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“We are destroying earth, we are burning our home”

M.Buyanbadrakh on the left and U.Ganbayar on the right

Trans. by B.DULGUUN

Eight courageous men of “Khureelen” (Institute) Project filmed a documentary featuring Mongolia’s beauty, as well as the wonder of life and animals in the countryside. These men who captured rare and incredible moments on film, won the highest prize of journalism in Mongolia, the Baldorj Prize.

They gave a very modest explanation for their extraordinary and brave journey of 30,000 km in extreme climate, fluctuation between minus 30 degrees and plus 30 degrees, to follow a lifelong obsession for animals.

The following is an interview with founder of Institute Project U.Ganbayar and general producer M.Buyanbadrakh, covering some interesting facts about their adventure.

After spending many months near animals while traveling across the wild, have your views on life changed?

Ganbayar: I realized humans are biological species.

Buyanbadrakh: Ganbayar has been taking landscape photos for many years and is much more experienced than me. After participating in this project, I concluded that I didn’t know beyond taking photos of marmots, ground-squirrels and birds sitting on windows. A group of people establish a surrounding. Humans think highly of themselves because we’re intelligent, dominators of the world, can fly to space, construct tall buildings, and produce electricity. The animal world is a parallel world that isn’t inferior or superior to ours. They have a leader, followers, couples, offsprings, work, competitions and selections. It’s regrettable that we claim they’re inferior to us and kill, persecute and destroy the animal world.

Is it true Institute Project received a 100 billion MNT financing?

Buyanbadrakh: Rumor spread that apart from support from the state, we received 100 billion MNT from large corporations. I can guarantee that we didn’t receive 100 billion MNT. Oyu Tolgoi LLC, Central Bank, Monnis Group and Khunnu Airlines provided financial support and promoted our project on TV programs to encourage us to capture good photos.

Many say we run tons of commercials during our broadcasting program. We only do it to show our appreciation to the above companies. The Ministry of Nature and Green Development and the Ministry of Education and Science understood and supported our motive and gave us allowances.

Initially, we planned to execute the project for three years and estimated approximately a billion MNT for horses, cars and technical equipment. We don’t have supporters that granted us a billion MNT, or even 100 million MNT. We began our journey after selling our cars and getting loans.

So far, how much money have you spent?

Ganbayar: Within a year, we spent 300 million MNT on rent, purchasing two cars, fuel and cameras. Our team members didn’t take a single dime home. We’re barely providing for our family. S.Tsatsral of Gamma Agency and I are selling our photographs while Buyanaa puts up advertisements on the website. We plan to repay our debt within 2014. Next year, we plan to get posters, calendars, books and postcards published with our work and produce souvenirs and logos.

It must’ve been difficult to set off this huge project and patch up a team. Did the team members know each other before?

Buyanbadrakh: Yes. Ganbayar initiated it. We gave ourselves a very big name, Rangers. It doesn’t mean that we wear green striped clothes, ride on motorbikes, chase away people camping near Bogd Mountain, burn down mining companies or pocket money. Animals are dying because of environmental degradation and pollution. The environment will not spontaneously recover in ten years if we sit around procrastinating. This is the fault made by humans so we should inform children on what sorts of wild animals live where. Based on their knowledge, children will love and protect animals. We decided to share, inform and show this by doing what we can.

During your journey, did you meet hunters?

Buyanbadrakh: The one who lectures hunters is our Head Photographer L.Bataa. During summer, we came across people doing illegal hunting. We could only lecture them since we’re no civil workers and couldn’t take any measure or fine them. Some get scared but those who aren’t intimidated demand to know who we are. They don’t take note of words spoken by people with cameras as their only weapon.

What do you think about animal slaughter?

Ganbayar: Hunters are presenting their guns to us and say they liked our TV program’s motto, “Let’s exchange hunting rifles with cameras”. There are many people who pledged to stop hunting and take pictures instead. They encourage us to sell their guns and use the bargain for our next journey.

Buyanbadrakh: I think it’s possible to hunt legally with limits, without threatening the wild population. Every country has hunting shops. Even Mongolia lets foreigners hunt and get revenue for the state budget.

Are you extreme animal lovers, to the level that you wouldn’t even hurt a fly?

Buyanbadrakh: Nature has a strict law of natural selection that only the strong survive preying on the weak. Carnivores function as cleaners. With or without us, nature will regulate itself, eliminating the ones it doesn’t need and keeps the ones that are needed. Humans are also a type of carnivore. We’re not monks in monasteries. We haven’t befriended animals so much as to sleep with hedgehogs.

Ganbayar: When Mongolians see animals, they either believe they’ll recover their spirit or chase them away. The more you chase them the more distant they become. While we were taking photos of wild horses, people in vans drove towards them, forcing them to scatter. Mongolians should stop scaring animals, disturbing the tranquility and clamor their habitat.

During your journey, was there anything that was very disturbing or painful to see?

We mainly travelled through the wild where there weren’t any people. The nature had kept its natural form. Near roads frequented by people, trash and cans were piled up. If we think of Mongolia and the earth we live in as home, we’re burning and ruining our home.

How difficult was the journey?

Buyanbadrakh: You will not face hardships while traveling by car. During the trip, we travelled 200 km on horses across tundra, cliffs, rocks, and muddy and swampy land for a week. Some of the crew did get fever, stomach ache, sore throat and sore legs, and even got bitten by a dog but nothing too serious. Our cameramen took care of their cameras more than themselves.

Ganbayar: There were times when I almost cried from spending minus 30 degree Celsius nights in tents and from almost freezing my fingers while taking photos during the cold weather. We almost had a car crash in Gurvantes soum, Umnugobi Province. Although desert roads seem to be formed of gravels, in the middle it has many loose sands. We were able to pull our cars because we had two. If we had only one car, we would’ve been stuck in a difficult situation 300 km away from people, without water, food or horses.

Mongolia has an official species catalogue showing the estimation the mammals and reptiles that exist in Mongolia. How many of them did you film?

Ganbayar: In the first ten months of our journey, we’ve filmed approximately a third of Mongolia’s total species. We captured some 50 of 138 species of mammals, over 100 of 487 species of bird, and three of six amphibians on film. Our work is progressing according to plan.

Were there instances when you couldn’t capture a moment? For example, due to technical difficulty?

Ganbayar: There were times when we slipped an amazing moment because the camera wouldn’t focus, clouds covered the sun and due to technical difficulties as well as our own faults. For example, after exhausting from a long journey on horses, we finally encountered two elks but didn’t get to capture them on film. We made a big mistake of tying our horses in a ravine behind a tree, which was apparently completely visible to elks that were coming down from Khangai Mountain peak. When the elks saw our horses, they went straight into the woods. Since wild animals are keen and vigilant, skills are crucial for getting closer to them. You need detailed calculations of wind direction, position of the sun, higher ground elevation and where the animal could escape to.

What will you do after this project?

Ganbayar: We’ll produce our own magazine and if possible, our own Mongolian geography and animal world channel. Mongolian channels have a monotone broadcasting system. They first report the same thing that happened in the State Palace of Mongolia from different angles and then run few folk songs, followed by Korean soap drama. Instead, why can’t we have channels exclusively engaged to sports, Buddhism, or even a channel for women and an animal related channels? There’s tons of work we can do if only we have the will to take action. Mongolia isn’t a country with debt that only makes project teams execute new ideas. We’re doing this project because we enjoy it.

 

Source: http://www.mongolnews.mn /1b5z

 

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=12039

Posted by on Oct 2 2014. Filed under Prime Interview. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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