‘All That Breathes’: Delhi’s bird saviors become the subject of a hit documentary film
A small flock of ducks is a picture of tranquillity for Anil, a volunteer in the Delhi’s Nature and Wildlife Conservation Department. But that tranquillity is shattered the day he finds an injured sparrow with its head smashed and feathers peeling off in a drain. The bird appears to be “touched” and “unresisting” as he cradles it in his arms.
Anil, a 25-year-old IAS aspirant turned volunteer, immediately takes it to the Wildlife Institute of India — an organisation where volunteer veterinarians work in the field in the field. But the institute says it has no records of injuries to sparrows, let alone one with this kind of injury.
The institute refuses to even take the bird to a vet for a proper examination. So Anil drives to the National Capital Region’s bird sanctuary in Bandra to bring it in, but when he approaches the house, the volunteer comes rushing out and locks him out.
When Anil finally breaks through the gate, the volunteer comes running out with a “silly grin” on his face, and hands him a piece of paper with the registration number of the bird.
And this is when Anil realises something. “I didn’t understand the significance of this,” he later confides. “There’s a huge difference between this bird and a duck. And if it’s not a duck, then it’s something else.”
A passerine bird with wings, which is more closely related to a penguin than a duck, is what Anil found.
In fact, this small bird with so much potential is on the brink of becoming a bona fide celebrity. The world’s first documentary on the sanctuary — A Bird in Delhi’s Nature Conservancy’s Sanctuary — has just been released. The film has already been telecast on the BBC in the UK. And when it’s aired here, people are promised to be “shocked, amazed, and inspired to care for our environments”.
It’s a huge step for an artiste like Anil. Anil, whose real name is Amit Kumar Singh, is not quite sure if the documentary will help him get a job as a naturalist.
“I am trying to get a job in the field of wildlife conservation. But right now I am