“Nothing Comes Easy”: A chat with Adrian Steirn about ‘The world’s most wanted leopard’

“Nothing Comes Easy”: A chat with Adrian Steirn about ‘The world’s most wanted leopard’

Nina Rothe for Huffington Post

Sometimes nature gets caught up in the crossfires of conflicts and human issues. In the case of the Caucasian leopard, also known at the Persian leopard, the species has been stuck in war zones, and confined to barren, uninhabitable terrains. While our President Elect may not believe in global warming, he can’t deny that the world is in upheaval and migrations, by the millions and fueled by feuds, are happening around the globe. That leaves animals, often ones already on the endangered species list, to fend for themselves.

The positioning of the natural habitat of the Caucasian leopard puts its survival at risk. Listed as officially “Endangered on the IUCN Red List,” this large feline, the largest subspecies of the leopards, is now confined to the greater part of the Western Caucasus, between Iran, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, with a few more remaining in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

It is in fact in Azerbaijan that the upcoming Nat Geo WILD documentary The World’s Most Wanted Leopard takes place. Following filmmaker (and in my opinion diplomat, storyteller, nature aficionado and all around cool guy) Adrian Steirn and his team, which includes local guide and “Leopard Man” Babakhan Rakhmanov and Victor Lukarevsky, a world-renowned Russian big cat specialist, we the audience find ourselves in the midst of a thriller, complete with twists and turns worthy of a mystery narrative film. Will these men find the elusive leopard, and will they be able to outdo it in capturing its image for posterity? The answer is one I won’t give away, but lets just say the outcome of this film will affect us all, in real life. It’s that important.

I caught up with Steirn to find out more about his journey, which was aided in part by an organization in Azerbaijan called IDEA. Here’s what he had to say about his voyage to find this elusive, beautiful, mystical big cat, the result of which airs in December worldwide on Nat Geo WILD. And what we can all do, starting today, to help save the world.

In your documentary, you say something that really struck me — “I pick up my camera to do one thing — make positive change”. Shouldn’t that be the responsibility of all human beings, to work for a better place? And shouldn’t all artists pick up their artistic tools to make social relations, climate, human existence and nature better?

Adrian Steirn: Conservation is self-preservation; so making positive change is absolutely a shared responsibility. But humans are inherently self-serving. We only start to care when the water runs out, so to speak — we can always try to do more.

Do you have any updates on Babakhan, your wonderfully charming guide in Azerbaijan?

Steirn: Babakhan is immensely proud to know that the documentary is going around the world. He is an ardent conservationist and deeply appreciates the support.

What has happened since you filmed in 2014, with the Caucasian leopard, but also with the initiative started by you and IDEA?

Steirn: IDEA and the government of Azerbaijan are working immensely hard to ensure the continued protection of the Caucasian leopard. They are looking at breeding and relocation programs and pouring resources into their national parks and holistic conservation.

Do you think we, as human beings, hold the power of one, to make a difference as singular persons?

Steirn: One person can always make change by creating motivation for many. It starts with the individual, who has to empower a community.

You clearly are part filmmaker, part preservationist, part diplomat, part cross country athlete and all world saver. Does it ever prove challenging to be Adrian Steirn, and in which situations?

Steirn: Nothing comes easy. We only have finite time and resources on our planet. By surrounding myself with capable, resourceful people, I have been able to overcome certain hurdles. But nothing is ever as easy as you think it’ll be starting out.

And to someone who has never met you and doesn’t know you, how would you describe yourself?

Steirn: As a photographer and filmmaker with a high level of determination. I don’t give up easily.

Three things we can all begin to do today, that will help save the world?

Steirn: Educate yourself. Be empathetic. Find ways to take people with you — don’t preach at your audience.

Uzbek-Korean JV to buy electrical products via tender
Uzbek-Korean JV to buy electrical products via tender
Azerbaijani Main Healthcare Department opens tender to repair buildings and equipment
Azerbaijani Main Healthcare Department opens tender to repair buildings and equipment
Turkmenistan's Turkmennebit opens tender for purchase of equipment
Turkmenistan's Turkmennebit opens tender for purchase of equipment
Loading Bars
Number of COVID-2019 cases across globe up by over 463,000 in past day — WHO
Israel reports 798 new COVID-19 cases, 330,796 in total
Units of the Azerbaijan Army entered the Kalbajar region
Pennsylvania certifies election results for Biden
Iran, Qatar sign MoU to cooperate on economy
Kalbajar region of Azerbaijan being liberated from Armenian occupation today
China, Japan eye closer cooperation amid COVID-19 pandemic
Construction of the TAPI gas pipeline in Afghanistan territory will continue next year
ICESCO SecGen sends letter to President Aliyev
Azerbaijani, Russian presidents hold phone talks
Urban transformation back on track for ‘abandoned’ Istanbul neighborhood
“Scorched earth” strategy of Armenians leaving Azerbaijani Kalbajar region did not escape EC attention - report
President Rouhani: Iran to be able to mass produce coronavirus vaccine soon
Turkmenistan is convinced of the need to attract political-diplomatic tools to achieve peace and prosperity in Afghanistan
Georgian banks see increase in interest income
Azerbaijan’s revenues from export of hazelnuts down
Azerbaijan’s import of plastics and plastic products drops
Turkmenistan will continue to cooperate with Afghanistan on security issues
Nursing homes will be first to get COVID-19 vaccine in Spain
Troops from Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan who took part in Karabakh conflict, return home (PHOTO)
Speaker of Azerbaijani parliament takes part in int’l conference initiated by Turkish parliament, PACE (PHOTO)
Any result that acceptable for Azerbaijan - acceptable for Turkey too, FM says
Volume of paid services in Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic down
Azerbaijan shows aerial footage of Shusha city (VIDEO)
Kazakhstan eyeing to develop information system for accounting of oil and gas condensate
Anglo Asian Mining's production of precious metals in Azerbaijan may decrease
Uzbekistan eyes to increase share of renewable energy sources by 2030
Airbus CEO says industry might need until 2025 to reach pre-crisis levels
Parliament's plan to increase subsides - costly for Iranian government
Ukrainian companies enter Uzbek commodity exchange
National Bank of Georgia reveals data on losses of commercial banks
Import of sugar and confectionery by Azerbaijan down
Demand for Turkish electrical goods on Kazakh market grows in 10M2020
Azerbaijan confirms 1,259 more COVID-19 recoveries
Bahar Azadi gold coin price again falling in Iran
Azerbaijan discloses data on destroyed houses in liberated Fuzuli district
Baku Media Center prepares video covering Armenian vandalism on occupied territories of Azerbaijan (VIDEO)
Russian president hopes for participation of int’l organizations in Karabakh conflict settlement
Power abuse by major states prevents resolving conflicts - Russian FM
Uzbek-Korean JV to buy electrical products via tender
Turkmenistan offers business opportunities for Switzerland in number of fields
North-South Corridor - on Iran's agenda - Minister of Roads and Urban Development of Iran
Turkish, Russian military personnel to jointly patrol in Nagorno-Karabakh - Turkish MoD
Azerbaijan shows footage from Abdal, Gulabli villages of Aghdam district (VIDEO)
Egyptian air operator enters Uzbek market
Uzbekistan to introduce changes to electricity payments in 2021
Iran assigns more funds to complete unfinished projects
Turkmenistan's Turkmennebit opens tender for purchase of equipment
Azerbaijan’s startup sector expects big investments
Iran's ten-month import of steel from Turkey drops
Tesla set to breach $500 billion in market value
State budget for 2021-2023 approved in Kazakhstan following amendments introduction
Kazakhstan's bitumen output exceeds 2020 plan as maintenance works held country-wide
Port of Baku reveals total 10M2020 cargo shipments
New railway vehicles put into operation in Iran
Iran`s Zarif to visit Moscow and Baku despite postponement
Kazakhstan looking to double renewables share in electricity production
Iran continues to cut reliance on oil revenue
Volume of container transshipment between Kazakh, Azerbaijani ports almost triples
LUKOIL refusing plans to construct giant petrochemical complexes
Iran, Qatar sign an extensive Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate cooperation
Switzerland names main trade statistics with Turkmenistan
Dry cargo transshipments through Baku port grow in 10M2020
LUKOIL says reducing oil exports to Europe is inevitable
Georgia receives new buses of modern standards
Georgian hazelnuts exports up
Georgia sees increase in export of tangerines
Ryanair wants to be 'at front of queue' for new 737 MAX order
Azercell’s Mobile Eye Clinic joins campaign for IDPs initiated by the UN (PHOTO)
El Al to launch Tel Aviv - Dubai flights next month
Kazakhstan’s third-quarter economic performance benefits from recovery of oil prices
Azerbaijan informs UNESCO, ISESCO about results of initial monitorings on liberated areas
Turkmenistan’s private sector participates in dev't of poultry farming
Iran discloses plan on creation of new jobs in Yazd Province
Destroyed Armenian positions firing at Azerbaijani army during recent hostilities shown (PHOTOS)
Central Bank of Azerbaijan discloses data from foreign exchange auction
CBI announces Iran's external debt
Azerbaijan starts to grow bananas - Azerbaijani Ministry of Agriculture
Azerbaijani servicemen help Armenians to move belongings from villages of Aghdam district (VIDEO)
PAYSIS expanding range of innovative services in Azerbaijan
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for November 24
E-Space reveals volume of EVs registered in Georgia
Azerbaijan discloses volume of tobacco harvested this season
Russian insurance agency to fund Uzbekistan’s hydrocarbon raw materials production
Iran to boost apple production
Georgia reveals volume of exported apples
Income of Chinese contractor of infrastructural projects in Georgia up
We were able to get necessary international support in key issue for us - President Aliyev
LUKOIL says $40/bbl is worst case scenario for oil prices
If we had not created necessary legal framework for resolving conflict, we could have faced problems today - President Aliyev
Iran registers order at COVAX to buy vaccine
Air traffic reduces in Georgia - EUROCONTROL
Second asphalt layer of Ashgabat-Turkmenabat highway being laid
Russian Export Center discloses value of support for exports to Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan's import of limestone, cement down in 10M2020
Aghdam operation was part of our plans - President Aliyev
Kocharyan and Sargsyan, you have knelt before us - President of Azerbaijan
We will restore the city of Aghdam - President of Azerbaijan
No-one should worry, especially leaders of Western countries - President Aliyev
Pashinyan imprisoning captures all opposition, West remains silent - President Aliyev
All news