"EXTREME PLANET" - THE IDEA
Not many regions of the globe centralize, in one very limited space, extremely diverse ecosystems. Though it is the case in Peru. This country shelters three different ecosystems: The Amazon Rainforest, The Andes Glacier and the Pacific Coast's desert.
It's this particularity that convinced Cyril Ruoso, one of the best nature photographers in the world, and Emmanuelle Grundmann, scientific journalist, to go off to explore Peru's rare animal and plant species. Their journey will give them a unique opportunity to observe the adaptation capacities of nature in extreme conditions: humidity, cold, altitude, drought.
Facing many obstacles (extreme humidity, unclear water, unpredictable rise in the water, freezing cold, summits deprived of oxygen, unattainable cliffs...), the couple will have to show an important capacity of reaction, organisation and adaptation to these hostile environments. He'll roll out numerous solutions and conducts, often hand-crafted, to adopt, allowing them to protect their equipment, stock their images, samples and information, climb up trees, photograph underwater, at the top of the canopy or at the very steep of a cliff.
Their engagement and passion is what drives Cyril and Emmanuelle towards this expedition. Their charming personality, their physical and scientific implication on the ground, as well as their questioning seduced the director Jean-Thomas Renaud, who's decided to follow them and direct a series of documentaries on their expedition.
THE "EXTREME PLANET" ADVENTURE TOLD BY CYRIL AND EMMANUELLE
Our first expedition will be dedicated to the Pacific Coast. We've planned to get to Peru at the end of october 2013, a strategic period in terms of migration and animal reproduction. Our trek will be 24 days long.
First stop : San Juan de Marcona, in the south of the Ica region, where we'll meet Michael Macek, an american zoologist, head of a wide program of preservation of the Humboldt penguin. It's the only area in the world where we can see a penguin going up a dune in the desert. On this coast which borders one of the driest deserts in the world, the explosion of wild life is due to the oceanic phenomenon of upwelling. The rising towards the surface of Humboldts cold current is favourable to the development of anchovies, main source of feeding of the penguin and numerous other birds and marine mammals.
Howerver, the data Michael Macek has gathered during several years show à clear dicrease, result of the overfishing, but also of the underwater pipelines who produce toxic seepage in the ocean. The population of penguins is, nowadays, threatened.
The next part of the expedition will take place next to the city of Ica, in an oasis of strange trees lost in the middle of the desert. They're huarangos, a legendary species in this part of South-America.
Their roots sink deep into the earth and reach up to 50 meters of depth to get water. By bringing this water up to the surface, huarangos allow a whole biodiversity to proliferate. However, their aren't many huarangos left owing to constant deforestation and wood exploitation. The animals who feed on its pasture exposes its roots to the heat, causing the huarangos to die.
We'll meet with Olivier Whaley, from Kew's Royal Botanic Gardens, who's leading a preservation project in the region. With his mountaineer harness, Cyril will climb up the peak of the trees to take pictures of endangered species of which the survival rests upon the Huarango. Mainly birds, like the Slender-billed Finch and the Vermilion Flycatcher. We'll contribute to the work of Olivier Whaley by raising awareness among the local population, by showing them pictures of the animals who find shelter in the huarangos bosques.
To end this journey, we will head back to the coast. Cyril will take a hand-glider to go along the steep edges of the coast and will take exceptional panoramic shots of surreal sceneries assaulted with sea lions, penguins and cormorants.
Then, we will head towards the Independencia island where we will be looking for a bird: the Inca Stern. For his shots, Cyril will be using one of his famous invention: a device allowing him to make the camera go down the cliff by means of a rope unwinding from a pulley.
Afterwards, Sophie Bertrand, researcher at the Institute of Research for Development and doctor in marine biology, will take us to the Pescadores Island, where she runs her experiences. She follows the evolution of two types of birds, the Peruvian Booby and the Guanay Cormorant, and has noticed a considerable decrease of their population. She's trying to prove that the harbour activity in Ancon pushes the birds to go further and further in search of food. The Guanay cormorans are also victims of poaching.
Finally, we will embark on board of a ship with Arnaud Bertrand from the IRD. The program includes discovering an incredible marine biodiversity in these waters invaded by giant squids. Their size can reach more than two meters, sign of an important climate change.
Emmanuelle Grundmann :
As a child, Emmanuelle has dreamt of the Amazon forest. Of monkeys climbing up trees, and colored birds with whom so she could fly above the canopy. By her 6th birthday, she had made her decision. She would become an ornithologist. In the end, her studies lead her towards the world of primates, and she immersed herself for a few month in the Borneo Forest, alongside the orang-utans. Her grandfather was a printer and helped her develop a passion for books. As for her passion for litterature and poetry, it came from a french teacher. However, in biology, dreams and words don't really fit in. And then one day, she flies over the Amazon Forest and discovers horrible images of disasters, burnt and dismantled silva. Since then, she's been writting and travelling the world, especially the tropics, to talk about the influence of men on nature. About his relationship with the earth whom he doesn't understand anymore, damaging it, irreparably. Frome these journeys, Emmanuelle brings back stories, encounters, joy and anger. She writes them all down on paper and publishes them in magazines such as Terre Sauvage, Sciences & Vie Junior and Causette with whom we regularly collaborate, and in books such as « Ces forêts qu’on assassine », « Demain seuls au monde, l’homme sans la biodiversité » or « L’homme est un singe comme les autres » and many children books, because it's during this childhood spent reading that she learned to love the forest, the animals, the Earth. Emmanuelle is also very implicated in volunteer work with a few societies who work on saving the biodiversity, primates and their forests.
Cyril Ruoso :
For Cyril, his passion for nature was born behind a camera. As a professional reporter-photographer, he travels the world in search of any feathered, fury or scaled story to share with us. His encounter with the Borneo orang-utans has turned his work towards our primate cousins as we can see in his books « Être singe », « L’homme est un singe comme les autres » and « Grands singes ». Fascinated by the exuberance and the luxuriance of the tropical forests, he increases the number of his photo coverages in these ecosystems to show to the world these lands threatened by chainsaws. He's also devoted to savoir-faire and the fate of the last free men. A collaboration with The Forest Trust has taken him directly on the Baka territory of Cameroun and his work there gave birth to a book « Il était une fois la forêt » (Once Upon A Forest). Cyril works with a lot of french and foreign magazines (Terre Sauvage, Paris Match, Figaro Magazine, National Geographic US, BBC Wildlife, Life...) and his photographs, regularly exhibited, are released by the agencies MINDEN/Joël Halioua Editorial and BIOSPHOTO. He won first price at the Wildlife photographer of the year awards in 2008 in the category mammal behavior. His work has been shown in numerous exhibitions. Recently, an exhibition on the tropical forest has been conceived for the Fondation Prince Albert II de Monaco, and "Il pleut, il mouille", a photographic and educational exhibition for children on the subject of water, organised for "Les enfants de la mer" and the AFPAN.