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Premiere of Pietersen’s docu on Kaziranga rhinos today
SIVASISH THAKUR

MVM students with Pietersen in the documentary.
 GUWAHATI, Sept 21 - To mark the World Rhino Day tomorrow, i.e., September 22, Nat Geo Wild (National Geographic channel) will be telecasting Save This Rhino – India featuring cricketing icon Kevin Pietersen who shot the documentary in the wilds of Kaziranga National Park and its surrounding areas. Cricketer-turned-conservationist Pietersen, who had also captained England, arrived in Kaziranga on March 3 with the entire team of Nat Geo Wild to work on the documentary.

 Four students of the city-based (Silpukhuri, Guwahati) Maharishi Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School – Sabique Hasan Ahmed (Class X), Abhinanda Rupa Mahanta (Class X), Pratiti Sharma (Class IX) and Pritamjit Sinha (Class VIII) – also got the privilege to be a part of the film and work with the celebrated cricketer. Sharing his experience with The Assam Tribune, Pritamjit termed it as an amazing stint during which he along with his three co-students interacted closely with Pietersen and observed the conservation practices – including the involvement of the local communities – at the acclaimed rhino-land.

“It was an enriching experience for the four of us. Pietersen was very friendly and his deep sense of commitment to conservation fascinated and inspired us. He also mingled freely with the local villagers in his bid to enhance his understanding of the problems and prospects of Kaziranga. We believe that the documentary would promote the interests of Kaziranga in particular and wildlife conservation in general before a global audience,” Pritamjit said.

He added that the students of the local Diphlu Pathar High School keenly participated in the making of the documentary and enjoyed interacting with Pietersen.

On the selection process for the short film, Pritamjit said that out of around 20 shortlisted students from his school, four were finally selected for the film on the basis of an interview with a Nat Geo official.

He also thanked Manas Das, a former Maharishi school student and currently associated with National Geographic channel.

During the shooting, Pietersen, who runs an initiative – SORAI (Save Our Rhino in Africa India) – for preservation and protection of Rhino in Africa and India, was all praise for Kaziranga’s successful conservation efforts.

“The conservation efforts being carried out in Kaziranga are so successful that the effort can be an example for the rest of the world. With a smile, all people here are dedicated to save the rhino, for which it has become the iconic symbol of Assam. Everybody in Kaziranga is ready to help and cooperate for conservation of wildlife,” he said.

He also posted a tweet: “India is going to be so proud of the beauty we show off in their state of Assam. This is one stunning learning experience.”

Synchronizing with the World Rhino Day tomorrow, the documentary will be premiered in the Nat Geo Wild channel at 1 pm with a repeat telecast at 9 pm.

State Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya also took to Twitter today to inform viewers about the much-awaited documentary’s premiere, while sharing the trailer of the documentary.

The film mainly focuses on the need to create awareness amongst all to conserve the one-horned rhino – the pride of Assam and the flagship species of Kaziranga. The objective behind the involvement of students was to sensitize the student community on the urgent need of conservation and to spread the message among young minds to save the vulnerable species from extinction.

The first of the documentary series on rhino saw Pietersen follow the fortunes of Arthur, an orphaned calf who was left severely injured when poachers killed his mother inside South Africa’s Kruger National Park. With an average of 32 rhinos slain within the park every month, Arthur’s story is sadly all too familiar, but innovative solutions are now being tested in the wild to help protect the rhino population.

The latest instalment in the series, Save This Rhino – India, follows the experiences of Pietersen as he delves deep into the conservation efforts of the endangered one-horned rhinos in Kaziranga National Park which has been able to script a successful rhino conservation saga.

Meanwhile, many who’s who praised the efforts of the former English cricketer and said they were looking forward to the documentary.

“Good luck @KP24 looking forward to seeing it... Your work for #savetherhino is so commendable and admirable. More power to you,” tweeted actor Abhishek Bachchan.

Commentator Ayaz Memon said, “Fantastic @KP24, more power to your commitment to the cause.”

Actor Suniel Shetty said, “Love your passion and your commitment to the project brother... more power to you...”

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