French director red-faced after pink flamingo disaster

July 2, 2018
France Nature Environnement filed a complaint for damage to a protected species, saying the disruption of flamingos in the Camargue during the brooding season led one of every 10 pairs to abandon their nests

A French director said Monday he would abandon filming at a Mediterranean wetlands after a pilot sparked a panic among a huge flock of pink flamingos, causing hundreds of them to abandon their eggs.

The pilot of an was scouting locations for Nicolas Vanier's film "Give Me Wings" in the Camargues region this month when he zeroed in on the only wild of flamingos in France.

"A flight plan had indeed been given to the indicating the precise areas to avoid," Vanier told AFP, adding that the operator was not directly employed by his production company.

"They wanted to have some fun by making the birds scatter—I was outraged," he said.

The France Nature Environnement association filed a complaint for damage to a protected species, saying the disruptions during the key brooding season led one of every 10 pairs to abandon their nests.

"The presence of this emblematic species... required the utmost precautions to be taken," the association said.

"Five hundred pairs of the 4,500 in the colony definitively abandoned their egg," it said.

Vanier, also a writer and adventurer known for including "Wolf" and "The Last Trapper", offered to make amends by sponsoring a flock and inviting environmental groups to help present the film and use it for educational purposes.

That apparently wasn't enough to settle the controversy, and Vanier said he would finish filming his new movie—about a scientist's passion for wild geese—in Norway.

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5 / 5 (2) Jul 02, 2018
For a good documentary on flamingos, I recommend Disney Nature's "The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos". It's production team worked hard on desolate Lake Natron and surrounding salt flats in northern Tanzania. (They did not spook the flamingos.) The soundtrack by the Cinematic Orchestra is fantastic. Their hauntingly beautiful 'Arrival of the Birds' was also used as the music at the end of the Hawking movie "The Theory of Everything".

Da Schneib
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 02, 2018
Given the company didn't follow the director's instructions to avoid disturbing the nesting flamingos, I'd say this looks like an idiot who doesn't respect the photographic subjects behaving irresponsibly. Perhaps the director can make this clear in court, but French courts are so weird that I have to say I wouldn't take a chance on it.
5 / 5 (2) Jul 02, 2018
Agreed, DS, that pilot should face consequences.
Da Schneib
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 02, 2018
@carbon but the director shouldn't. And that's the sticking point; I don't know how French law deals with things like this.
not rated yet Jul 05, 2018
DS, I don't see where the article explicitly says the director/his company is in trouble. Doesn't say who the complaint is filed against. OK, just looked elsewhere.
France Nature Environnement, a conservation group, has lodged a legal complaint for intentional disturbance of a protected species with public prosecutors.

They will decide whether to press charges against the company that organised the flights or Mr Vanier or the production company, Radar Films.
The proper target is the pilot and/or his company.
not rated yet Jul 05, 2018
I must admit I missed the last part about Vanier's film being about wild geese. I thought he was doing one on European flamingos, hence the comment about the African flamingos well covered in Crimson Wing. (The European flamingos seem to be wusses nesting in mere salt marshes while the Africans flamingos nest on Lake Natron's brutal salt flats.)

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