Documentary filmmaker Rémy Masséglia observes and films the tracks 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 Mercantour mammals before and after storm Alex.

the filmmaker Remy Masseglia He lives in Breil-sur-Roya, in the Maritime Alps. It was there that with her daughter Naïs, then a year old, she set out in the footsteps of the wolves of Mercantour national park, looking for beautiful images. A documentary was born “Naïs in the land of wolves”several times awarded.

And after this shoot, father and daughter decided to embark on another adventure: follow, observe and film animal species in the Mercantour National Park. These are the 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 the Wildlife Man Initiative, it is financed by the Prince Albert II Foundation.

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

The chosen territory does not exceed the square kilometer of Breil-sur-Roya. It is located in the heart of the Mercantour National Park, which has been given the green light. Because for any shot of a professional or commercial nature, authorization must be requested and certain specifications must be met so as not to disturb the fauna.

For a year, 6 cameras that trigger automatically at the slightest movement recorded the passage of‘an otterPreviewed by Laurent Malthieux, a Park naturalist.

Remy and her daughter have simultaneously tracked the mammal in the wild.

The pace is necessarily adapted to the girl and her schooling.

With Naïs we have always carried binoculars, a swimsuit, bracelets, sometimes an inflatable boat and water shoes, we have turned 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 placed in places appreciated by the mammal attest to this.

The droppings, some thirty scratches in total, were also recovered by the director.

The European otter in Roya-Bévéra

©Remy Masséglia

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

Remy Masseglia, director

And this otter, which has a territory of about 30 kilometers, was present in the Roya valley before storm Alex, and seems to have moved after the disaster to a tributary, the Bévéra, and perhaps even further. 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’s actually a Putos of Europea small nocturnal and very fast carnivore that normally lives in humid areas.

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

Storm Alex has not changed the habits of this little animal that continues to reproduce in the same area, and perhaps lives in other sectors of the Mercantour.

In an area that, in the space of one night, was devastated on the night of October 2-3, 2020 by 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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