Saturday, May 18, 2024


South Pacific: Conservancy Seeks Filmmaker for Dream Tropical Island Job

Prominent NGO BirdLife International has put out a call for a talented filmmaker to travel to a remote South Pacific atoll for a month-long conservation expedition.

(Beach Hut on Anchorage Island)

Combining an exciting adventure with the opportunity to film some of nature’s most stunning scenery, it’s difficult to imagine a more thrilling proposal for filmmakers than the one that BirdLife International has just announced. The NGO is calling for applications for experienced short-filmmakers to travel with members of the group to the highly remote Suwarrow atoll in the Cook Islands.

One of the most pristine island chains in the Cooks, Suwarrow has a scattering of islands and islets surrounding a beautiful turquoise lagoon. Due to its remoteness, the atoll has only been intermittently inhabited, although it does have a few surprising claims to fame. Author Robert Louis Stevenson passed through the Suwarrow en route to Tonga in 1890, whereupon his wife Fanny declared it “the most romantic island in the world!” Persistent rumors to the contrary, it did not, however, inspire Treasure Island.

New Zealand adventurer Tom Neale also brought the atoll some attention with his 1966 autobiographical novel, An Island to Oneself. Neale spent the better part of 16 years living in almost complete solitude on Suwarrow’s Anchorage Island; on his first stay, in 1952, it was 10 months before he saw another human being. He would stay on the atoll on-and-off until it was turned into a National Park in 1978.

Now, the islands are entirely uninhabited by humans, with only occasional visits from yachters or local charter tours. Birds, on the other hand, flock to the atoll in droves. In a recent press release, BirdLife noted that more than 100,000 seabirds use Suwarrow as a breeding site, making it one of the most important bird areas in the South Pacific.

(Satellite Image of Suwarrow Atoll)

This is threatened, however, by the bane of conservationists everywhere – invasive plagues of rats, often unknowingly brought by visiting boats. On islands without larger predators, rats could breed unchecked and spell devastation for the eggs of birds. Ian Karika, the Suwarrow project manager for the Te Ipukarea Society. “Left unchecked, rats put globally important seabird populations found at the site at risk”, he said.

The expedition will be focussed on eradicating the rodent population and assessing the islands for any other problems. The documentary will be used to bring attention to the problems facing Suwarrow’s birds, and highlight the challenges of island restoration. It will premiere at the BirdLife World Congress, to be held in Ottawa, Canada in June of 2013.

According to Don Stewart, BirdLife Director for the Pacific Partnership, the successful applicant is expected to have a broad range of skills (and not be scared of living a little rough). “We’re searching for somebody with the full package of skills from story-boarding, to filming and editing, and who is willing to be part of a month-long expedition to an extremely remote Pacific atoll,” he said. Bon voyage to the lucky filmmaker!

To find out more about BirdLife’s requirements, please see here: Birdwatch UK

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