The National Tiger Conservation Authority has banned the British Broadcasting Corporation from filming in all Indian tiger reserves for five years, reported The Times of India. The step was taken after the NTCA and Environment Ministry took note of BBC’s South Asia correspondent Justin Rowlatt’s documentary on Kaziranga National Park, which highlights the government’s aggressive policy to protect endangered rhinos from poachers.
The authority has asked all chief wildlife wardens and field directors to deny filming permission to the news outlet. The NTCA issued a memorandum on Monday evening, saying that the BBC had not submitted Rowlatt’s documentary to the Environment Ministry and the Ministry of External Affairs for mandatory previewing.
On February 14, the NTCA had issued a notice against airing the programme without getting approval from the ministries. In a notice, the NTCA had threatened to cancel all future permits to BBC if the programme was not removed from various online portals with immediate effect. The documentary was aired on February 11.
The documentary, Killing for Conservation, shows that rangers are allowed to shoot people. According to Rowlatt, this shoot-at-sight policy has led to the killing of 23 people by forest guards, while 17 rhinos have been poached at the park in the past one year.
Earlier, the Environment Ministry had recommended blacklisting BBC. “They [BBC] have misrepresented facts and selectively over-dramatised interviews and old footage. They had a different agenda fuelled by certain foreign NGOs and local elements opposed to conservation. We are exploring all options including legal steps,” park director Satyendra Singh had said.
The Kaziranga National Park houses around 2,400 one-horned rhinos, or two-thirds of the world’s population of the rare animal. The park is a world heritage site and considered the most prestigious wildlife reserve in India.