Ganzorig Batsaihan, biologist, professional fishing guide, and research partner to the College of Science and the Global Water Center can add one more title to this list: film star. Ganzorig is the subject of a short biographical film, Ganzorig and the River Wolf, that has been chosen as an official selection for the 2018 Wild & Scenic Film Festival. The film explores Ganzorig's experience as a local scientist and fishing guide in Mongolia, following him as he works devotedly to protect taimen, the largest trout in the world. The giant fish is threatened by poaching and environmental changes to their habitat.
Ganzorig has partnered with the College of Science on research into taimen and other threatened fish populations in Mongolia for over 10 years, working closely with professors and researchers for the University's Global Water Center Zeb Hogan and Sudeep Chandra. With the goal of bringing science-based understanding to conserve our global lakes and rivers, the Global Water Center launched the research in Mongolia in 2007.
"Ganzorig has been part of the research team since the beginning," Hogan said. "He first started working with the project as an undergraduate student, then a master's degree student, and now as a biologist and professional fishing guide. We know him as a dedicated scientist and someone who cares about fish and the environment."
The Wild & Scenic Film Festival was started in 2003 as a way to explore and raise awareness of environmental issues through the medium of film. The festival showcases environmental- or adventure-themed films with the mission, as stated on their website, of "transforming festival-goers into activists dedicated to saving our threatened planet." This month's flagship event will have 7,500 attendees and is followed by the festival tour which reaches an audience of 40,000 people each year.
"Film is a powerful medium with the ability to enrapture, enrage and inspire an audience," Wild & Scenic Film Festival Director Melinda Booth said. "Using film to share stories of conservation tragedies, success, and opportunities can lead to action for positive change in a community. Ganzorig and the River Wolf is a film that embodies the spirit of Wild & Scenic, touching on outdoor activities, the impact of dams, and the people working in every corner of the world for the environment."
Ganzorig and the River Wolf was produced by Rob Taylor, Nat Geo WILD's long-time cameraman for the television series Monster Fish with Zeb Hogan, and offers a unique perspective in the world of scientific research and environmentalism.
"There are many films that focus on scientists and explorers going to and learning about new places and new animals. There are far fewer international films that tell the stories of local scientists; their backgrounds, and contributions," Hogan said, "It's an important story."
The College of Science has been supporting research in Mongolia for several years by helping with data collection, funding travel for faculty and research students as well as hosting Ganzorig when he came to Reno, Nevada in 2015 on a study tour.
"The College of Science supports our research and associated outreach activities and has created a supportive educational environment at the University of Nevada, Reno," Hogan said. "That supportive environment makes films like this possible - and allows us to share inspiring stories, like Ganzorig's story, with our community."
The film will be screened Jan. 13-14 in Nevada City and Grass Valley, California. For more information on the Wild and Scenic Film Festival or to attend the screening, visit WildAndScenicFilmFestival.org.