Bahar Dutt – Lessons Learned
A defining moment in my career was reporting on an illegal mine operating on forest land in Goa and facing a life-threatening situation, which I walked into without realising! The mining mafia blocked our way, then got the cops to slap a trespassing case on us. They would not let us go till we handed over our tapes, and tried to intimidate us. I did give them tapes – blank ones – and walked away unscathed!
There was much I learnt that day; how a system can work against anyone, even those supposedly protected by their media status. Also how one honest forest officer can help, and how the judiciary is truly our last hope (they came to our rescue on our return to Delhi in the case we filed against the mining company).
As for being a woman reporting in the field, I don’t think I have ever seen it like that. We are all here to do our job – as men or women. Perhaps the only time it hit me was while on a trek to Gangotri, where I was the only woman in a dormitory full of snoring men with smelly socks! Of course the perils of reporting on wildlife and environment are many, especially since your story may not always be the biggest of the day and Sachin Tendulkar’s haircut may get more playouts! But you are rewarded by living under open skies, close to nature… as others sit behind closed doors on laptops. I consider myself truly blessed just for that chance to be out in the open in the forest with all creatures great and small.
Wildlife biologist, intrepid journalist and committed conservationist, Bahar Dutt has been responsible for transporting environment reportage from an obtuse segment on television to prime time news space. A columnist with Live Mint, Bahar has most recently turned author with the release of her book Green Wars. She won a Sanctuary Wildlife Award in 2008.
Author: Bahar Dutt, Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXV No. 6, June 2015.