This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .
The Last Tiger
The Last Tiger
A documentary exploring today's challenges in tiger conservation as tiger numbers grow and human-wildlife conflict increases.
A documentary exploring today's challenges in tiger conservation as tiger numbers grow and human-wildlife conflict increases. Read more
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .
This project is backed by a 501-C(3), meaning all donations are tax deductible, thank you!
By completing this documentary, we can bring a broader and deeper understanding of tigers to the viewership and illuminate conservation strategies. The film will foster community tolerance, and in return take steps towards coexistence that will benefit both humans and tigers.
The Last Tiger is a feature length documentary film in the making. This story follows world renowned tiger biologists as they come to the end of their career trying to protect this magnificent species.
Today, Chitwan National Park, Nepal stands as one of the only places in the world where tiger numbers are growing thanks to conservation programs that have targeted poaching and habitat loss. However, as tiger numbers have increased from near extinction to about 200 tigers, wildlife biologists face a new problem of growing incidences of human-tiger conflict around the park. Our film will feature biologists that have been shot at by poachers, attacked by tigers, gored by rhinos and elephants, and have had to face angry, scared, and mourning community members demanding they address complex dangers of human-wildlife conflict. As Harkaman and Bishnu Lama, and J.L. David Smith are coming to the end of their careers, they will reflect upon their life long dedication and the hardships they have endured to try and save this iconic species.
As their time is running out, they will have one last chance to promote awareness and understanding of tiger conservation amongst local communities and the first world. These men have faced death in the wilderness of Nepal on multiple occasions, yet they pushed aside their fears and allowed their passion for saving the tiger to dictate their lifelong work.
The decline and loss of tigers has a cascading impact on the ecosystems in which tigers reside and conversely, tigers serve as one indicator of a healthy ecosystem. Tigers are an apex predator, that help balance herbivore populations. Without the tiger, herbivores become overpopulated and degrade the forest. Many people in rural Nepal depend on the same forests tigers do for daily survival. Without the tiger's expert ecosystem regulation, local people would suffer due to degraded forests. This magnificent species as well as its unique habitat must be managed to support the forest, animals and people.
In this film, we journey with these dedicated biologists through their life-long efforts to save the true "king of the jungle" from extinction. They will attempt to convey their research and convince the world why tigers are vital to our own survival while wondering if they are too late to save them. While the human population in Nepal continues to rise, the reliance on natural resources from the jungle grows, and human-wildlife conflict grows with it. Biologists ask themselves: how can we conserve this endangered species?
Human-tiger conflict is one of the most urgent issues in tiger conservation today. The Last Tiger is a true-life look at the real threat to the future of tiger conservation and predator conservation worldwide. This is the journey brothers Harkaman and Bishnu Lama, and Dr. J.L. David Smith have faced over their 40 years working in Nepal, and the story of those who have lost their friends and family members from tiger attacks.
Why our story is important
This story needs to be shared! It is a compelling and inspiring example of what it means to be dedicated to change the world. What separates this story from other wildlife documentaries is that we have footage from forty years ago, and can take you through the history of tiger conservation with characters that have been there since the very beginning. Also, we focus on real issues of conservation rather than showing you animals living in what appears to be pristine wilderness, untouched by humans. Furthermore, our story is told by the people of Nepal, and not a foreigner, giving voices to the communities. We are filming now, and plan on making a trip back with J.L. David Smith to explore further the history and how the tiger conservation program began.
We hope to have a finished project by the winter of 2018. Upon completion, we will submit The Last Tiger to film festivals and then release the film to the world! Our goal is to create a riveting 90-minute documentary intended to change the status quo of wildlife documentaries, and inspire others to continue with their passion in life despite the challenges.
Our Call to Action
Sam, Emily, Dave and another colleague, Paul, teamed up to start a 501-C3 organization to support ongoing wildlife conservation. Project Conservation has raised money to help rebuild Nepal after the earthquake, and supports tiger conservation in Nepal and Thailand. Currently 100% of donations go directly to our programs. We designed our nonprofit to partner with our films so that after the film is done, our conservation programs go on and we can continue to support both local communities who have suffered losses from tigers and other wildlife, and also support the wildlife biologists to help mitigate these problems. Our goal is to change the status quo in documentary film making. Many documentaries present a problem, but they do not give viewers a way to actively participate. We want our viewers to know they can make a difference!
"Great documentaries enrich the lives of individuals. They have a unique ability to engage and connect people, transform communities and improve societies."- BritDoc
This is what we aim to do.
Emily studied her MFA in Natural History and Science Filmmaking at Montana State University after completing her B.S. in Wildlife Biology at the University of Minnesota (U of M). During her time at the U of M she worked closely with Dr. Dave Smith studying tigers. She has traveled to Thailand several times and has worked with Dr. Achara Simcharoen and Dr. Saksit Simcharoen. Further, she teamed up with National Trust for Nature Conservation and conducted an Occupancy Survey in Nepal to look at tiger dispersal in Parsa Wildlife Reserve, where she met Sam who was also working under Dr. Dave Smith looking at human-wildlife conflict.
Being awe-struck by the challenges of tiger conservation, she has dedicated her career to work towards saving this big cat. She decided to venture beyond the science realm in hopes to pass on the need to save our natural world through film.
Samantha Helle-Associate Producer/Wildlife Biologist
Sam is classically trained wildlife-biologist with an interest in human-dimensions of wildlife conservation. She received her B.S. from the University of Minnesota in Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation biology and is currently working on her M.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Management.
Sam has gained research experience working closely with Dr. J.L. David Smith and the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) in Nepal researching human/wildlife conflict in rural communities around Chitwan National Park. Specifically, she explored how these communities managed and perceived tigers in areas of high conflict by conducting interviews and holding focus groups with villagers. Wanting to promote tiger conservation is one thing, but after sitting with the people who live with tiger's every day, her eyes were opened to the critical, yet overlooked human component to tiger conservation. Her current research is focused on empowering local women as an underrepresented group in Nepal in human-tiger conflict mitigation and conservation.
Sam's deep desire to serve her community and promote scientific understanding a way that is palatable to the general public and accessable to underrepresented groups was born in the co-founding of Project Conservation (501c3) with Emily. She believes that solving the world’s conservation challenges will require the action and support of an informed and committed group of stakeholders that are not inhibited by factors such as socioeconomics or gender.
Sagar Giri is Nepal's official wildlife photographer and cinematographer. Growing up in Chitwan district, Nepal, Sagar has spent his life around this biodiversity hotspot, learning how to identify wildlife and being fascinated by how beautiful the natural world is. Understanding the need for tigers, and the ecosystem services that Chitwan provides for local villages, Sagar wants to express how beautiful this landscape is through imagery to generate support.
He is passionate about sharing his photos and videos to help generate support for National Parks in Nepal, and worldwide. Educated in Australia, Sagar returned back to his beautiful home and has pursused his passion, he has some of the most iconic shots taken of tigers in Nepal and is an excellent tracker.
Dr. J.L. David Smith (Aka Dave) -Tiger Biologist
For my entire career, I have focused on tiger research that addresses tiger conservation. Research topics include tiger behavior, ecology, movements and the genetic and demographic aspects of tiger metapopulation dynamics. I collaborate with spatial modelers, conservation geneticists and statisticians and use individual based modeling to better understand tiger behavior in response to geophysical, ecological and human factors.
My research is guided by a strong belief that conservation requires local participation and to that end, I have advised primarily Asian graduate students from tiger range countries or students interested in working in Asia. I also work closely with local communities to restore ecological services in landscapes where tigers live. In these efforts I work closely with government wildlife and forestry departments.
A primary field tool for this research is using satellite GPS collars. My field colleagues include both academics and field technicians working in Nepal, Thailand, Bangladesh, Cambodia, and China, and, in working in the field with these colleagues, I have been fortunate to spend many months every year living in the forests of Asia. At this stage in my career my goal is to build the capacity of Asians to lead Asian conservation activities.
We are fortunate to have archival footage from the first tiger ecology project in the world which was started in Nepal. To complete this story, we need footage of where we currently are today, and to capture more interviews of the communities. The goal we are setting for this campaign will get us through principal photography. The next step will be to find private investors to cover our post-production costs that will require an editor, composer, color, audio mix and distribution.
The percentage breakdown: Professional Cinematographers: 37%, Production Expenses: 17%, Kickstarter’s Share and Incentives: 17%, Gear Rental: 13%, Computers/Servers: 10%, Legal Fees: 6%.
How does Kickstarter work?
Kickstarter is a funding platform dedicated to making creative projects possible with direct support. When you back our project, you’re saying that this is a film you want made. We’ve chosen Kickstarter because it’s designed to make donating as convenient as possible and we ourselves enjoy supporting projects on this platform. Here’s how it works: We set a funding goal. Our supporters make pledges. If we reach our goal, your pledge will be processed by Kickstarter, and we can get to work. If we don’t reach our goal, our supporters will not be charged for their pledge. It’s all or nothing. Please help us make it an all! :)
Lastly, we want to thank all of you for sharing, donating and helping support our project! Thanks for being awesome!
Risks and challenges
The next chapter of tiger conservation is happening right now and we don't want to miss this important part of working with communities to try and save tigers. Currently we are working on compiling footage and preparing to take another trip back to Nepal. We are hoping our Kickstarter campaign will come through so that we can keep our production going. We have guidance from proven producers, directors, and distributors in the industry and are confident that with the help of you, we can create a high-quality and necessary film.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter