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Unique documentary "Man of Earth" to premiere on snow leopard day

22 october 2020
On October 23—the Snow Leopard Day—WWF-Russia and Smotri Mail.ru will present their documentary "Man of Earth". To make the documentary, the Fund's celebrity ambassadors Elena Letuchaya and Mitya Fomin traveled to Altai to take part in efforts to preserve the snow leopard, the most mysterious big cat on the planet.

The film is premiering today at Mail.ru's platform Smotri. Apart from that, the Mail.ru team has prepared a special logo to put it on the main page instead of the classic one on Snow Leopard Day.

The documentary features WWF-Russia's celebrity ambassadors Mitya Fomin and Elena Letuchaya traveling to one of Russia's most peculiar and remote locations, the Altai Mountains, to experience first-hand what it means to work to preserve one of the plant's rarest cats—snow leopard. Their route ran through the Sailyugemsky National Park located high up in South Siberia's mountains, at the border with China and Mongolia. 

For a few days, the ambassadors adopted the role of inspectors and researchers who usually take part in WWF-Russia's raids and expeditions. Away from civilization, Elena and Mitya traced the Altai mountain sheep, or argali, participated in a snow leopard census, worked in the hot sun and biting wind that knocked them off their feet, and experiences a real summer snowfall in the mountains. The Fund's celebrity ambassadors endured all hardships of a field trip. They cut wood, brought in water, traced rare predators, and checked camera traps. They also talked to Altai chabans (herders) and learned how former poachers were turned into guardians of the snow leopard.

The film is shot in the reality format. It combines the features of a documentary with its educational content, compelling stories, and magnificent views and a fun travel show with lively dialogs, a simple narrative about serious topics, and good jokes.

Throughout the expedition, camera staff worked nearly round the clock to convey a maximum of the participants' lively emotions and make viewers sympathize with them by showing how hard life is for them and what hard work they do. Another goal was to show what the Fund's work looks like in reality and give everyone a chance to view wild nature.

"While on the trip, we talked a lot with locals and staff and biologists of the Sailyugemsky National Park. Every day, they make enormous efforts to preserve each snow leopard and create conditions for it to survive! The work these people do is heroic," says Elena Letuchaya.
"We saw tracks of the snow leopard and enjoyed photos taken by camera traps," says Mitya Fomin. "We used a special app to systemize and trace any signs of animal presence in the wild, such as tracks, scratch marks, urine marks, and scat. On our rounds, we saw plenty of birds; once, we met a whole flock of argalis!"

The project's primary goal is to inspire people and engage them in solving environmental problems together with WWF-Russia. Another goal is to help people see that all living things on the planet are tightly intertwined, realize that they are part of all irreversible changes on Earth. "We are the first generation to understand that we are killing our planet. Perhaps we are also the last one that can change that," this is the message that authors of the documentary send to their viewers.

"The world is vulnerable, and so are nature and animals. Whether we like it or not, WE are the ones responsible for the plant," says Katerina Lagoda, director and producer with Diagonal11. "Decades of ruthless exploitation of everything that lives are taking their toll, and we can see it every day. Each organism is part of a huge system that has lately been malfunctioning. Living in large cities, we fail to realize that every action we make has consequences. That is why the Person of the Earth project was created. It allows us to experience a different reality with the participants, feel the connection between all living things, and see what's going on outside our daily lives. The film is dedicated to snow leopards. There are only a few dozens of them left in Altai! While their fur is sold brutally, we will be rolling into a dark abyss. I would very much like the viewers to feel their involvement and, most importantly, the need to take part in saving animals and nature. Thank you WWF-Russia for the opportunity to create such powerful projects!"

"The film aims to show different attitudes towards nature in a person from a big city and a resident of a remote village who lives with it side by side," says Dmitry Gorshkov, Director of WWF-Russia. "Civilization brought us and nature apart. We forget increasingly often that preservation of such animals as the snow leopard, Amur tiger, or leopard allows saving not only habitats of many other species but also our own home. Hopefully, the film will help us feel that we are responsible for those remote yet vital locations of our country."

As part of the premiere run, Mail.ru will be raising funds for WWF-Russia to protect the snow leopard at its Dobro platform. First of all, anti-poaching inspector teams need to be provided with modern equipment to work in the harsh mountain environment where the snow leopard lives. This includes photo and video camera traps to be installed at deer trails and take pictures of both snow leopards and poachers, which helps to save the animal from deadly snare loops and leghold traps.

About the snow leopard

The snow leopard (or ounce) is one of the rares and least studied big cats on the planet. Today, there are between 70 and 90 snow leopards living in Russia. The man threat to the species is poaching—for their fur, in revenge for cattle they attack, or when they are caught in snare loops. The snow leopard is WWF-Russia's priority species, and its preservation is crucial for the integrity of the whole ecosystem in the Altai-Sayan region.    

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