Investigative film Tigers and Humans presented in Moscow

Investigative film Tigers and Humans presented in Moscow

30 August 2017

Report by RIA Novosti.


On 29 August, the Moskva Cinema hosted the premiere of the film Tigers and Humans. The event marked Amur Tiger Day in Russia and was attended by Konstantin Chuichenko, chair of the Amur Tiger Centre Supervisory Board, and other honoured guests.


The investigative film focuses on the reasons why humans keep killing Amur tigers. Since olden times, people in the Far East – 95 percent of the tiger’s habitat – have venerated this great animal. Indigenous peoples, such as the Udege, Nanai and Oroch, considered the large cat their progenitor, the incarnation of their ancestors’ spirit. They worshipped the tiger and never tried to hurt it so as not to bring trouble upon themselves and their relatives.


Documentary director Sergei Yastrzhembsky in his Tigers and Humans looks for the real reasons why people keep killing the rare cat, and conducts an investigation immersing himself into the daily routine of the two opposing parties: rangers and poachers.


Humans are the tiger’s main problem


The 2015 Amur tiger count showed that there are some 540 animals living in the Far East. That’s a big number, especially if compared to the 1940s, when there were only 40 of them. The Amur Tiger Centre has played an important role in increasing the population. The centre was founded in 2013 at the initiative of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Geographical Society.


“Since the establishment of the Amur Tiger Centre, we have done a lot to protect the Amur tiger. First of all, we have cracked down on the criminal supply of tiger derivatives. And now we have decided to tackle the demand as well. This idea is reflected in the film,” Konstantin Chuichenko said, speaking before the premiere of Tigers and Humans.


Mr Chuichenko also thanked the employees of hunting supervision departments who protect the wild cat. Rangers protect the environment every day and take a risk when they go into the forest to counteract armed poachers. On Amur Tiger Day, the Amur Tiger Centre will unveil a monument dedicated to this dangerous profession in Ussuriysk. The monument will be named Ussuri Taiga Keepers.


Combating smuggling


Tiger bones are used to make “healing” wine. Tigers’ coats are believed to bring well-being, and their meat is a delicacy. Tiger parts are used to make potions, concoctions and powders that are believed to have medicinal qualities. The recent survey by the Amur Tiger Centre put in question these traditions common in China. The main idea of the film is that using such products is immoral.


As Mr Chuichenko said, the preliminary results of the study showed that tiger derivatives are not more valuable than those taken from common and domestic animals.


Crime does not have a nationality


Poachers kill 20 Amur tigers each year. Four years ago, the number exceeded 50 tigers. The Amur Tiger Centre and hunting supervision departments managed to lower the number. But the problem remains, and it must be solved. The film Tigers and Humans is aimed at showing the invisible fight that the government and law enforcement agencies wage against illegal killing of Amur tigers.


Sergei Aramilev, director of the Far Eastern branch of the Amur Tiger Centre, who took part in creating the film, is confident that the large cats get killed solely for commercial profit. “Groups that are engaged in illegal hunting of the Amur tiger and its derivatives are Russian and Chinese citizens who capitalise on Chinese people’s superstitions about the benefits of tiger parts and their healing qualities. There is a superstition that tigers that live in captivity are less valuable for that purpose than the wild ones,” Mr Aramilev said. He believes that poaching is a social phenomenon and cannot be eliminated completely; however, law enforcement agencies have to combat it every day.


Preserving the Amur tiger for future generations


This is what the Amur Tiger Centre aims to do. Its goal is to increase the tiger population. “Programme documents set a goal of reaching 700 animals by 2021. This number would be comfortable both for nature and people. We can do it, for we have an effective team, friends and sponsors,” Mr Chuichenko said.


The centre also plans to take up protecting other threatened animals. “We are currency focusing on the Amur tiger, but in the future, maybe will think about other animals too,” Mr Chuichenko said, adding that the Amur Tiger Centre has significantly improved its environmental and education activity, with Sergei Yastrzhembsky’s film Tigers and Humans being a good case in point.