Yasuni is imperiled and needs your help! Help me finish this documentary so I can tell it's story. How far would you go to save it all?
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 less diversity?
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.
THE 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 consequences.
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, insurance, ETC.
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 professionals:
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 herbaria. 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 Rica.
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 priorities. 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 in 2003.
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.
Gorky 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.
FILM CREW –
Tomi 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 the environment.
Mat 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.
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