Broadcast journalist, Non-Traditional Environmental Educator & Film Producer (B.Sc., M.A.)
Sangita Iyer is a highly experienced award-winning nature & wildlife journalist, an independent documentary filmmaker, and a biologist. She received the Nari Shakti Puraskar (Woman Power Award) - the highest award for women making a difference in India - from the Honorable President, Sri Pranab Mukherjee on the 2017 International Women's Day, for her courage and dedication to exposing the atrocities against Asian elephants.
She is the Director and Producer of the epic documentary Gods in Shackles that exposes the truth behind glamorous cultural festivals in the southern Indian state of Kerala where temple elephants are exploited for profit under the guise of culture and religion.
Gods in Shackles has won 10 awards, including the Best Feature Documentary Award at the Cayman Island Film Festival, and was nominated at the United Nations General Assembly by the prestigious International Elephant Film Festival (UN, CITES, Jacksonhole Film Festival).
Sangita co-founded the Bermuda Environmental Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public on environmental issues, and providing practical solutions that would foster environmental stewardship. She has worked in the media for over a decade, and until September 2008 she was one of the most familiar faces of television news on Bermuda's ABC/CBS affiliate. Given this experience, she effectively harnesses the power of sounds and images in her environmental documentary films.
Sangita was the host, executive director, and producer of the Bermuda Environmental Alliance’s six-part series, Bermuda – Nature's Jewel, which received the 2012 Bermuda National Trust award for environmental awareness and is currently being used as an educational aid in Bermuda’s schools. A four-part miniseries was featured on Discovery Channel Canada’s Daily Planet, which draws more than four million viewers.
Sangita has received numerous awards including the "Founder's Award for Leadership, Sustainability, and Personal Development" in May 2013, and the "Award of Excellence" for her Masters' thesis documentary, Connecting the Dots: television news media and climate change, at the International Film Festival for Environment, Health, and Culture in Indonesia. In 2008 Sangita was named the "Best Broadcast Journalist" by the popular Bermudian magazine, and she also received the inaugural DeForest Trimingham Award – top environmental awareness award from the Bermuda National Trust for her 13-part documentary series Enviro Shorts. The series, which was commended by the Senate and the House of Assembly, is currently being used as an educational aid in schools.
In September 2012 Sangita was one of the few Canadians selected for The Climate Reality Project training by Al Gore, which further inspired her to write for The Huffington Post. She is a public speaker and has delivered keynote speeches, made presentations in schools, universities, and government departments.
Sangita holds a Masters in Environmental Education and Communication, a B. Sc. in Biology from the University of Bombay, India, and a post-graduate Diploma in Broadcast Journalism (Dean’s Honorary Role) from Humber College Toronto (Canada). Sangita has received numerous scholarships and awards. For details on her awards visit www.godsinshackles.com
"We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise" (The Earth Charter, 2000).
Two wild elephants were sentenced behind bars last month in Kerala. Their crime? They raided the crops cultivated on a land that once belonged to these animals. One of them has been deemed a murderer,...
"It is a disgrace to the human, the most elevated being on earth, that the elephant, the biggest creature on the land, is exploited, harnessed, and tortured in captivity to such inexplicable proportio...
In the good old days, most Hindus did not eat meat, however, things changed after people from India began migrating to western countries. People can eat whatever they want, but the audaciousness of religious institutions to feed meat to a herbivorous animal, that too a cultural icon glorified as the embodiment of Lord Ganesh, is simply intolerable.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a reemerging disease in captive elephants, with increasing numbers of cases reported in the past two decades from different countries. Asia in particular houses a large population...
As animal welfare groups around the world eagerly await India's Supreme Court verdict on the petition for captive elephants filed by Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (WRRC), Ms. Suparna Baksi Ganguly, (SG) the Hon. President of WRRC weighs in on the future of India's heritage animal.
When will it stop? That's the question many of us in the animal rights movement are trying to grapple with, as the death toll of elephants in Kerala continues to rise. In just over eight months, 16 captive and five wild elephants have died due to human interference -- that is more than two elephants a month.
As expected, the release of Gods in Shackles, a culturally sensitive documentary, has angered temple authorities, owners and brokers who abuse elephants to make money. Sadly, instead of trying to right the wrong, they are denying the truth and putting out misleading information to confuse the public.
At this juncture in our planet's history it may be worth pausing and contemplating that the well-being of human species depends on the well-being of the biosphere. Earth has provided optimal conditions for life's evolution, but human activities are offsetting the balance.
Given Lucy's respiratory, arthritic, foot problems and emotional distress, it's unfair to expose Lucy to the long frigid winters, and deprive social interactions with her own kind. It's unconscionable to exploit an ailing elephant for profit under the guise of education at the Edmonton Valley Zoo.
Death and devastation of the poor and defenseless has become a cultural norm in Kerala. And even as people and elephants are dying in stampedes at an alarming rate, the masses continue to cling on to their misguided myths.
The saga of Nosey the African elephant has been escalated to The White House, as animal welfare groups renew their calls to confiscate the ailing elephant. This, after the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently renewed, Hugo Libel's license to exhibit the elephant, despite 200 Animal Welfare Act (AWA) offences and Nosey's deteriorating health.
Stories of torture, neglect, exploitation, frustration, devastation and untimely deaths of people and elephants coming out of Kerala are disheartening. Between January and mid-March Kerala has witnessed more than 216 stampedes, with three elephants and five people dead, including four mahouts and a lady -- a replica of 2015 and aligned with previous years. But people are always surprised when elephants or people die.
The harsh reality is, violations are ultimately costing the lives of poor people. Their families are suffering, elephants are suffering and it's becoming clearer now than ever before that use of elephants is a no win situation. It's time to prevent unnecessary loss of people's lives, by releasing these elephants into a sanctuary where they can roam freely.
It's paradoxical that people in Kerala mourn and light candles after elephants die; it seems like a superficial display of compassion. If they genuinely loved elephants they would revere and respect the elephants when they are alive, and stop exploiting them in festivals and temples under the guise of culture and religion.
The saga of Nosey the Circus Elephant is back in the limelight, with dissident voices getting louder. Despite nearly 200 animal welfare violations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recently renewed Hugo Liebel's license, so the ailing animal can be exploited for human entertainment, decries People for Ethical Treatment of Animals PETA.
The fate of an elephant named Thiruvambadi Ramabadhran hangs in the balance. His trunk is paralyzed. Unable to eat or drink he stands helplessly, as his handlers are engaged in their own chats. To make matters worse, he has contracted infectious foot and skin diseases, and has been placed in solitary confinement.
December is a particularly torturous season for the more than 700 elephants of Kerala, but a profitable one for their owners and brokers, with the festival season kicking off across the state. Sadly these animals are paraded even during their musth -- an annual cycle when the bulls are in their peak mating season.
India has a moral obligation to save this global treasure. But sadly, elephants are being captured illegally from the wild for the illicit ivory trade, and exploited commercially. Elephants are a keystone species, which means the survival of other species in the forest ecosystem depends on the elephants
You would expect the state forest officials to act swiftly and rescue the majestic animal immediately. But apparently that hasn't happened. In a petition submitted to the Prime Minister of India, Secretary of the Heritage Animal Task Force, Venkitachalam, has called for the Prime Minister of India to launch an investigation.
We've gathered undercover footage of Lakshmi's entire ordeal. Gods in Shackles will expose the abhorrent torture that Lakshmi tolerates every single day. Her sad story along with that of four elephants featured in our film epitomizes the pain and suffering of more than 600 elephants of Kerala, whose welfare is being compromised for profit.