15.05.2017

Flood of prizes for IKI multimedia project

Two workers wearing safty helmets cleaning solar panels on a rooftop

Screenshot of web documentary report ‘Saigas in distress’. Photo: IKI

The multimedia report ‘Saigas in distress’ from Deutsche Welle’s Global Ideas television series has been awarded three prizes within two weeks. The documentary takes viewers on a research expedition to study the Saiga antelopes in the Kazakh steppe. Videos, photos and sounds from the adventurous trip to the largely unsettled expanses of Kazakhstan were combined using multimedia software to create an exciting narrative story. As a result, ‘Saigas in distress’ makes viewers themselves feel like participants in the expedition. The Global Ideas project of Deutsche Welle is funded through the International Climate Initiative (IKI) established by the German Federal Environment Ministry (BMUB).

The video received awards in two categories at the highly-regarded New York Festival: gold in the category ‘Online Educational Program’ and silver in the category ‘Online Special Event’. It also won gold at the World Media Festival in Hamburg in the category ‘Web/E-Learning and Education’.

In making the multimedia report, Global Ideas reporter Inga Sieg, cameraman Axel Warnstedt and sound engineer Moritz Polomski witnessed firsthand how protecting species can be a challenging and exciting task characterised by both successes and failures. In May 2016, the team had the exclusive opportunity to accompany scientists from the Frankfurt Zoological Society (ZGF) on the research expedition to the Saiga antelopes in the Kazakh steppe. In an area as large as France, the scientists tried to find the extremely shy Saiga antelopes with their characteristic trunk-like nose in order to collect data on the size of the population and health of the animals. The results of the expedition were awaited with great interest as the survival of the entire species was uncertain.

Until early 2015, the protective measures taken to preserve the Saiga antelopes appeared to have been successful, since the population, which had suffered greatly from poaching, had significantly increased. Then catastrophe hit. During the calving period in May 2015 over 200,000 Saiga antelopes, or 90 per cent of the population, died completely unexpectedly. The cause of the mass die-off became clear over the next few months: the seemingly harmless bacteria Pasteurella multocida caused the death of the animals. But why so many Saiga antelopes were suddenly killed by the bacteria initially remained a mystery. The expedition’s main aim was to research the health of the surviving animals and the reasons behind the mass die-off – but first the scientists had to actually find the animals. This became the greatest challenge of the trip, as the wary animals can only be examined during the approximately two-week calving period.

You can find the full-length report here:
http://www.dw.com/german/saigas (German)
www.dw.com/saigas (English)
www.dw.com/spanish/saigas (Spanish)

Since 2009, the Global Ideas series has produced around 280 television reports on measures aimed at climate change mitigation and species protection. As a result, both the Facebook page and the Twitter feed of Global Ideas have attracted many more viewers and followers, with 413,000 following the series’ updates on Facebook and 21,800 on Twitter.