John Vaillant's influences: Conflict tigers and deadly bears

John Vaillant was inspired to write The Tiger after seeing the film Conflict Tiger by documentary filmmaker Sasha Snow. Shot over five weeks on location in the far east of Russia, Conflict Tiger is about tiger hunting. But, like John Vaillant's book, it's about so much more. The film explores how rural communities in the region struggled after the fall of communism, and shows the impact of their actions on the natural world that surrounds them.


Snow stumbled across the story of the man-eating tiger while researching this larger issue. He felt that the story served as a parable for the larger issues facing the Primorye region of Russia. The end result is a haunting film that has garnered many awards, among them a special mention at the Turin Environmental Film Festival, the grand prize at the Trento Film Festival, and the grand prize and audience award at the Green Film Festival.

You can watch a clip from Conflict Tiger below the jump.


A second inspiration for John Vaillant was Sid Marty's 2008 book The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek. This book describes a series of bear attacks in the Rockies during the summer of 1980. Bears were living and foraging extremely close to Banff, Alberta, thanks to a poor crop of berries that season and a garbage disposal system that wasn't bear-proof. When one man died after an attack, a quest to take down the killer bear began. 

As in The Tiger, the story that followed was a fascinating exploration of what happens when human development and the natural world collide.

On April 14, 2008, Sid Marty spoke with CBC Calgary's The Eyeopener about researching and writing the book. You can listen to this interview in the audio clip below!

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Have you seen Conflict Tiger or read The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek? What did you think? How do they compare to The Tiger?

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