In 2014 the Animal Planet cable and satellite channel did a survey of 50,000 viewers in 73 countries to determine the world’s favourite animal.
The tiger came out on top with a hand full more votes than the ever popular dolphin. The dog, the horse ans the elephant all made it into the top 10.
Except none of the other chosen creatures on the list are now speed bred or factory farmed to be sold for its body parts.That plight is exclusive to the tiger, driven by the demand for the derivatives.
It is a story which needs to be told and understood. This is a story which involves many illegal players and transactions and as such was not easy to document. While documentaries with a wide range of ‘talking head’ experts explaining the issues are the standard approach to tell such tales, in this film we tried to get in on the ground to establish what drives the markets and where the demand is coming from. Next it became a question of infiltrating some of the corresponding trade networks to try to understand what is going on. However on various pick up film shoots it became clear that new players are entering the market and some aspects of the trade are constantly undergoing change. This necessitated more research and updating of the data and footage collected at the early stage of the project.
While, as film makers, we ended up taking a position on some of the ethical and moral implications, we do believe a basis exists for different viewpoints on the issue of captive breeding of what are meant to be wild creatures. Is mankind better off knowing that a few rhinos still exist in some stable setting or a few tigers and some cramped cages? How important is the WILD component when talking about WILDlife or Wilderness?
Will any awareness being created be turned into yet more feel good conservation projects and band aids being marketed as a cure for a patient dying of terminal cancer?
Our hope is that the documentary will stir some of these debates and above all help to take away the excuse of: “But I did not know” – especially from policy makers as well as the public which has declared the tiger as the world’s favourite creature.