Biology Alum Releases “Tiger 24” Into the Wild
Warren Pereira BA ’99 spent more than a decade making Tiger 24, a film that focuses on tiger conservation through the highly publicized removal of a tiger dubbed T-24 from his natural habitat in India.
by Gabe Korer BA ’23
When Warren Pereira BA ’99 graduated from Lewis & Clark, he was driven to create a multitude of impassioned short films. As a biology major, he acknowledges it was an unexpected path; however, it’s one he’s fully embraced due to his love of filmmaking. Making films has been a major part of his life over the past 15 years.
Pereira’s most recent project, Tiger 24, has encapsulated what he hopes to achieve through the documentary form, merging his own unique filmmaking style with important messaging surrounding animal conservation. The film has already received acclaim for depicting the true story of a tiger that was stripped from his habitat in Rajasthan, India, for allegedly killing multiple people who encroached on his territory.
“The story of T-24 had to be told because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime historic story,” Pereira said. “I felt a responsibility to do it because I’m the only person in the world with the 4K ultra-high definition footage on T-24. I went to the limits of investigative journalism to get everything that was needed to make the film.”
Launching a Film Career
Before his arrival at Lewis & Clark, Pereira had spent most of his life in India, where he was a four-time national swimming champion. He later moved to Toronto, Canada, for the last two years of his high school education. While at L&C, Pereira remained heavily involved in swimming as a member of the men’s varsity team, and split his time between the biology and English departments.
After graduating from Lewis & Clark, Pereira wasn’t entirely sure what he wanted to pursue and took some courses in business and computer science. However, he ultimately “fell into film.”
“My degree from L&C was in biology, so the more traditional approach would have been to continue in bio, go to grad school, then do some lab work,” Pereira said. “But I decided to do film and take some film school classes. That’s when I started making short films.”
Pereira moved to Los Angeles to write a feature film, but ended up being intrigued by the stories of endangered tigers in his home country of India. He says what drew him to making this film was that it tied into different parts of his experience and expertise as a filmmaker.
“I decided to make a tiger documentary because originally I’m from India where tigers are an important part of the culture,” Pereira said. “I also studied animal behavior while at L&C, so I had that background. Plus, I obviously had a film background. So I started going to different tiger reserves to find a subject tiger.”
While researching for the film, he visited several of the country’s tiger reserves, and was advised to follow a female tiger due to their frequent activity and smaller territory. However, he became interested in the story of T-24, a male tiger residing in the Ranthambore National Park.
Three years into Pereira’s film project, T-24 was removed from the park and placed into a zoo, which created a national conversation.
“It turned out he was a tiger that had allegedly killed a few people, so there was this big ‘man eater’ sort of connotation around him,” Pereira said. “T-24’s case eventually went to the Supreme Court of India, billboards were erected, TV and news shows were made about him. It galvanized an entire nation.”
Wildlife vs. Human Activity
Tiger 24 has a strong conservation message, with its focus on preserving the natural habitats of large predators. India’s own history of conservation can be traced back to the start of Project Tiger in 1973, which defined the area through which tigers would be protected, known as the core area. Today, the National Tiger Conservation Authority, or NTCA, is the present-day body, which provides guidelines to the local state governments that run each tiger reserve. As was the case with T-24, the state government has the authority to remove tigers from core areas if they represent a threat to human life.
To Pereira, this is a dilemma that extends well beyond the tiger to animal territories worldwide that are rapidly shrinking due to human expansion.
“I think T-24’s story is emblematic of what a lot of other large predators are going through across the world,” Pereira said. “We love these large predators, but they need space and a lot of it. Without that space, they are not going to survive. They are going to go extinct.”
Pereira notes that through preserving a tiger’s habitat, the ecosystem and biodiversity within it will be preserved as well. In telling the story of T-24, he hopes that his documentary will serve as an engaging way to uncover the importance of conservation.
“A charismatic character like T-24 allows you to look at conservation in a way that’s entertaining and compelling while still bringing up important issues,” said Pereira.
Future Film Project
Pereira has new film projects in the works, including a documentary about a tiger named Bamera. It’s another commentary on the lack of space for large predators, but this time, Pereira plans to take a different approach to telling the story.
“I want to have it be about 50 percent with my live-action documentary footage in the field and about 50 percent through animation, because there are gaps in the story that I don’t have on camera. I think it will be very compelling to mix the formats as I envision it,” said Pereira.
Ultimately, Pereira wants people to draw their own conclusions about the best possible remedies for addressing the conservation issues raised in his films. He recognizes the value in having discourse around these topics.
“I don’t want to say I have a solution or a prescription for these problems,” said Pereira, “but I think my films start that conversation.”
Tiger 24 will be available for streaming on all major digital platforms starting December 6. It can also be purchased on iTunes, Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, and Google Play. A high-quality Blu-ray edition with special features will also be available. Visit the Tiger 24 website for a schedule of film screenings and festivals.