documentary filmmaker Rémy Masséglia observes and films the traces of invisible animals

He defines himself as an image hunter. The “self-taught” director immortalizes nature. After his documentary, “Naïs au pays des loups”, Rémy Masséglia and his daughter set out to meet the new mammals of the Mercantour before and after the storm Alex.

Director Rémy Masséglia lives in Breil-sur-Roya, in the Alpes-Maritimes. It was there that with his daughter Naïs, then one year old, he set off on the trail of the wolves of the Mercantour national park, in search of beautiful images. A documentary was born, “Naïs au pays des loups”, several times awarded.

And following this shoot, the father and daughter decided to embark on another adventure: following, observing and filming animal species in the Mercantour National Park. These are so-called “invisible” or even “ghostly” animals.. Why these qualifiers? It is simply not known if they already existed in the valley, or if they appeared. The project is called Wildlife Man Initiative, it is funded by the Prince Albert II Foundation.

At first, we wanted to make a good film with Naïs and it ended with scientific monitoring, as a species specialist with the Mercantour National Park and the Prince Albert II Foundation!

The territory chosen is no more than one square kilometer around Breil-sur-Roya. It is located in the heart of the Mercantour National Park, which has been given the green light. Because for any shooting of a professional or commercial nature, you have to apply for authorization and comply with specifications so as not to disturb wildlife.

For a year, 6 cameras that are automatically triggered at the slightest movement recorded the passage of an otter, previously spotted by Laurent Malthieux, a naturalist from the Park.

Rémy and his daughter have also gone on the trail of the mammal in the wild.

The rhythm is necessarily adapted to the little girl and her schooling.

With Naïs, we have always taken binoculars, a bathing suit, armbands, sometimes an inflatable boat and water shoes, we transform our surveys into a game. We have gone from wolves to otters and polecats, we open your eyes to new things.

First observation: the animal is indeed present in the valleythe cameras positioned in places prized by the mammal attest to this.

Droppings, about thirty scratches in total, were also recovered by the director.

The European otter in Roya-Bévéra

©Rémy Masséglia

You have to learn to read the tracks, to put yourself in the logic of the animal, in its habits. The genetic material will be analyzed in a laboratory that works with the Parc du Mercantour.

Rémy Masséglia, director

And this otter, which has a territory of about 30 kilometers, was present in the Roya valley before the storm Alex, and it seems to have moved after the disaster to a tributary, the Bévéra, and perhaps even more. far. How many animals are there in this area? Genetic analyzes will speak.

Another discovery in June 2019: a small black animal with a white mask that looks like a ferret.

It is in fact a European polecat, a small nocturnal and very fast carnivore which normally lives in humid areas.

We saw groups of 5 small polecats, it’s rare among mustelids, we had 200 detections of polecats in one year.

Storm Alex has in no way changed the habits of this little animal which continues to reproduce in the same area, and which perhaps lives in other sectors of the Mercantour.

In an area which, in the space of one night, became devastated on the night of October 2 to 3, 2020 with the passage of storm Alex, the fauna and flora suffered considerable damage.

New mammals in the Mercantour

©Rémy Masséglia, Mercantour Nationzl Park, Prince Albert II Foundation

But nature is resilient. Rémy Masséglia and his daughter Naïs see this every day as they travel through their beloved mountains.

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