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Gunjan Menon (She/her) is an independent wildlife filmmaker and writer from India. She is a National Geographic Explorer and is known for her character-driven, conservation and human interest stories. Gunjan has won multiple accolades with over 40 International awards and nominations across 15 countries so far for her work. Her non-fiction work has been seen on Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, Disney+ Hotstar, BBC Earth, along with other local Indian platforms.
Gunjan holds an MA in Wildlife Filmmaking from the University of West of England, Bristol. Her keen interest in anthropology and endangered species took her to Nepal in 2017. She trekked 12,000 feet in the Eastern Himalayas to capture the unique bond shared between an indigenous woman and wild Red Pandas in her independent short film, ‘The Firefox Guardian’. The film is critically acclaimed and was shortlisted for a student BAFTA award. It now travels to various film festivals, schools and colleges across the world, has successfully started a dialogue on ecofeminism, and continues to raise funds for red panda conservation. She is now involved with Red Panda Network’s anti-poaching work.
Gunjan wore multiple hats as an assistant director, researcher, second unit camerawoman and sound recordist on an eight-part conservation-adventure television series, ‘On the Brink’, produced by The Habitats Trust and The Gaia People which aired on Animal Planet and Discovery Channel. The show was aired on prime time and focused on stories of grassroots conservationists. She also edited the ‘Indian pangolin’ episode in the second season which currently airs on National Geographic and Disney+ Hotstar as an episode of ‘Planet Possible’.
She was a camerawoman-presenter on BBC Earth’s ‘Blue Planet II Live’ digital story, discussing community-driven conservation of olive ridley sea turtles in an Indian village. Gunjan also co-directed and edited an educational film, ‘Living with the King’, which was translated into local Indian languages to mitigate human-king cobra conflicts in sensitive rural areas. She is the author of a book on the Habitats Trust Grants which highlights the work of grassroots conservationists and frontline warriors in India.
BBC Earth’s Facebook Watch show, ‘Close Encounters’ featured Gunjan in their August 12th 2021 episode and her work has been covered in Times of India, Sanctuary Asia, several podcasts and magazines across the world. She is a TEDx Speaker, ‘Girls Who Click’ partner photographer and leads workshops for female-identifying teenagers who want to get into the field of wildlife filmmaking. ‘Nature Environment Wildlife Filmmakers (NEWF) Congress’ in South Africa invited her to talk about the ‘Role of Women in Wildlife Filmmaking’ and to conduct workshops on ‘Creating Impact With Your Phone’ and ‘Wildlife Cinematography’ in 2019. In 2020, she was a virtual cinematography mentor at the NEWF Wild Women Media Lab, an initiative to guide ten women in conservation science and media from seven countries in Africa through the process of producing a micro-film. She also served as a judge for Jackson Wild World Biodiversity Day Showcase in 2021 and is a member of their Advisory Council.
When she’s not getting bitten by leeches in a forest, Gunjan volunteers as a bat rescuer and rehabilitator and actively works to change their usual vilified perception. She also spends her time teaching children and youth about the endangered species of India. Gunjan strives to shift the limelight to lesser-known species and habitats and practices a cross-genre approach to produce action-driven content for the masses. She is the Co-founder of ‘Beyond Premieres’, an organization that supports filmmakers to create tangible impact through their art.
She is the recipient of the Jackson Wild Rising Star 2020 award and is currently working on her first feature-length film supported by the National Geographic Society.
Gunjan Menon’s Film
The Firefox Guardian
With fewer than 2500 left in the wild, Red Pandas could be at the brink of extinction due to illegal trafficking and habitat loss. In a small village in Nepal, a native woman steps up as an unconventional warrior to change the unfortunate fate of the Red Pandas in her community forest. This film takes you on a mesmerizing journey with the first female forest guardian, through remote bamboo jungles, scaling the mighty Himalayan wilderness into the hidden world of Red Pandas.
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Non-Profit supporting Red Pandas
Red Panda Network
Red Panda Network has become a world leader in efforts to protect red pandas and their habitat. We use an integrated, landscape-level approach to conservation that is built on the support and participation of local communities. Our conservation programs extend to over one million acres of forest and 50% of Nepal’s red panda range! Local communities are key to red panda conservation. We work with the people who live among red pandas to secure sustainable livelihoods and live harmoniously with local wildlife.