Poacher: Prime Video Show’s True Story, Explained

Created by Richie Mehta, Amazon Prime’s ‘Poacher’ is an Indian crime drama series that revolves around wildlife custodians, including Indian Forest Service officers, NGO workers, police constables, and Good Samaritans, who set off on a mission to expose the largest ivory elephant ivory poaching ring in the history of India. In an attempt to track down the poachers, these forest officials and wildlife warriors put their lives on the line, emphasizing how much importance they give to wildlife.

Through the characters in ‘Poacher,’ who are portrayed by some talented Indian actors, including Nimisha Sajayan, Roshan Mathew, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Ankith Madhav, and Sooraj Pops, the show touches upon the consequences that human actions have had on wildlife preservation over the years, which is an actual issue in real life.

Poacher is Inspired By Reality But Depicted in the Form of Fiction

‘Poacher’ is a fictional tale but it draws inspiration from real-life events about the illegal poaching of ivory in India. Specifically, the creator Richie Mehta who also serves as the writer of the show, with the help of story consultant Surendra Kumar, reportedly focused on the actual events that took place in Malayattoor, Kerala, where numerous elephants were hunted and killed for the illegal trading of ivory. Previously, Richie has experience working on other projects as a writer, including ‘Delhi Crime,’ ‘I’ll Follow You Down,’ ‘Amal,’ and ‘Siddharth.’

The significance of touching upon such a crucial subject matter also meant a lot to executive producer Alia Bhatt. She stated, “Being a part of this project is such a source of pride for me and our entire team at Eternal. ‘Poacher’ is a clarion call to address the grave and heartbreaking issue of animal poaching and illegal wildlife trade. I hope that Richie’s powerful storytelling compels everyone to champion the urgent need for wildlife preservation and encourages us to embrace co-existence with all living beings.” When Richie was asked about the research process that ‘Poacher’ took by Scroll, he revealed that it went on for approximately two years, during which he met actual individuals working in the Kerala Forest Department and NGO workers from the Wildlife Trust of India.

Richie further elaborated, “Each one had a unique perspective on this case – the largest elephant poaching case in Indian history –about the life of frontline planetary health workers, and the personal and professional dangers involved. I also met with accused poachers – those currently fighting in the courts, and those who had turned witnesses for the prosecution. I would interview them (often more than once) and the environments and circumstances in which we met were often just as telling as the information they provided.” In a PTI interview, Richie revealed that he chose subjects in accordance with his conscience. He added, “…So, I’m guided by what I want to spend my time on as a human being. In this case, I wanted to spend my time with these amazing wildlife crime fighters on whom the story is based.”

During the research process and production, Richie could not help but appreciate the selflessness of all the wildlife fighters who tried to prevent the poaching of elephants for the illegal business of ivory trading. “People are willing to die for this (saving elephants). I got so moved by that. And it’s not like they’re going to get a state funeral or recognition and even if they were in front of an elephant, the elephant would likely just step on them and kill them. There’s no glory at the end of this except what your heart tells you. I’ve never experienced this type of altruism in the world, which is why I think this is worth telling,” Richie said.

By using crime and thriller as a couple of prominent devices in the Indian show, Richie sheds light on the dark world of poaching across India. He even got in touch with the Delhi-based NGO The Wildlife Trust of India and through them, he was able to talk to the wildlife crime fighters all the more. For instance, the characters portrayed by Roshan and Dibyendu are derived from actual individuals. On the other hand, Nimisha’s character was created by combining the traits of some real-life people working in the Kerala Forest department. Resonating with reality, the show also manages to raise awareness against some true-to-life poaching cases in the past across India. For instance, according to a 2019 report, the Forest Department confronted and charge-sheeted 41 different persons involved in the poaching and illegal trade.

Between 2013 and 2015, a gang of merciless poachers was reportedly responsible for killing at least 14 wild elephants in the forests of Malayattoor and Vazhachal area. For instance, reports suggest that Aikaramattom Vasu, Saji, and Kunjumon ended up hunting down nine elephants for rusks in Thundathil, Kuttampuzha, Athirappally, and Sholayar Ranges. Thus, by taking into consideration all the above-mentioned factors, it is fair to reiterate the fact that the essence of the entire show comes from real life but the tale in itself is nothing but a work of fiction.

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