A Ficus in films : watch it grow (movie clips – part 1)

Prashanth MB

October 12, 2022

Tree at the view point in Shivanasamudra

It has been little over seven years since I pictured the lone Ficus tree at the corner of the view point at Shivanasamudra. The ficus avenue trees coming in various shapes, was quite a magnet and being much intrigued by the tree, I had spent time to click, consult a botanist and hosted the images with botanical features on the India Biodiversity Portal. Find the tree here in the link .

Picture (above): Ficus tsjakela featured on the India Biodiversity Portal

And, then came many years of dormancy. The ficus tree was yet another data point among the hundreds and thousands of pictures on portals, however the thought of having observed a tree up-close would be fresh in one’s thoughts. Earlier this year, I had chanced upon an old Kannada movie song, a number that had aged by 43 years (1979), but was still very familiar and soothing with a touch of nostalgia. Even though the lyrics and music would be fresh in our minds, the detailed visuals might be a eye opener each time we view it over the years. Here was one such instance when I noticed a tree filmed in the song and immediately knew it’s whereabouts were very close to the one I had hosted in 2015 on the portal. On closer inspection, the tree bore all resemblances of coming from the same location, next to a park bench that had lasted all the years in between each other. The shape of the trunk and leaves and its orientation made sure that I was looking at the same tree between the years. The tree was at least 45 years old going by the year during which it was filmed, until I found the tree in a much older film featured in 1971. Perhaps the tree was from the early 60s and was a slow growing Ficus tree (F.tjakhela / F.virens). Find the images of  the trees featured in the movie with the links pasted below.

Pictures (above): The lone Ficus tsjakela filmed against the backdrop of Shivansamudra falls in the songs Yeno Santosha (1979) and Illiruve (1971); Picture courtesy – Sandalwood Songs, SGV digital and KannadaFilmSongs

In the subsequent months, the observation made me share similar pictures of locations in old movies with the current day images to compare any apparent change in wildlife habitats. The slides were hosted in a talk at the Bengaluru Bird Day 2022. You will find the detailed talk here in the first hour of the programme, Bird day -2022, Youtube.

Repeat photography

An observation such as this might have little to offer to the reader other than providing brief overviews of how the tree may have responded over the years. An approximation of girth or height attained, or the value of survival in an area prone to constant landscaping changes might be assessed from such observations. However, such footage also have the value of being a surrogate for repeat photography techniques, where an observer is known to obtain photographs / footage derived from the same observational point and make assessments of changes in habitats that might be of intererst to wildlife and natural history of the place (Hammod et al 2020; Kull 2005; Bierman et al 2005; Pickard 2002; Harrison 1974). A habitat picture instead of a lone tree may offer more insights into change in vegetation between two time periods. Many such assessments may be qualitative in practice, where the measure of change can be attributed to distinct categories of gradients of change rather than obtain a quantified assessment (percentage change) that is largely possible with remote sensing techniques.

In the succeeding posts, I will be adding more footage / images  derived from movies to demonstrate the usage of stills in comparing wildlife habitat changes.


Harrison, A.. (1974). Reoccupying unmarked Camera Stations for Geological Observations. Geology. 2. 10.1130/0091-7613(1974)2<469:RUCSFG>2.0.CO;2.


Pickard, John. (2002). Assessing vegetation change over a century using repeat photography. Australian Journal of Botany. 50. 409-414. 10.1071/BT01053.


Bierman, Paul & Edu, Pbierman@uvm & Howe, Jehanna & Stanley-Mann, Elizabeth & Peabody, Michala & Hilke, Jens & Massey, Christine. (2005). Old images record landscape change through time. Gsa Today. 15. 10.1130/1052-5173(2005)015<4:OIRLCT>2.0.CO;2.


Kull, CA (2005) Historical landscape photography as a tool for land use change research. Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift – Norwegian Journal of Geography 59:253-268.


Hammond WM, Stone MEB, Stone PA. Picture worth a thousand words: Updating repeat photography for 21st century ecologists. Ecol Evol. 2020 Nov 9;10(24):14113-14121. doi: 10.1002/ece3.7001. PMID: 33391704; PMCID: PMC7771177.



Tim Hoffman, 2022. Repeat photos show change in southern African landscapes: a citizen science project. The Conversation. Published: March 7, 2022 9.22am GMT.


The repeat photography project of South African landscapes. Website accessed on 13th Oct 2022


To cite this page: 2022. A Ficus in films : watch it grow (movie clips – part 1). https://wp.me/pehmXN-D6. Accessed on 2023-03-10.

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Deepa Mohan
1 year ago

I have followed all your posts and research on this, and watched your presentation at the Bird Day on 8th Oct too. Thanks for this post, Prashanth!