Filmmaker and ecologist David Cebulla is searching for the last populations of the world wide critically endangered Common hamster. David’s journey leads from the alarming collapse of common hamster populations in Germany, through the original habitat of Kazakhstan’s steppe to rural Poland. The film “The Last Common Hamsters” tells a touching story about a very cute animal. Thus it offers highly entertaining education and rises awareness for the endangered species and it’s habitat. As the Common hamster is an umbrella species the film shows a critical perspective to modern agriculture and policy.
Director: David Cebulla
Genre: nature film
Duration: approx. 90 min.
Languages: German, English
Locations: Germany, France, Austria, Hungary, Poland and Kazakhstan
First shooting period: from April till October 2021
Second shooting period: from April 2022 till October 2022
Planned release: 2024
Naturefilmmaker David tries to understand why the Common hamster is threatened by extinction and how it could be protected. The filmmaker closely monitors Common hamster individuals on a field in Germany for more than one year. In addition to intensive behavioral observations, he travels from the western to the eastern limits of the area of distribution.
David visits Vienna to film urban hamsters at a cemetery. In France, he films hamster breeding and a release into the wild. David interviews Europe’s last commercial hamster hunter in Hungary. In between travels David continues to observe common hamsters and interviews a farmer, a EU politician and a conservationist. In Poland, David meets scientists who study the different genetic lineages of the Common hamster and fight for its protection in the face of threatening genetic isolation due to the construction of a highway. David is attempting to film the rare species for the first time in the Kazakh steppe, but his only clue is coordinates from a coincidental capture nine years ago. In the meantime it is getting harder and harder to find hamsters for filming in Germany. Is David documenting the last Common hamsters?
English Pre-Production Teaser
You can read the video transcript here. Read More
4.3 million square kilometers – that is the size of the European Union. About 40 % are used for agriculture. This land is not only the foundation for our food supply, but also wildlife habitat.
However, we are facing a critical loss of biodiversity.
As a synanthropic species the common hamster was only able to propagate on the basis of agriculture. Today it is critically endangered around the world. Just like one million other species.
And this, this is me, David. I am a nature filmmaker and ecologist from Germany. I am searching for this rare species not only in Countries of Europe but also in the Kazakh Steppe. I talk to conservationists, scientists and farmers. And I want to find even rarer black hamsters. My documentary is ment to create awareness about the species and to enable critical thinking. I want to show the negative impact of modern agriculture and explain why the protection of the Common hamster is supporting biodiversity. We need a change in our agricultural system. That change could be a chance to combine the preservation of biodiversity and a sustainable and climate friendly agricultural system. We need to conserve what we cherish. We can only change if we care. That is what I want to show in my documentary “The Last Common Hamsters”.
About the film production
We are confident that this is to be the most extensive film about the Common hamster that shows many innovations. Never before have common hamsters been shown up close in their natural habitat. We were the first to film the species in its pristine habitat in the Kazakh Steppe. This might be the last comprehensive time document about the Common hamster.
The project development was funded by the Thuringian state chancellery in 2020. This enabled us to produce a trailer and to write a script. We also made contacts to conservationists, scientists and farmers and identified areas with common hamsters in our region. In addition we developed methods and adapted the equipment to film common hamsters at night. In 2021, in a first shooting period, recordings of species at a cemetery in Vienna, of a release in Alsace and of wild common hamsters in Thuringia were realized. We successfully collected 5.040 Euro in a crowdfunding campaign.
The second shooting period followed in 2022 and was funded by the Thuringian State Chancellery. David interviewed the last Common hamster hunter in Hungary. In Poland, David was able to document various aspects of the genetics of the common hamster, it’s threat from habitat fragmentation and hunting, and small-scale agriculture. In Thuringia in 2022, further recordings of wild black and colored common hamsters were made e.g. of predation, a mating and juveniles. Currently we are post-producing the film.