The incredible story of a father and his son traveling the world to photograph felines


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Andoni Canela, a renowned nature photographer, embarks with his son Unai on a fascinating adventure. They travel in search of the last big cats on the planet: jaguars, tigers, cougars, cheetahs, leopards, lions… The journey lasts for several years and culminates between the high mountains of Tibet and the Himalayas, where father and son try to find the legendary snow leopard. The difficulty of the challenge, the fabulous expression of wild nature and the sensitivity of Andoni and Unai become the essence of ‘Panteras’, an exciting conservationist plea and a true journey of inner discovery.

This is how Andoni Canela, protagonist and director of this audiovisual work of art, narrates it:

It was in the Andes, in the mountains of Chilean Patagonia, where the idea for the film ‘Panteras’ was born. It happened after watching a cougar disappear over the horizon after a frustrated hunting attempt. With that vision and the cold wind in my face, I began to think about it: to go out in search of all the big cats on the planet. Little by little, the idea took shape. Big cats became the main focus of my work. I selected the five cats of the genus Panthera (jaguar, leopard, tiger, lion and snow panther), two large cats (puma and cheetah) and the largest feline in the Iberian Peninsula, the Iberian lynx. The plan was exciting, but it gave me great respect. These wild cats are not easy at all. I did a rough estimate of time. With total dedication, it would take about four or five years to do it. And infinite patience.

At the beginning of the project, I proposed to my son Unai that he accompany me on trips and be part of the adventure. He accepted without hesitation and has been my traveling companion ever since. When we started, he was a twelve year old boy and he couldn’t reach my shoulder. Now a teenager, he is seventeen and taller than me. We have spent thousands of hours together in deserts, rainforests, mountains, savannas, steppes and forests all types. We have followed the tracks of the felines across four continents. We have enjoyed and also suffered, keeping intact the illusion of the first sightings. Along the way we have made many friends among the peoples who live with these cats and also with those who protect and study them. We have shared our passion with all of them, learning through their experiences about animals and about life itself.

The fragile situation of the last big cats and the challenge of their conservation is the starting point for Panteras. Will the felines survive the continuous threats they face? Will subsequent generations manage to coexist with lions, tigers, and cheetahs? The journey takes us in search of these questions, to meet the leading felines and to live adventures in the great natural sanctuaries of the planet: the Brazilian jungles of the Pantanal, the steppes of Patagonia, the Kalahari desert, the jungles of Sri Lanka, the forests of southern India, the Mediterranean mount of the Sierra Morena, the savannas of the Masai Mara and the Serengeti, the Tibetan plateau and the Himalayan mountains.

Here you can see the trailer for ‘Panthers’:

Andoni Canela has worked since 1994 as a nature photographer and documentary maker. His first documentary feature film ‘Unai’s journey’ premiered in theaters in 2016. In 2017, it premiered on the television channel Cuatro, in prime time, the docu-reality ‘Wild spirit’. He has published a dozen books on wildlife, nature and the environment and publishes regularly in National Geographic magazine.

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