In September 2022, researcher and film-maker Saxon Bosworth released the first of a film trilogy focused on nature conservation in Georgia. “Like an Animal” (ცხოველივით) is the story of Georgian conservationist Nika Kerdikoshvili, who is working in Lagodekhi to protect the Caucasian Tur. The Tur is a wild goat species living in the Caucasian Mountains whose numbers have suffered greatly in recent decades due to poaching.
This was followed by his second film, made in the Eagle Gorge of Dedoplistkaro, Kakheti, which told us the story of two Georgian wildlife conservationists and one group of misunderstood creatures. Vultures have a commonly unknown, yet crucial role in our wild ecosystems: They are “nature’s clean-up crew”, in the words of Director of Vulture Conservation Foundation, José Tavares, who offers commentary in the film. “Vanishing Sky Lords” (გაუჩინარებული ცის ღმერთები) explores this role vultures have in nature, their public perception, presence in ancient mythical tales, and dramatic disappearance in recent decades.
In June this year, the final piece of Saxon Bosworth’s wildlife conservation trilogy was released: Mr. Velvet Scoter (მისტერ გარიელი), exploring the life of Nika Paposhvili, the village of Tabatskuri, and the vulnerable Velvet Scoter.
Since we last spoke to him, Saxon has taken up the role of Director of the NGO Nature Conservation Georgia. We sat down with him to discuss his projects, inspiration and hopes for Georgia’s biodiversity protection looking ahead.
Now your trilogy is complete, what do you have planned next?
I have just started a new role, joining NGO Nature Conservation Georgia. It is a remarkable, young team of people who have been a great source of inspiration since I met them last summer, when they were creating – the now iconic – velvet scoter mural in the village of Tabatskuri. It’s an honor to be working with them, and a top focus of mine moving forward. I see this as a new chapter of my mission to ‘communicate on the untold stories of the natural world’!
What about Georgia has left the biggest impression on you?
For me, Georgia has been the place in the world where I have been able to find community, people to learn from and go on adventures and create with. Here, I must mention Nika Kerdikoshvili and Nika Paposhvili (the focuses of “Like an Animal” and “Mr. Velvet Scoter” respectively) whose commitment and passion to learning about nature generate an electric energy empowering to be around. Being in the field with these guys are some of the fondest memories of my entire life.
Are you optimistic about the future of the species you have documented (and what more needs to be done, and by whom)?
From my limited perspective, I would say with each species, the answer to that question is different. I continue to work closely with Nika Paposhvili in all ways I can to support his efforts to save the Velvet Scoters of the Caucasus, a population that remains highly vulnerable. That reality doesn’t discourage Nika, and so I would like to imagine my films transmit the idea that each individual can make a very big difference.
Congratulations on your new role as Director of Nature Conservation Georgia. What does the role entail?
Thank you! Fresh from the print shop – we are delighted to announce the release of our new book, ‘Urban Birds of Georgia’, supported by UNDP. The idea with this book is to promote the joy and magic of connecting with nature, and birdwatching, but from an urban environment, where often the biodiversity around us can be overlooked. You can go to ‘Citybirds.ge‘ to learn more about our book, and sign up to get a copy!
This project is very much a representation of our goals, to work to protect the biodiversity of Georgia by raising awareness in local communities about environmental issues and their importance. To maintain and cherish the harmony between us, humans, and nature.
One of the things I believe makes Nature Conservation Georgia unique, is how they, starting from long before my involvement, have been telling stories and conveying important messages using art. For any readers with young ones, we have a Wildlife Art class for kids being run by our Art Director, Luka Tkemaladze at the Art East Studio. There are a few places left, so do get in touch for more information!
Saxon Bosworth’s films “Like an Animal”, “Vanishing Sky Lords”, and Mr. Velvet Scoter are available on YouTube. The films are with English subtitles, and come with optional Georgian and Armenian subtitles. You can follow Saxon’s future projects on Instagram, @saxonbosworth.