental issues not just to make readers aware of them, but also to trigger a
change in the situation. As a corrective measure, a distressed government even sent Ranthambhore tigers to repopulate
Sariska Tiger Reserve. Jay discovered and reported again in 2007 that the tigers sent there were siblings and
that would adversely affect their gene pool, an exercise ironically, carried out under the guidance of the
Wildlife Institute of India! The story forced the NTCA to intervene. The next set of tigers was studied for
gene pool variation before their relocation to Sariska. A highway was being planned through the Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, and the court had set an
amicus curie to give an opinion on the project, which did get an approval. However, Jay choose to expose
the impending doom with facts and figures through ‘Surrendering the Last Frontier’
an article in ‘Open Magazine’,
that underlined the fact that Pench Tiger Reserve was threatened by the proposed highway NH7 as part of national
Golden Quadrangle scheme. The highway would have destroyed the connectivity between Pench and Kanha TRs.
He mentioned how amicus curie Harish Salve misquoted the recommendations of Central Empowered Committee at
the Supreme Court. The advisory body CEC revoked its decision and the construction was stopped. The members
further said that the amicus curie’s note submitted before the court should be considered as ‘never submitted’.
As an impact, Salve offered to quit the case.
Apart from writing, Jay also makes wildlife films. His latest, THE HUNTED, had the confessions of more than a dozen
poachers, who were out on bail. Jay managed to get them to speak out about many grave issues on camera. Every story
he writes has an impact, every shot he shoots with the camera is a narrative of its own. Jay’s investigations have
hit the bull’s eye of vested interests, inviting serious threats for his life time and again.
This freelance journalist selflessly brings out issues to public domain, and never allows personal agenda to take precedence.
“Someone has to write and focus attention on environmental issues in India because we are dependent on a healthy
environment for our own survival. The Tiger is only one of the apex species on which the health of an ecosystem
depends. This animal is found in most of India’s best protected forests so it is important to save the animal
to preserve greenery that is essential for human existence in this country,” Jay Mazoomdar states.
Born in Kolkata, Jay, now 40, is one of the few journalists who has done award winning reporting combined with editorial work at national desks and abroad. They include Times of India, Hindustan Times, Economic Times, New Indian Express, OPEN magazine, Tehelka, Down to Earth, BBC Wildlife, Anandabazar Patrika and Indian Express. Jay quite his full time newspaper job in 2006 to work independently on various issues, principally environmental ones. Jay’s films have been broadcast on National Geographic, Doordarshan and NDTV. Some of his major writings and achievements are enunciated beneath :
2007 : Wrote an article on Sanjiv Chaturvedi, an IFS officer who exposed wrongdoings in the government of BS Hooda, the Haryana Chief Minister.
2008 : Made ‘Pushed to Kill’, a film on conflict between man and leopards due to translocation efforts by the forest department, was awarded at the CMS Vatavaran Film Festival in 2009.
2009 : Published stories on Sariska Tiger relocation entitled ‘The Genetic Story’ and ‘Conservation : The New Killer’ questioning policies involved in Tiger translocation and management efforts in Sariska Tiger Reserve.
2010 : Wrote an article called ‘Surrendering the Last Frontier’ in OPEN magazine . Jay’s report led Salve to admit the mistake and he offered to quit from the case.Jay then wrote an article on the case entitled ‘Salve beats a hasty retreat.'
2011 : Article on hand raised cats killing people in Karnataka.
2012 : Wrote an article on land grabbing in Corbett Tiger Reserve entitled ‘Corbett Now on Sale.’