Author(s): Sooyong Park
There are five races of tiger on our planet and all but one live in tropical regions: the Siberian Tiger Panthera tigris altaica is the exception. Mysterious and elusive, and with only 350 remaining in the wild, the Siberian tiger remains a complete enigma. One man has set out to change this. Sooyong Park has spent twenty years tracking and observing these elusive tigers. Each year he spends six months braving sub-zero temperatures, buried in grave-like underground bunkers, fearlessly immersing himself in the lives of Siberian tigers. As he watches the brutal, day-to-day struggle to survive the harsh landscape, threatened by poachers and the disappearance of the pristine habitat, Park becomes emotionally and spiritually attached to these beautiful and deadly predators. No one has ever been this close: as he comes face-to-face with one tiger, Bloody Mary, her fierce determination to protect her cubs nearly results in his own bloody demise. Poignant, poetic and fiercely compassionate, The Great Soul of Siberia is the incredible story of Park's unique obsession with these compelling creatures on the very brink of extinction, and his dangerous quest to seek them out to observe and study them. Eloquently told in Park's distinctive voice, it is a personal account of one of the most extraordinary wildlife studies ever undertaken.
The author is an award-winning documentary filmmaker who has spent over twenty years studying the Siberian tiger. There are just 450 of these magnificent animals in the wild, they are 25% larger than their cousins in warmer climes, and more intelligent. But their intelligence can't save them from mankind’s ruthless predation. The author, in trying to understand and study them, goes to a great amount of trouble. He stays in a hole in the ground for the six months of winter in eastern Siberia and waits patiently for the magnificent brief sightings of one tiger family in particular, a mother with her three cubs. In whiling away the time in between sightings, he reads, watches other wildlife, the weather and a family of mice who take up residence in his hole. The story of the mice and how they unknowingly risk the author’s life makes for dramatic reading. The author takes us on a wonderful journey of discovery and understanding of how these tigers live, think and die. I found myself being absorbed into their lives and grieving with the author when tragedy strikes. A great read for everyone who loves nature and wants to understand about some of the world's greatest animals. - Peter
Praise for The Great Soul of Siberia: 'If you read one nature book this year, make it this one.' Mark Cocker, Spectator 'Wonderful ... deserves to become a classic of wildlife literature.' The Times 'The year's best wildlife book could already have arrived' Wanderlust 'It's a masterpiece. One of the most moving outdoor texts I've read in years. This is a book about love - one exceptional human being's love for the wild, beautiful and persecuted creatures to which his life is dedicated. It also comprehends a fortitude and hardihood so far beyond the everyday I was left shaking my head in astonished admiration.' The Great Outdoors 'Sooyong's magical prose led me into little-known and breathtakingly beautiful forests, exposed me to the bitter cold of long winter months, and revealed the secret life of that most mysterious of cats, the Siberian tiger.' Jane Goodall 'A triumph of nature writing; an original and authentic voice from the wilderness.' Jonathan and Angela Scott 'A beautifully patient, deep-textured exploration of an unknown part of the world and its ancient guardian, the majestic Amur tiger, by a wonderfully empathetic naturalist.' Ruth Padel, author of Tigers in Red Weather
Sooyong Park is an award-winning documentary filmmaker who has devoted over twenty years to studying and filming Siberian tigers. His groundbreaking tiger research was the subject of the film Siberian Tiger Quest. When not in Siberia, he lives in Seoul, Korea. Based on his philosophy that 'nature is to be observed, not directed', his work involves unimaginable patience and a painstaking devotion to becoming part of nature. His profound insights into the natural world and his warm affection for living creatures reveal that animals, like humans, have souls.