Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Asia/ Film Reveals the Drama of Tibet's Poacher War

Yes, unfortunately poaching is also a problem in Tibet.


Asia/ Film reveals the drama of Tibet's poacher war


Director Lu Chuan's latest film, "Kekexili: Mountain Patrol," is a far cry from his suspense-filled first effort, "The Missing Gun," released in 2002.

His newest movie is quasi-documentary. It's a plea to save the endangered Tibetan antelope--but he fears that poaching continues to reduce the wild herds across the rugged region.

"Local residents can't survive without poaching. They rely on antelope fur to make a living," the 35-year-old Chinese director said on a recent visit to Tokyo.

"Tibetan antelope furs fetch a high price. They use it for luxurious coats and other items," he explained.

The director says Tibet's low standard of living forces many people into poaching.

Lu's film, released in China in 2004, is based on the true story of two volunteer mountain rangers who died while battling poachers in the Kekexili area on the Tibetan Plateau. It opened in Japan over the weekend.

With his second film, Lu decided he wanted to tackle a more powerful theme.

He read a report of how poachers had murdered one leader of the rangers who had interfered with their antelope hunts. The second leader also died in similar circumstances.

"Why did they risk their lives to protect Tibetan antelopes? I wanted to find out by making this movie. I wanted to shoot a drama of human life," Lu said.

Lu and his film crew spent six months on the low-oxygen plateau, which sits 4,700 meters above sea level. Actors re-enacted scenes along the same route followed by the rangers. Real rangers advised on the events that took place amid the rugged terrain.

The movie has raised awareness of the need to protect Tibetan antelopes.

The government passed several measures to protect the animals, and today, the herds are gradually recovering.

Still, Lu said, "Poaching has not yet been eradicated."(IHT/Asahi: June 7,2006)

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