Universum King of the Taiga - The Siberian Tiger Returns

Production Overview

„The story of the tigers is also a story of the wilderness, of our origins and of our future place on this planet.“

Franz Hafner, Writer

Across the world, tigers face extinction; there are currently only 4,000 left. In many regions numbers are still declining. Conservation projects began decades ago, but have had little effect. In Russia‘s Far East, however, efforts to protect tigers have been a resounding success. In 1950, there were just 40 Siberian or Amur tigers. With strict conservation plans the population recovered. There are now almost 600. This success has unintended consequences: tigers have come into conflict with humans. They enter towns and villages and kill domesticated animals, and there have been human casualties. It’s a serious worry - and the foundation of this documentary.

A young tiger, born in a Russian conservation area, will guide the viewer through the film. “King of the Taiga“ accompanies him over the course of a year once he leaves his mother. His search for a suitable place to live reveals the problems facing the tigers in the Far East of Russia, as well as the conflicts that arise when he strays into human settlements. Secondary narratives introduce humans whose lives are intertwined with those of the tigers: the biologist Svetlana and her tiger research project in a Russian conservation area and Yuri Kolpak, supervisor of the Tiger Response Team called in when tigers stray too close to humans. 

The young tiger leads the viewer to the places where the fate of the Siberian tigers will be decided: the great forests, the remote villages and the cities at the edge of the wilderness. After months of roaming and several adventures, he eventually finds a territory of his own, where a dominant male tiger has disappeared. The young tiger‘s journey is over. But can he stay?
KING OF THE TAIGA provides intimate insights into the lives of the big cats, exploring their daily existence and their battle for survival. The animals they prey on are also part of the film: the tigers would be unable to survive without the presence of sika deer, Altai wapiti, wild boars and Asian black bears. We’ll explore the ancient human fear of large predators, the unease of villagers in remote settlements and the unique sensation of gathering mushrooms in a forest with a very real danger of a tiger attack.
The film poses the fundamental question: Can tigers and humans co-exist? What future do the Siberian tigers face? As yet, we cannot be certain.

A production of Interspot Film for ORF Universum and ARTE, National Geographic, BR, svt and Channel One Russia. Funded by Fernsehfonds Austria and distrubuted by ORF Enterprise.

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Written and Directed by:
Franz Hafner
Producers Interspot Film:
Nikolaus & Nils Klingohr
Executive Producer Interspot Film:
Martin Demmerer
Executive Producer ORF:
Gernot Lercher
Line Producer Russia:
Alexander Bundtzen
Production Management Interspot Film:
Isabella Lesiak

Completion: 2021

Your Contacts

Martin Demmerer
Martin Demmerer
Telephone: +43-1-80120-560