Saturday, 16 November 2013


a stalking tigress - tension indeed © Mike Richards
“Tiger, tiger, burning bright” … one of the most powerful predators in the world. Beautiful but deadly, elusive and endangered, a few still survive “in the forests of the night”.

a tiger's roar makes your heart leap © Mike Richards

Tigers are one of the most desirable creatures in the natural world so I was keen to film these magnificent big cats, to show them hunting, the cubs playing and the beauty of their forest home, most of which would have to be filmed from elephant back with a twenty foot tripod. We got charged by Lakshmi when filming her cubs ; she certainly got our attention. The elephant wasn’t happy either!

big aren't they - this one was killed by an even bigger male
stars of the show - two of our three cubs
Our film was made for the BBC and National Geographic and is set in Kanha National Park in central India. Ace cameraman Chip Houseman and I decided to tell the story of just one tigress and her struggles to raise her three cubs in this dangerous [for tigers] world. We called her Lakshmi, after the ‘Goddess of Fortune’ and hoped her name would prove prophetic.

Lakshmi resting in the shade © Tom Mangelsen
It certainly was for Chip and I, for the film won us a BAFTA for cinematography, the ultimate accolade … and if you wish to see this film, it will be showing in the second half of a fund raising film show I am giving on behalf of the Dorset Wildlife Trust. I’ll be telling a few stories about the filming and some of them might even be true … and answering any questions you may have.
as good as it gets - awards are always earned by team effort

'the eyes have it' © Tom Mangelsen
All funds raised will go towards the habitat creation and enhancement being carried out by the DWT on our lovely local river, the Allen.
It might only be thirteen miles long but it is a jewel flowing through the Dorset countryside and through Wimborne on it’s way to the River Stour.

the River Allen - a jewel in Dorset's crown
The Allen is a chalk stream, one of only 160 in the world and one of the best examples, for it is a stronghold for the white clawed crayfish and still supports a small population of water voles, both seriously endangered species.

source of the river, water so clear it's invisible
brown trout thrive
grayling to record size
The crystal clear nutrient rich water provides food and a home for an impressive sixteen species of fish, most notably proper native brown trout and seriously big grayling, the river having once provided the rod caught record at 3.10 to our ex.postman and friend, Owen Wentworth. Lots of big roach and dace come up the clear stream from the Stour to spawn on the clean gravel in April and two years ago I saw a roach that had my eyes out on stalks ; it must have been close to three pounds.

sixteen species in all, including big roach
filming but wishing I was catching
I have made a film about this lovely river for the Dorset Wildlife Trust in the hope of raising the profile of this important waterway and showing people the hidden treasures below the surface. ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ is an appropriate saying when it comes to our fish life and the film certainly succeeds in making folk sit up and take notice.

perch in the mill pools
I am in the process of updating it to include some of the hard work being carried out by the Trust to enhance habitat for the white clawed crayfish, water voles and fish life … and the river certainly needs all the help it can get. In October the flow was 50% down on the seasonal norm and some of it had dried up … and with 8,200 new houses planned for this area in the next few years, I wonder where all the water is coming from?! Add to that the substantial amounts of water required for ‘fracking’ and the future seems bleak … but it doesn’t have to be if we keep fighting for our gem of a chalk stream.

plenty of kingfishers adorn the chalk stream
So please come along to the show and support the work of the Trust before it’s too late. DWT staff will be there to answer questions and I’ll be on hand to add my bit too. I held a fund raiser like this in May and we filled the place, the 300+ folk raising sufficient funds to enable more habitat enhancement to be carried out this Autumn.

The film is called “Liquid Gold” … ‘we can live without gold, we die without water’! Tickets can be bought from the Allendale Centre in Wimborne where the films will be shown, also from DWT HQ.


Friday 29th November – 19.00 for 19.30 start. Tickets £10 or £5 for children – all proceeds go to the River Allen Project …details on the DWT website.

No comments:

Post a Comment