Short Film Showcase Q&A: Protecting the Siberian Tiger’s Last Home

Rangers in eastern Russia are working tirelessly to protect the Ussuriysky Nature Reserve, which is under threat from logging and poaching. This nature sanctuary in Zapovednik, Russia, is home to some of the last remaining Siberian tigers in the region. Filmmaker Emmanuel Rondeau interviews some of the men fighting to save the largest and most powerful species of big cat. I spoke with Emmanuel about the making of Zapovednik.

How did you hear about the Zapovednik featured in your film?

Zapovednik means “reserve” in Russian. 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 Kirilovich Kotlyar, the director of the Ussurisk Zapovednik, and this is how it started. Andre is a very intelligent and dedicated person and we immediately connected.

What drew you to this subject/region?

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; —> Read More