Enduring temperatures of -30ºC, the bunker is Park’s winter stakeout, which he uses to research and film the elusive animals. ‘Tigers loathe interactions with humans,’ he writes, before describing how they sniff out and destroy nearly all of his cameras. ‘The act of destruction was never caught on tape, only the sound, because all the cameras were attacked from behind.’
Before Park began, there was limited knowledge on the family ecology of wild Siberian tigers. With only around 450 of them left, his need to record them is pressing, illegal poaching has reduced their populations by 93 per cent in the last century. After five years tracing the steps of one family – the formidable Bloody Mary and her three cubs – Park details how he captured more than 1,000 hours of their behaviour.
The account is beautifully told. Translated from Korean, this offers a different voice to the English and Russian of most tiger researchers. The author’s background in literature allows him to sculpt the narrative with the deftness and lyricism of a novelist, fortified with all the commitment and determination of a wildlife expert.
This review was published in the March 2016 edition of Geographical Magazine