Cameratrap picture of Amur tiger made by
Emmanuel Rondeau in Ussiriisk Nature Reserve.
A shot from "Zapovednik" documentary
National Geographic video channel recently announced a new documentary on Amur tiger conservation issues made by Emmanuel Rondeau. We decided to accompany this with a short introduction by Dale Miquelle director of WCS Russia about his acquaintance with Emmanuel. We offer you to watch this short video and also find excerpts from an interview of Emmanuel taken by Rachel Link from National Geographic.
Introduction by Dale Miquelle:
Almost every month I receive inquiries from photographers and would-be filmmakers wanting to come to the Russian Far East to film/photograph tigers and/or leopards. However, when confronted with the difficulties of working here (unlike India, tigers and leopards are nearly impossible to observe in the wild) most of the interest goes stone-cold. Emmanuel Rondeau was different from the start. He had already done his homework, and was fully aware of the difficulties, but was still intent on trying his hand at both photographing and filming Amur tigers and leopards. Armed with his own special equipment, he set out remote cameras and video equipment – first in Kedrovaya Pad (part of the newly created Land of the Leopard National Park) and obtained some startlingly beautiful portraits of the critically endangered Amur leopard. In his second season, he turned his focus to tigers in Ussuriskii Zapovednik – a small but beautiful reserve that holds some of the highest densities of Amur tigers in the world. The result is a magnificent short film portraying not only the tiger, but the people committed to saving it. Unlike other film groups, which often bring in a western “personality” to convey information to the public, Emmanuel insisted on focusing on the local heros who are on the frontline conserving tigers. The result is an honest and gripping account of the challenges and successes of trying to preserve one of the last great predators on earth.
Quotes from the interview of Emmanuel Rondeau by Rachel Link from National Geographic:
© From the personal archives of Emmanuel Rondeau
Rangers in eastern Russia are working tirelessly to protect the Ussuriskii State Nature Reserve, which is under threat from logging and poaching. This nature sanctuary or Zapovednik is home to some of the last remaining Siberian tigers in the region. I interviewed some of the men fighting to save the largest and most powerful species of big cat.
Six months before shooting the film, I had worked for two months on a photo story about Amur leopards, the most endangered species of big cat. This work had been done in another reserve in the same region of Russia, the Kedrovaya Pad Zapovednik, now part of the newly created Land of Leopard National Park. During the many weeks I spent walking on the trails of the reserve, I came across many marks and tracks of tigers and I swore to myself that I would come back to do a project on this fascinating species. After that, I spoke with Dale Miquelle, director of WCS Russia, who put me in touch with Andre Kirillovich Kotlyar, the director of the Ussuriskii Zapovednik, and this is how it started. Andre is a very intelligent and dedicated person and we immediately connected.
Ussiriisk Nature Reserve rangers check tiger tracks
A shot from "Zapovednik" documentary
I think I have always wanted to do a story on Siberian (or Amur) tigers. As the voiceover says in the film, the species is the most intense representation of the wild; they just completely incarnate the idea of power and wilderness. So a conflict between man and tiger really is a conflict between man and the entire natural world. Tigers are not a little pet we can put in a box; a single male needs about 1,000 square kilometers of pristine forest and hunts about 50 deer per year.
Because the taiga is not easy to deal with (temperature, travel with snow), the shoot took two months, which is very long for a 17-minute documentary. I think the best moments were when we were following tiger tracks in the snow, which happened quite regularly, even sometimes close to the village or on the road. Tigers don’t need to be seen—you really feel their presence. The whole forest feels different. This is a strange feeling and one I will never forget.The best way to help the rangers of the Ussuriskii Zapovednik right now is through Wildlife Conservation Society Russia, a unit managed by Dale Miquelle, an American who has been living in this area for many years. I strongly encourage everyone to donate something for tiger conservation; I know that Dale’s team will have real use of it.
You can watch the film "Zapovednik" right here on our website or follow the link at the National Geographic website.
Original interview by Rachel Link.
Website of Emmanuel Rondeau.