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ZDF 2014, 30 minutes

Ransacked trash cans, frightened hikers, killed pets – those are typical signs of the presence of bears. When the “problem bear” Bruno held Germany in suspense in the summer of 2006, he paid for it with his life. But the bear population in the Alps is growing, and young bears wander north every year. It’s only a question of time until they reach Germany. Yet in the popular imagination bears remain both cuddly teddies and murderous beasts. Can we really dwell side by side with bears? In Romania, Brown Bears still roam the woods by the thousands and regularly enter inhabited areas. We have much to learn from our European neighbors about dealing with these animals – for Bruno’s brothers are already on the rise.

Camera: Michael Habermehl, Axel Gomille
Written and directed by: Axel Gomille

ZDF 2013, 45 minutes

Snow Leopards were once widely distributed in the high mountains of Asia. Kyrgyzstan had one of the world’s largest populations, but state-sponsored campaigns to trap animals for zoos during the Soviet era and poaching in more recent times have led to a collapse of the populations. The German Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union NABU is doing something about it. It runs a branch office in Kyrgyzstan and a rehabilitation center where injured animals and confiscated Snow Leopards are cared for. A conservationist task force pursues poachers and sets up camera traps in order to learn more about the hidden life of these big cats. For apart from their tracks they are rarely documented – they live like ghosts in their secluded mountain world. But how do you save a phantom?

Camera: Michael Habermehl, Mark Smith
Written and directed by: Axel Gomille

ZDF 2013, 30 minutes

The wild tiger population has declined in its entire range by a dramatic 96 percent. Today there are at most 4000 wild tigers left in all of Asia. In India, all the tigers in two tiger reserves disappeared from under the nose of the authorities, probably through poaching – an ecological catastrophe and a blow to prestige. Motivated by the seriousness of the situation, Indian conservationists are blazing a new trail. They’re trying to save wild tigers through a new experiment: they raise orphaned tiger cubs and return them to nature in order to replenish lost populations. Will they be successful? Will the animals become a danger to people? If this experiment succeeds, it would open completely new ways to protect the last tigers.

Camera: Nalla Muthu
Written and directed by: Axel Gomille

ZDF 2012, 30 minutes

The Serengeti in Tanzania is one of the last intact ecosystems on earth. That this paradise was preserved while so many others were destroyed we largely owe to the German professor and conservationist Bernhard Grzimek, who conducted pioneering work to protect the Serengeti in the 1950s. Later generations of dedicated conservationists, like Markus Borner and his team from Frankfurt Zoological Society, continued Grzimek’s work. This documentary accompanies today’s conservationists in their efforts to preserve the magnificent natural setting and animal life of the African savanna.

Camera: Michael Habermehl, Reinhard Radke
Written and directed by: Axel Gomille

ZDF 2012, 30 minutes

Beavers fell trees, build dams and thereby create wetlands. In many parts of Europe, where these rodents were long persecuted, they are now viewed as an important partner in nature conservation for that very reason. This film accompanies the relocation of a beaver family that is captured in Germany and expected to create valuable wetlands in Denmark at no cost. The situation in South America is completely different. There, the animals were imported because of their fur and are now destroying the forest. A paradoxical situation: in South America people try to eradicate them, while in Europe conservationists are bringing them back. But they are both attempts to correct the mistakes of the past.

Camera: Christoph Stolle, Hernan Menendez, Uwe Müller
Written and directed by: Axel Gomille

ZDF 2012, 45 minutes

In this episode of ZDF’s second season of “Super-Animals” (Terra X series), host Dirk Steffens dares to sneak a peak into the family life of animals. He looks at parents and their offspring. Animal parents have very different strategies to raise their kids. The subjects of the episode “Kindergarten in the Wild” are the lengths many animals go to, and the tricks and methods they use, so that their offspring can get by. Much is reminiscent of human behavior. The venerable halls of Frankfurt’s Senckenberg Museum, where even dinosaurs come to life in computer animations, serve as a backdrop for Dirk Steffens’ presentations.

Camera: Thomas Piechowski, BBC Archive
Written by: Tina Weimer, Axel Gomille

At the Envirofilm Festival 2012 the film received the first prize in the category „Educational and instructive Video Programmes and Films“.

ZDF 2011, 30 minutes

Only a few miles from Berlin, a family of wolves raises their pups. A lone wolf appears before the gates of Hamburg. Twelve wolf packs and several lone animals live in Germany in 2011. Theoretically, we could encounter them during a Sunday stroll. Should we be worried? Is the wolf’s bad image justified? This film shows how wolves are re-settling Germany, highlights conflicts, and examines suggested solutions. Moreover, the film considers the true nature of wolves and the natural behavior of animals that have never known man as an enemy.

Camera: Christoph Stolle, Sebastian Koerner, Richard Matthews
Written and directed by: Axel Gomille

This documentary, together with other films in the ZDF series planet e, received the Hoimar-von-Ditfurth-Prize for exceptional journalism, bestowed by the German Organization for the Environment (Deutsche Umwelthilfe).

Wer hat Angst vorm bösen Wolf
ZDF 2010, 30 minutes

Few animals have as bad a reputation as the wolf. In fairy tales it is often the evil character, devouring anyone including children. Where did such an erroneous image come from? This film travels to Germany and Canada to show how dedicated researchers are trying to reveal the true nature of the ill-famed predator. Even in the former, a highly populated country, wolves are leaving their tracks again, having silently returned from Poland. However, the fear of the wolf seems to be deeply ingrained in our human psyche.

Camera: Christoph Stolle, Sebastian Koerner, Richard Matthews
Written and directed by: Axel Gomille

Der Biber beißt sich durch
ZDF 2010, 15 minutes

Beavers, Europe’s largest rodents, are excellent builders. No other animal has the ability to shape its environment in such a dramatic way. They fell trees to feed on the fresh leaves and bark, and to build dams which maintain a water level that keeps their burrows submerged, allowing them to quickly dive to safety. This extraordinary ability has made beaver conservation highly controversial: farmers and landowners demonise beavers as pests, while conservationists welcome them since beaver ponds are havens for many endangered species.

Camera: Christoph Stolle, Uwe Müller
Written and directed by: Axel Gomille

Die Rückkehr der Wölfe
ZDF 2009, 15 minutes

Wild wolves became extinct in Germany a long time ago, but recently a few animals have migrated back from Poland. And their numbers are on the increase. Almost unnoticed they have reared pups on a military training range and they are now searching for new territories. The return of these predators evokes extreme reactions in the public. For some they are a symbol of reconciliation with nature, others fear for the safety of their kids. In this hot debate, wolf researchers Gesa Kluth and Ilka Reinhardt try to fight prejudices and fear with experience and objective information.

Camera: Christoph Stolle, Sebastian Koerner
Written and directed by: Axel Gomille

Hyänen Lady
ZDF, ZDF-Enterprises & Discovery Communications 2003, 45 minutes

Life in south-western Africa is harsh and full of privations. Due to extreme heat and drought only a few animals manage to exist here. Despite this unforgiving environment, brown Hyenas can cope surprisingly well. Zoologist Ingrid Wiesel from Hamburg is on a mission to find out how they do it.

I spent three months with the team around Rudolf Lammers in the diamond mining areas of Namibia. My role involved scouting the Hyenas, taking stills, and shooting some video.

Pelikane - Am Himmel Afrikas
ZDF, ZDF-Enterprises & Discovery Communications 2001, 52 minutes

For fish-eating birds it is tough to live in Africa. Large parts of the continent are dust-dry – worthless for water birds. Although great white pelicans can be found in many parts of Africa, they breed only in a few colonies – for a reason. The birds need safe breeding sites and large quantities of food. To meet both needs they have to commute. This is why they fly thousands of kilometres across the African continent – Ernst Sasse and I followed them.

For this production we travelled five months together through Africa. While Ernst Sasse filmed the key parts of the film, I assisted on second camera learning a lot along the way. A few minutes of my material appears in the documentary.

Die Löwen vom Gir Forest
Vox, Tierzeit, 2000

Few people know that Asia is home to wild lions. Once the impressive cats ranged from south-eastern Europe to India, but through merciless hunting their numbers plummeted. Today, about 350 of them exist in the area of the Gir Forest northwest of Mumbai. Conservationists hope that the population of the strictly protected cats will recover. Therefore, experienced trackers watch over their well being and follow them on foot through the jungle.

The film by Fritz Jantschke shows not only the lions but also my photographic work in the Gir Forest. I’ve followed the fate of the Asiatic lion for years, so I accompanied this project as field assistant.