OSCAR® WINNER ROSS KAUFFMAN’S TIGERLAND EXPLORES TWO PASSIONATE ACTIVISTS SEPARATED BY FIFTY YEARS WHO MADE IT THEIR MISSION TO SAVE THE BELOVED AND OFTEN MISUNDERSOOD MAJESTICAL TIGERS
The Film Produced by Oscar® winner Fisher Stevens
Debuts March 30 at 9pm ET/PT on Discovery
with a Pre-Premiere on Discovery Go on March 23
One of the earth’s most majestic, powerful, and awe-inspiring creatures, the tiger has proven over the millennia to carry both literal and symbolic power. In the last century, however, the mighty animal has struggled to survive, with human civilization often to blame for the startling decrease in population: where there were 100,000 wild tigers spread across the Asian continent in 1900, today fewer than 4000 are left in the wild.
Directed by Academy®-Award winning filmmaker Ross Kauffman (“Born into Brothels,”) and produced by Oscar® winner Fisher Stevens (“The Cove”) TIGERLAND tells the stories of two remarkable men, born a generation and a world apart, who through sheer force of will and determination dedicated their lives to altering the fate of the tiger. TIGERLAND premieres on SATURDAY, MARCH 30 AT 9PM ON DISCOVERY. The official Sundance Film Festival Selection documentary will be available to audiences early on MARCH 23 ON DISCOVERY GO.
Often referred to as “Tiger Man,” Kailash Sankhala spent the second half of the 20th Century trying to raise national and global awareness about the dwindling numbers of tigers in and around his native India. A sacred and feared animal in traditional Indian culture, the colonial British in the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries were avid about tiger hunting as a sport. Even after the British occupation ended in 1947, tigers continued to be hunted for tourist sport, to the point where Sankhala estimated in 1969 that fewer than 2,000 were left in India. Later in the 20th century, the species was still at risk because it had become a black-market commodity; tiger body parts are considered to have healing properties in eastern medical traditions.
TIGERLAND revisits the story of Sankhala, often as seen through the eyes of his grandson, Amit, a conservationist who has taken up Kailash’s mission; and Jai Bhati, Amit’s nephew and Sankhala’s great-grandson, a pre-teen who spends his spare time in the forests that his forefather felt called to protect.
For the last two decades, Russian-born Pavel Fomenko has been working to save the Amur (“Siberian”) tiger in the Russian Far East, where a thriving population that dates back centuries has also been reduced to a critical few hundred due to a rise in illegal poaching since the USSR broke apart. A life-long hunter in his Russian homeland, Fomenko explains how, “only a hunter understands how much he is losing from losing the wild nature. One day he returns and the forest is no longer there.”
TIGERLAND follows Fomenko through his complex role as the Director of Rare Species Conservation for World Wildlife Fund in Russia. In addition to his heartbreaking forensic analysis of dead animal corpses to prosecute poachers, , Fomenko and his colleagues embark on dangerous missions to humanely capture, tag, and release tigers who roam out of their protected areas, to better guard the species and grow the population.
In Russia, the work of Fomenko is measured up-close when reports come in of a tiger who has attacked dogs in a rural village. After the female is captured, Fomenko and his colleagues spend weeks trying to find her two tiger cubs who are left out on their own and must be reunited with their mother, so they can be tagged for future protection and released into a protected forest far from the human population. Even in the face of near-tragedy, Fomenko remains determined to save the species, one tiger at a time if need be.
The uncompromising and stubborn Sankhala (who referred to himself as a “tiger addict”) published several books on the majesty of the tiger and the importance of the animal in the natural order of species. He eventually found a sympathetic ear in Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who embraced saving the tiger and made ecology a pillar of her political career, with the creation of protected reserves (nine at first, now grown to over 50) and a ban on tiger hunting. Sankhala succeeds in getting the Indian government to reverse a century of slaughter, and to protect wildlife habitats throughout the country.
Following the work of Fomenko, Sankhala, and their colleagues, families, and legacies, TIGERLAND is not only a harrowing examination of how thoughtlessly human civilization treats the animal kingdom, but also a stirring and inspirational call for human beings to use their power, technology, imagination, and passion to make the earth a home for all species.
Produced by RadicalMedia, TIGERLAND is part of Discovery Inc and World Wildlife Fund’s Project C.A.T. initiative, a global effort to double the population of tigers living in the wild by 2022. Launched in 2016, Project C.A.T has successfully secured nearly 2M acres of tiger habit in India and Bhutan. Now, Discovery and WWF-US, set their sights on Russia’s Bikin National Park, a habitat featured in TIGERLAND. The goal is to support tiger populations in 3.7M acres of Bikin National Park, nearly tripling Project C.A.T.’s current pledge of helping to conserve nearly 2M acres of tiger habit in India and Bhutan. Discovery is committed to fully funding the site through 2022 and will work with WWF to fundraise for the project. Discovery will match donations received through this campaign up to $250,000 through December 31, 2019.
TIGERLAND is produced for Discovery by RadicalMedia in association with Fictionless and Bloomfish Media; directed by Ross Kauffman, produced by Xan Parker, Zara Duffy and Fisher Stevens; cinematography by, Matt Porwoll and Ross Kauffman; edited by, Keiko Deguchi, A.C.E; music by, Nathan Halpern; executive producers Dave Sirulnick, Jon Kamen, Justin Wilkes, and John Hoffman. For Discovery: Jon Bardin, executive producer.