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'Not to offend the jealous admirers of the Volga, but I have never in my life seen a river more splendid than the Yenisey'

I sincerely thank Siberia and its people for giving me such a great time!

By 0 and 0 and 0
26 November 2012


Getting a taste for Siberia - Jean-François Lagrot pictured during his Ivory Hunt adventure in Yakutia. Picture: Jean-François Lagrot

Here is what Jean-Francois Lagrot, one of the world's best wildlife photographers made of his trip to Siberia. 

Jean-Francois spent best part of August in Yakutia, gathering material for this week's Sunday Times feature about Siberia's lucrative ivory trade. 

Language was the main obstacle and I had to cope with that handicap while working as a photo-reporter; it was quite tricky when you could not explain what you needed.  

The cost of life was another surprise. 

In these conditions I had to trust people around me to get what I was coming for and I was never disappointed - everybody was helpful. 

The most refreshing discovery for me during that stay was not the climate, as could expect a French guy coming from Nice on the 15th of August. 

I was a lot more surprised by how few people spoke English, yet how well I felt being among them, with no need to import a foreign attitudes as they were proud of what they were - and rightly so! 

Indeed, I found a place and people who have kept their authenticity and culture far from the globalisation which is currently killing every culture around the world, one by one. I am not talking about Yakutian people only, but about Siberian people as a whole. 

Ivory trade in Siberia

Ivory trade in Siberia

Yakutia's fantastic nature pictured in summer and now, at the beginning of winter. Pictures: Yuri Kokovin, Planet Yakutia

Of course, I felt a big gap between the young generation rather drawn by the shopping centres in Yakutsk, and the elder one who feels more like going in the tundra to collect berries or 'mislata'. 

But I also felt a great proximity with Nature, with the stunning sceneries, the plains, the fog and the spirits.  

Well, a true life is still related to the siberian environment. Siberia is a world apart, still virgin and as protected as an island. 

Ivory Trade Siberia

Ivory Trade Siberia

'My wish is now to find any good or bad reason to come back there'. Pictures: Yuri Kokovin 

I sincerely hope it will remain itself, preserving its quality of spiritual life in a harsh but in someway protecting nature. 

My wish is now to find any good or bad reason to come back there. 

Not reaching the coast of Arctic ocean - a restricted area - was a bit frustrating, so I'll try again next year. 

There is so much to learn there from people who adapted to life with basic but essential needs.

See full Ivory Tusks Hunt story with Jean-Francois Lagrot photographs on The Sunday Times website (; it will also appear in the Russian edition of Geo magazine. 

The Siberian Times welcomes your impressions, opinions and stories about travelling, living and working in Siberia. Get in touch with us in English or Russian, and we'll make sure that your account of Siberia will be read by thousands of people around the world. 

Comments (3)

one needs to be really brave to go to the middle of nowhere not speaking Russian
Fyodor, Siberia
28/11/2012 11:38
some very nice images of Yakutia; pity I can't open Sunday Times to see more without paying for subscription
T, Russia
27/11/2012 01:55
well said Mr Lagrot. People in Siberia are something very very special - very strong, beautiful, and with great sense of humour. Reliable, too
Domnica, New Zealand
27/11/2012 00:48

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