The Great Soul of Siberia by Sooyong Park
There are five races of tiger on our planet and all but one live in tropical regions: the Siberian Tiger Panthera tigris altaica is the exception. Mysterious and elusive, and with only 350 remaining in the wild, the Siberian tiger remains a complete enigma. One man has set out to change this.
Sooyong Park has spent twenty years tracking and observing these elusive tigers. Each year he spends six months braving sub-zero temperatures, buried in grave-like underground bunkers, fearlessly immersing himself in the lives of Siberian tigers. As he watches the brutal, day-to-day struggle to survive the harsh landscape, threatened by poachers and the disappearance of the pristine habitat, Park becomes emotionally and spiritually attached to these beautiful and deadly predators. No one has ever been this close: as he comes face-to-face with one tiger, Bloody Mary, her fierce determination to protect her cubs nearly results in his own bloody demise.
Poignant, poetic and fiercely compassionate, The Great Soul of Siberia is the incredible story of Park’s unique obsession with these compelling creatures on the very brink of extinction, and his dangerous quest to seek them out to observe and study them. Eloquently told in Park’s distinctive voice, it is a personal account of one of the most extraordinary wildlife studies ever undertaken.
Jaki Hawker’s Recommendation
“The Great Soul of Siberia has got ice and snow and is exactly the kind of book I’d have picked off the shelf. It’s gorgeous. It’s really beautifully written, so sharply observed – the book itself has such a powerful sense of both majesty and mystery. But along with that, without being at all sentimental or overtly polemical, it’s absolutely suffused with loss – the family of tigers you have come to know through the book are shot, strangled by poacher’s wire, hit by SUVs, and mourn each other with terrible intensity. Sooyong Park doesn’t anthropomorphise or really bring himself into the text at all, but his words are all the more powerful for their restraint.
An absolutely amazing book. But I kind of really need some chocolate now…? And maybe to make a donation to whoever it is who protects Siberian Tigers, too…”
The Great Soul of Siberia