Probably the most exotic inhabitant of the Czech Republic's deep pine forests is fighting a losing battle for survival. The Czech lynx is a frequent target of illegal hunters, and despite heightened efforts to protect the breed, its numbers have dwindled to several dozen specimens. Environmentalists have now come up with a surprising plan that should help to save not only the lynx, but also bears and wolves living in the mountain regions. They are relying on King Kong to help them out.
Although environmentalists are already patrolling the lynx-populated regions in the Beskydy Mountains in the east and the Sumava mountain range in the south of the country, it has become clear that the project will not be successful unless the locals support it. Most of the poachers are in fact locals, and the general attitude to these species in the mountain villages to a great extent determines their fate. At present that attitude is not good - wolves and bears are seen as dangerous predators who are a threat to the local farms, while the lynx is seen as a rare trophy. Making the locals listen is not easy but environmentalists think they know how to go about it: with the help of the latest remake of King Kong and other hot movies.
Since the mountain villages are usually poor in terms of a cultural life, they plan to take the latest movies there - in return for a little attention. They are going to bring back the cinema on wheels, the kind that travelled to distant villages in the 60s - and play the movies for free or for a symbolic fee. Before they get to watch the movie, people will be treated to a short film about the importance of the lynx, wolf and bear in the Czech eco-system. Pavel Marhoul of the Environmental Protection Agency, says that the plan hinges on "converting" the people who influence public opinion. "These people are the real authorities here and their word is stronger than the law. If the local teacher, doctor or mayor says the lynx should be left alone - then the chances are it will be, Marhoul says.
The cinema on wheels and King Kong should be on the road early next year. Their first stop will be the mountain village of Horni Plana where many hunters firmly believe that the only good lynx is a dead lynx.