YASUNI MAN - A FEATURE LENGTH DOCUMENTARY FILM
HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO SAVE IT ALL?
“In just a few hectares, Yasuni has more species of plants than all
of North America combined. “ – Dr. Kelly Swing – Director and Co-Founder of
Tiputini Biostation, Amazon, Ecuador
So far, I have filmed
over 60% of Yasuni Man with the generous support from the contributors to our
Kickstarter campaign in 2010/2011. Now I need to go back and complete filming
the most rigorous part of the film and my main story arc – The Mega-Transect
and Rapid Biological Inventory.
With the support of
an amazing crew, we will prove that Yasuni Man and the Biosphere Reserve is in
desperate need of protecting and its value is much greater than oil, the single
largest threat to the NW Amazonian region. Yasuni is considered to have the
highest biological diversity in the western hemisphere and possibly the world.
Additionally, inside this world heritage site live two uncontacted Waorani families, the Taromenane and Tagaeri, living in voluntary isolation with no contact to the outside
world. Not only are wildlife species being threatened, but so are the
indigenous people by the reckless industries that have exploited Yasuni for
nearly a century.
If we can’t protect Yasuni, which is among the most biologically rich and culturally diverse regions of our
planet, how can we expect to protect regions of the world with significantly
Please help me in my
mission to give Yasuni a voice, a voice that will bring attention to the plight
of the natural world that we are all at risk of losing, and without
knowing, we all depend.
STORY OF YASUNI MAN -
Yasuni Man is a feature length documentary
film that exposes a battle for resources being waged deep in the Ecuadorian
Amazon. Filmmaker and biologist Ryan Patrick Killackey will take you on a
thrilling and unforgettable adventure across a landscape so astounding that it’s
been called “Earth’s Eden.” Across this landscape unfolds a geopolitical
conflict that pits the industrialized world against some of the last remaining
uncontacted people on Earth.
Through Ryan’s lens, you will intimately
witness this conflict as it threatens the ancient cultures and
magnificent wildlife of the Yasuni Man and the Biosphere Reserve.
In one of the most biologically diverse and
dangerous regions of the world, Ryan has been granted unique access by the Ecuadorian
government to perform a three-week mega-transect across Yasuni. We will also perform a RBI around the Cononaco River in the intangible zone where no uncontacted live. Ryan’s team will conduct a mega-transect and a “bio-blitz,” or rapid
biological assessment, of the reserve. They will portray the region’s species
diversity while giving a deep understanding of Yasuni’s history—depicting how
progress has pushed Yasuni’s people and wildlife to the brink, and the attendant global
For years, the oil industry has tried to find a
way to access huge oil reserves that lie below Yasuni. The only thing that
has prevented mass exploitation in the region are the small communities of
indigenous people that defended their territory with tooth and nail. The
Waorani and two uncontacted Waorani families, the Taromenane and Tagaeri, have fiercely
protected their ancestral territory with nothing more than spears and blowguns.
Blood has been spilling since the turn of the 19th century and death has
come to many without discrimination.
Shot in true HD with state of the art
equipment, our team will trek over 150 miles through one of the most
biologically diverse forests on the planet.
To help shed light on this conflict, we will
interview key individuals involved in resolving this crisis. Interviewees
include and are not limited to wildlife biologists, indigenous leaders (from
Shwar, Ashuar, Kichwa and Waorani tribes), loggers, petroleros, politicians,
park rangers, military officials, families of the deceased loggers, human
rights leaders, NGO's, United Nations officials and Ecuador’s current
president, Rafael Correa, a leading proponent of an international non-drilling
initiative within Yasuni.
WHO IS SUPPORTING MY EFFORTS?
To get started, we raised $40,000 via
kickstarter from just 250 contributions in 2011! These funds were used to get
me down to Ecuador to film for over 70 days in the field to begin preliminary filming. Over this period I captured over 150
hours of HD video footage.
Yale Environment 360 is contributing a portion
of our field budget and will be co-producing a 12 minute exclusive video for
their website http://e360.yale.edu/. Yale's last effort garnered an Academy Award
Nomination for Best Documentary Short in 2011, and was a nominee for "Best
Website Ever". They have over two million visitors annually.
Casey Driessen, the Grammy Award Nominated
musician, has agreed to write Yasuni Man's original musical score.
I will be using additional songs by the amazing talents of Sol Seppy and Jackson Browne.
I have received letters of support from several world reknowned organizations such as Yale Environment 360, The Field Museum of Natural History’s Rapid
Biological Inventory Program, Conservation International’s Rapid Assessment
Program, Finding Species and Save America’s Forests to name a few.
We have also received a letter of
recommendation from three-time Sundance Film Festival Winner for Cinematography,
two-time Emmy Award Winner, and Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary
Feature, Andy Young.
HOW WILL THE FUNDS BE USED?
Performing a 16-day rapid biological inventory
and a 25-day mega-transect costs a lot of money and is extremely dangerous,
especially when you have a 15-person field crew. The funds that we raise
will be used to cover our film permits, collection permits, transportation,
meals, lodging (field hammocks), satellite telephone, field gear, research
materials, batteries, medical gear, anti-venom, baggage, honorariums,
MEET OUR FIELD CREW AND SCIENTIFIC ADVISORS
Aside from garnering
support from Yale Environment 360, Field Museum, Conservation International, and Finding Species, I have assembled a crew of amazing biologists, native guides and
advisors to help perform my Mega-Transect and Rapid Biological Inventory.
My crew consists of the following
SCIENTIFIC ADVISORS –
Dr. Corine Vriesendorp - Field Museum of
Natural History – As a Conservation
Ecologist with ECP, Corine Vriesendorp conducts botanical surveys for Rapid
Biological Inventories, and in conjunction with Robin Foster, produces and
develops Rapid Color Guides of Latin America plants. She has worked extensively
in Latin America since 1992, both doing fieldwork and teaching portions of the
ecology and plant systematics courses for the Organization for Tropical
Studies. Her current research interests include biogeographic distribution
patterns of tropical plants, their systematics and taxonomy, and digital
Corine received her B.A. in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology with
an emphasis in Latin American Studies from Princeton University in 1994, and a
dual Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior and Forestry from
Michigan State University in 2003. Her ongoing research includes a long term
monitoring study of seedling demography at La Selva Biological Station in Costa
Dr. Robin Foster - Field Museum of Natural History
- Robin Foster is a
Conservation Ecologist with ECP. He is active in programs to preserve
biological diversity and threatened habitats in the tropics, especially in
Central and South America. He has a long history of research and exploration in
Latin America, focusing on tropical forest ecology and geography, plant
community composition and dynamics; floristics; and reproductive biology of
plants. As part of the tropical Rapid Biological Inventory teams, Robin uses
the information on ecological and floristic patterns to recommend conservation
The lack of resources for identifying plants in the tropics
has been a bottle-neck for all researchers and students, and a barrier to
public interest for a long time. It has provoked Robin to develop a variety of
new tools to speed up the identification and learning process, such as the
Rapid Reference Collection and Rapid Color Guides, while taking advantage of
digital technology and the vast resource of tropical collections in the
herbarium of The Field Museum.
Robin received a B.A. in Biology from
Dartmouth College in 1966 and received his Ph.D. in Botany/Plant Ecology from
Duke University in 1974. He has also been on the biology faculty of the
University of Chicago, a senior ecologist at Conservation International, and a
staff biologist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
Dr. Trond Larsen - Conservation International
- Dr. Trond Larsen
is a tropical ecologist and is Director of the Rapid Assessment Program (RAP)
at Conservation International and a Research Collaborator with the Smithsonian
Institution in Washington, D.C. Dr. Larsen received his B.Sc. in Biology from
Duke University and his Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from
Princeton University, studying the impacts of habitat fragmentation on
biodiversity in Venezuela. Dr. Larsen was a founding director of the Amazon
Conservation Association, which works to protect biodiversity and livelihoods
in Peru and Bolivia. As Science Director for the organization Friends of the
Osa, he established a new center for research, education and conservation of
terrestrial and marine biodiversity on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. He
is an expert on the impacts of climate change, land-use change, logging and
infrastructure development on biodiversity. Dr. Larsen works in tropical
countries globally, but focuses mostly on insects in Central and South America,
particularly in the Andes, as well as in the lowlands of Ecuador. He is the
author of more than 20 scientific articles and book chapters. Dr. Larsen
currently leads CI’s RAP program, which conducts rapid biological assessments
of critical terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats around the world, in
order to guide conservation priorities and actions.
Dr. Matt Finer – CIEL/Save America’s Forests - Dr.
Finer is a Project Scientist in CIEL's Biodiversity Program. The project
focuses on protecting the primary forests, biodiversity, and indigenous
territories in the Loreto Region of the Peruvian Amazon by promoting strategic
planning at the regional and national levels. Specifically, he tracks and
analyzes threats to the region that will likely trigger new deforestation
events. Prior to joining CIEL, Dr. Finer was Staff Ecologist at Save America's
Forests for seven years. Here he worked exclusively on western Amazon
conservation and science issues, visiting and working in the region for at
least several months every year. Dr. Finer worked directly on a number of
important conservation issues, most notably oil drilling and illegal logging conflicts
in the Yasuni region of Ecuador. He also conducted original research and
published a number of peer-reviewed papers regarding threats to the western
Amazon, particularly from hydrocarbon activities. Dr. Finer also published a
number of non-scientific pieces targeted to educating the general public about
threats to Yasuni National Park and the greater western Amazon. Matt received
his Ph.D. from the School of Biological Sciences at Washington State University
Hugo Mogollón – Finding Species – Mr.
Mogollón is Executive Director of Finding Species. He brings to Finding Species
eleven years of experience in managing field projects and is one of the leading
ecologists and field botanists in Ecuador. Mr. Mogollón has received
fellowships from The Field Museum and from the Smithsonian Tropical Research
Institute (STRI) in Panamá. He has
consulted for institutions including The Nature Conservancy, the Smithsonian
Institution, and the Catholic University of Ecuador, and has established tree
research plots in remote western Amazon forests, and is an author and a data
contributor to the Amazon Tree Diversity Network. He is also a member of the IUCN Palm Specialist Group, and
contributes to various scientific journals with publications on the
distribution of plants in tropical forests and writes about conservation policy
issues. Mr. Mogollón earned his B.A. in Biological Sciences from Pontificia
Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Quito.
Alonso Jaramillo – Ministry of the Environment
-Yasuni National Park - Mr. Jaramillo strongly believes in
conservation as a result of a balanced association between nature and humans.
Alonzo started working as a federal employee for the Ecuadorian Governments
Ministry of the Environment in the Protected Areas Program. Mr. Jaramillo
worked for over 20 years in the Yasuni region as a Park Ranger, Biological
Field Technician, Conservation Officer, Yasuní National Park Representative and
finally, the President of the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve Organizational
Committee. In this last role, his main objective was to strengthen liaisons and
hard work among the local communities respecting their rights to their
ancestral land. Along with other responsibilities, Alonzo developed an
organizing and participatory strategy involving main actors of the Biosphere
Reserve, in order to promote conservation and future generations liability.
Tom Quesenberry and Mariela Tenorio - Owners of El Monte Sustainable Lodge - Tom and Mariela have been married for over 20 years and have dedicated most of their loves together to conserve Ecuador. They are the proprietors of El Monte Sustainable Lodge in Mindo, where guests can visit one of Ecuador's most magnificent locations. They also were the founding directors of Sani Lodge, a fully indigenous run ecotourism lodge in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Through their efforts and collaboration with the Sani Isla community, Sani Lodge has grown into one of Ecuador's premier ecotourism lodges that supports over 360 community members while preserving their land and protecting wildlife. Tom and Mariela volunteered for over 5 years until the Sani community was confident to proceed without their help. Tom and Mariela have now taken up an even more difficult task by helping the Waorani of Yasuni to establish ecotourism as an alternative to oil extraction and deforestation, the main reason for the loss of cultural identity of indigenous people in the region.
FIELD CREW –
Otobo Baihua, Caiga Baihua, Omeyewe Baihua,
Kemperi Baihua, Conan Baihua, Penti Baihua, Wepe Baihua - The Baihuas are an
amazing indigenous family from the Waorani communities of Bameno and Boanamo,
and the caretakers of much of the most pristine and isolated regions of all of
Yasuni Man and the Biosphere Reserve. They have graciously accepted me into
their lives in the hope that I can help to empower and improve their lives and
the future generations of Waorani children. The Waorani have lived in this
territory for over 6,000 years and their knowledge of wildlife and plants in
the Yasuni region is unparalleled.
Dr. Kelly Swing - Ichthyologist and
Entomologist (Fish and Insects) – Dr. Swing is an adjunct associate professor of Biology at
Boston University and has been the full-time program coordinator and instructor for
the Tropical Ecology Program since 1995. Dr. Swing also serves as the Director
of the Tiputini Biodiversity Station and as professor of Environmental Sciences
at Universidad San Francisco de Quito. A graduate of Auburn University, with a
Ph.D. from Louisiana State University, Dr. Swing specializes in tropical marine
and freshwater fishes. He has an extensive background in tropical ecology and
has taught field courses in Ecuador since 1992.
Dr. Morley Read - Herpetologist (Reptiles
and Amphibians) – Dr. Morley Read is a biologist
and photographer with a wide interest in tropical and rainforest biology having
considerable fieldwork experience in Ecuador and the Caribbean. He graduated
with BSc Hons. First Class and obtained his PhD at Bangor, University of Wales.
Has undertaken many faunistic and floristic studies, monitoring of biodiversity
etc. These include environmental impact assessments for oil companies working
in the Ecuadorian rainforest and other projects including the New Quito
Airport, management plans for national parks and other protected areas.
Is carrying out long term monitoring of reptile and amphibian populations in
Yasuni National Park, a project that has run from 1994 to present. Currently is
a taxonomist at the Universidad Catolica, Quito, and is involved in describing
new species of frogs, as well as compiling information for their on-line
encyclopaedia. Has a particular interest in amphibian bioacoustics, produced 3
CD's covering the calls of the frogs of the Ecuadorian Amazon, Mindo (North-West
Ecuador), Trinidad, Tobago and the Lesser Antilles. He is also a natural
history photographer and film-maker, supplying UK based and international
photographic agencies with video clips and still photos and has worked on many
TV documentaries, including the BBC Natural History Unit, Bristol. As
cameraman, he received the semi-finalist award for an outstanding film on
animal behaviour documentary "Frogs the Movie" (Survival Anglia),
at the 2000 Animal Behaviour Society Film Festival.
F. Villa Muñoz - Botanist (Plants)
- Gorky F. Villa Muñoz is a Staff Botanist at
Finding Species. He is the lead botanist for Finding Species on the LeafSnap
project, through the Native Plant Program. He locates, identifies, collects and
photographs plants throughout the United States. Mr. Villa brings to Finding
Species over fifteen years of field experience in identifying tropical and
temperate plants. He has worked on forest- and herbarium-based projects for The
Catholic University of Ecuador, The Field Museum (Chicago), and for the Center
for Tropical Forest Science of the Smithsonian Institution. Mr. Villa helped
establish and has supervised the field staff in two Smithsonian Institution
long-term tropical forest research plots—in Yasuni National Park and the Gamba
Complex. He helped build and manage the databases for these plots, with
information on the identification and location of thousands of individual
trees. In the Yasuní plot, he and field team members identified over 152,000
trees representing over 1,100 species in a 25-hectare area, in a forest so dense,
so poorly known, and of such high species diversity that the identifications
required eight years of field and herbarium study to complete.
Domingo Hualinga - Ornithologist (Birds)
- Domingo Hualinga is a Kichwa Native of
Amazonian Ecuador, and a member if the Sani Isla Community. He has been working
as a naturalist guide for Sani Lodge for over 12 years, one of Ecuador's
premier eco-tourism lodges. Domingo is an avid birder, and specializes in avian
identification through sight, sound, prints and nests. Domingo was born and
raised in the Amazon of Ecuador and has capabilities that are classified as
simply amazing. Domingo has documented over 550 bird species in the Sani
Isla/Rio Napo region, but is
also extremely knowledgeable about all other classes of plants and
animals in his native region.
Diego Tirira - Mammalogist (Mammals) - Diego has
studied mammals and worked for their conservation since 1990. He has served as
the curator of the mastozoological collection in Museo de Zoología (QCAZ), as a
teacher at Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE) and Universidad San Francisco
de Quito, as a research associate in the department of biological sciences of
PUCE and Museo Ecuatoriano de Ciencias Naturales, and recently as investigator
and coordinator for the Neotropical Region in the project Global Mammal
Assessment, a joint effort of IUCN, Conservation International and Virginia
University (USA) aimed at evaluating the conservation status of the mammals of
the world. He graduated from PUCE in 1995 and culminated his program with the
thesis, “Ecological Aspects of the Lesser Bulldog Bat,Noctilio albiventris affinis (Chiroptera: Noctilionidae),
in the Ecuadorian Amazon.” He has published numerous articles and
scientific papers on various aspects of mastozoology.
Larry Evans - Mycologist (Fungus) - Larry Evans is a mycologist, writer, and lecturer on aspects of
fungal biology and ecology. For the past 7 years he has worked under an
agreement with the Bolivian National Herbarium to catalog the fungal diversity
of Madidi National Park and other critical habitats in Bolivia and Peru. He
received his BA from the University of Montana in microbiology and botany, and
spent several years studying and living in Japan, Korea, and parts of Asia. He
speaks Spanish and Japanese, and is the founder and director of the Western
Montana Mycological Association. Larry is also the creator of www.fungaljungal.org, a website for fungus
enthusiasts. He has taught courses in
mycology and ecology through the UM and Glacier Institute for 20 years, and his
story was featured in the documentary film by Ron Mann, Know Your Mushroooms,
2009. He has written and produced 3 music CDs about fungal and other subjects,
and is a contributing editor to Mushroom the Journal and also contributes
regularly to FUNGI magazine.
Sugahara – Logistics and Field Production Support - Tomi studied ecology at the San Francisco
University of Quito (USFQ), Ecuador, receiving a B.S. degree. Tomi worked as
an assistant in the Amphibians and Reptiles Laboratory and the Economic
Herbarium at the USFQ. She also assists in the field study and inventory of
mammals in the buffer zone of the Cuyabeno Reserve in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
From 2004-2006, she worked for the Kichwa community of Sani Isla in their
community tourism project Sani Lodge. She also promoted small community
projects related to income generation, water and sanitation and schoolteachers
support. In 2006, Tomi was incorporated as the project coordinator of the Local
Youth Board Project in Futuro Latinoamericano Foundation, promoting good governance
practices through youth. With the Local Youth Board, they design and implement
projects that promote youth leadership through community service. In 2008, Tomi
started her role in Peace Corps, Ecuador, as the Community Health Program
Manager, where she supports and supervises over 90 volunteers serving in
different localities around the country along with their communities. Tomi is a
founding member of Monocien.org, a group of people intended to live in the
countryside as a community by living sustainably in an ecological and
autonomous economical manner.
Through a radical change on patterns of production and consumption our
goal is to foster complementary and respectful relationships between people and
Danos – Audio Technician - Mat is an audio professional creating products for television and the music industry. In Mat 's own words - "Music is my vehicle. I
drive vehemently. I might not make it to space but I bet it's going to sound
f'ing awesome trying to get there." Mat
has worked on various projects for Warner Bros, DreamWorks, Amblin, Stanley
Kubrick Productions, Paramount, Touchstone, MGM, Sony/Columbia, EMI, Virgin,
Capitol, Caroline, RCA/Jive, Leo Burnett, Foote, Cone & Belding.