Manas: Return of the Giants wins at International Elephant Film Festival

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Young Indian one-horned rhino
Manas National Park was destroyed by a two-decade war, resulting in an almost complete loss of wildlife. With the help of scientists and armed rangers the animals are slowly returning, but Manas needs all of the giants back if it has any chance of recovering its former glory.

We are very proud that our second film Manas: Return of the Giants, produced with Kosmik Global, has won the prize for best Asian elephant film at the International Elephant Film Festival at the UN Headquarters in New York.

In 2005, India’s Bodo rebellion ended after nearly two decades of strife. While the human casualties were being counted, the resulting loss of animal life in Manas National Park appeared absolute.

This was a catastrophe for science and the natural world. Manas wasn’t just any national park; it was a World Heritage Site, recognised as an important centre of biodiversity – containing many species that are either extinct elsewhere or declining rapidly.

However, in 2010, a camera trap project revealed something extraordinary was happening. Manas’ wildlife was returning.

With specially granted access to Manas, day or night, we had a unique opportunity to record these extraordinary events in a new way. Still wary of humans, most of the animals only become truly relaxed at night. This is when we encounter tigers, black panthers, herds of buffalo and elephants living almost as they had always done.

Despite most of the poachers leaving Manas, at night an element of danger still exists. The elephants haven’t forgotten their recent history, smashing camera traps, charging vehicles, and besieging observation towers they pose a real threat to locals who have disrupted their ancient migration paths.

The story reveals a new threat to the future of Manas, a tree threatening to take over its grasslands. Can the future of Manas be secured? Perhaps with the complete return of all of Manas’ endangered giant animals: the wild water buffalo, the gaur, the one horned rhino and the Asian elephant, Manas will once again return to its former glory.