Wildlife Service Awards (2009)
For dedicating his life to the protection of wild nature through the use of cinematography and for his courage and determination in producing films – with or without sponsorships – that have influenced policy and saved endangered species.
Having grown up in the shadow of the world famous Nairobi National Park, Kenya, protecting wildlife came as naturally to Mike Pandey as breathing. His cinematic awakening began at the age of seven when he was gifted a Kodak Browning Box camera by an uncle. Trained and educated in the U.K. and U.S., he returned to India to “make conservation and wildlife films capable of bringing about change.” Over three decades, Pandey’s films have undoubtedly worked magic. ‘Shores of Silence’ in particular was directly responsible for getting whale sharks placed on Schedule I of India’s Wildlife (Protection) Act and ‘The Last Migration – Wild Elephant Capture in Sarguja’ and ‘Vanishing Giants’ helped put an end to the cruel and destructive practice of elephant capture. Acutely aware of the power of film, he has put together an incredible 600 films including the popular television series Earth Matters on DD National and Khullam Khulla both of which succeeded in bringing conservation out of the realm of environmental jargon and into the living rooms of ordinary Indians. He has won three Wildscreen Panda Awards that are considered to be the world’s Green Oscars but in his words: “The only real reward I seek for the work I do is to see wildlife and wild habitats a little more secure.”