Shot guerrilla-style, in the field by its stars, saving the spoon-billed sandpiper brings real-life human drama to the nature documentary format.
The film features stunning footage of spoon-billed sandpipers, as a handful of the last remaining pairs attempt to breed in the fleeting Arctic summer.
But the story veers from the standard natural history format as we follow two of the team, WWT’s Nigel Jarrett and Martin McGill, from the UK to the Russian wilderness and see them push themselves to the limit to achieve a seemingly impossible task.
Nigel and Martin are part of an international team brought together to save this most unusual and elusive creature – the spoon-billed sandpiper – from almost certain extinction. Weather and wildlife conspire to prevent them, but the pair relies on ingenuity, determination and each other to see them through weeks of little sleep, caring for 17 of the world’s rarest young animals in extreme conditions.
The film’s producer, Sacha Dench said:
By showing the lows as well as the highs, the gut-wrenching decisions and the near calamities, we hope people will see conservation in the raw. It’s certainly not glamorous, but it is gripping.
The guys are everyday heroes. They have ended up doing this extraordinary job, but we see the stress and strain of ten weeks spent away from their young families, which shows they’re no different from the rest of us; they just followed their hearts into a career in conservation.
It would be wonderful if their story gives encouragement to any young people that, if they want to, they can get into conservation.
The film, which is 60 minutes long, is released on DVD on Friday 17 August and is available to buy online or in shops at WWT centres priced £9.99.