The great reporter of TF1, Michel Izard, tells us the mysteries of the island of pigs

A place away from it all. Nature in its wildest state. Effervescent and serene. A kind of paradise on Earth. It seems difficult to conceive. To imagine, even, in our society of the artificial. Yet this place exists. This place is an island. An island known today to all as the island of pigs. A mythical island. An island that has remained hidden from men for almost 40 years. In the mists of the southern Indian Ocean, doors in theAntarctic.

“I was preparing a report in the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF). I had to meet those who work there and those who connect them to our world. And, I learned that a special expedition was preparing to land scientists on the island of pigs »tells us Michel Izard. “The island was about to come out of its isolation. We couldn’t let a handful of researchers remain the only witnesses. We had to accompany them. » Tell this amazing story. That was what the great reporter had in mind. Without really suspecting that he was about to live an adventure like no other.

Because Michel Izard has seen the country. Antarctica, he knows. But “the island of pigs is really like nothing else. It was like we were on another world”, he tells us. On another world and in another time, one could almost say.

On this island flourished, not so long ago, the largest colony of king penguins in the world. Over a million people. But it must be said “who prospered”. Because in 2018, satellite images revealed a painful truth. The disappearance of 90% of them. And that’s why scientists decided to go back there. Almost 40 years after the last human visit. To understand the cause of this brutal decline.

The king penguin chicks that we discover here, still covered in their down, are rather curious. “They came to peck our feetrecalls Michal Izard. Maybe because they took us for their parents. » Because you should know that penguins do not have good eyesight. They recognize each other by their cries. © Michel Izard and Bertrand Lachat TF1, all rights reserved

Pig Island, in the heart of nowhere

“Imagine how lucky we were. Researchers have dreamed of Pig Island all their lives. Charly Bost is ornithologist. In 1982, he was on the Marion Dufresne when the TAAF supply ship dropped off the last scientists to venture there. And for 37 years, Charly returned every year to thearchipelago Crozet. Without ever seeing the island again, since left off the Marion Dufresne route. There, he was preparing to set foot there for the first time… and probably also the last. The emotions we shared with him are indescribable.”tells us Michel Izard.

“A bit like the feeling I had when, after six days at sea, six days of increasingly unbearable waiting, we finally slowed down. We knew she was there. But in front of us, there was only mist. Pig Island lived up to its reputation. That’s what I was thinking when the veil was finally torn. Revealing this lost piece of land in the middle of nowhere. For a moment, I found myself transported back to 1772. I was no longer aboard the Marion Dufresne. But on the explorer boat who gave it its name. In the skin of these browsers of yesteryear. Who, too, had seen emerging from the mist, an island as mysterious as it was attractive. »

An adventure in another time that only words could hope to tell. “Finally, that’s why I wrote” The mystery of the island of pigs “(Paulsen editions). » To make you feel “the strength of the history of the place”. To make us feel how this island away from everything connects us to time. In contact with those who have been stranded there in the past. Spending weeks, sometimes months, relearning how to live in nature. In contact with those who tried to tame this mysterious island.

But also in touch with the emergency. “We only had five days to spend there. It was little time left to the scientists to carry out their investigations. » Little time to unravel the mystery of the island of pigs. But yet so much time in this universe appeased. This universe where one does not know the danger. “The albatrosses, the sea ​​elephants, penguins only come to Pig Island to breed or moult. They don’t compete. They have no predator. » Their life is beautiful. No problem. And it’s not a few men who are going to bother them. “My anthropomorphic gaze would say that they welcomed us. They allowed us to immediately and completely immerse ourselves in their lives. But if I’m honest, I have to say that I mostly felt like an intruder among them. As if finally, our presence passed, for them, completely unnoticed. »

On the island of pigs, the animals are indifferent to the presence of men. Most of the time. As this elephant seal proves. Surprise or displeasure? Difficult to decide. But it seems certain that he has spotted an intruder. © Michel Izard and Bertrand Lachat TF1, all rights reserved

The mystery of the island of pigs

So much for “the other time”. As for ” the other world “, it is perhaps easier to glimpse, to touch. That’s the case to say. “As you approach Pig Island, it is first of all the view that is alerted. This volcanic land, this huge bare rock emerging from the mist. Then there is the noise. That of the wind that blows incessantly. That of the grass crushed by our footsteps. That of the waves crashing on the rocks. That of the penguins, of course. Penguins crying out to find each other. And near the manchotière, there are smells. Animal smells. Smells of droppings. Without forgetting all the sensations. The feeling of cold exacerbated by the rain and the wind. The feeling of almost sinking into a ground without a traced path. A ground lined with greenery. »

While the great reporter savored the moment – present as well as past – the scientists were hard at work. Collecting as many clues as possible that could put them on the track. Understand how so many king penguins could have disappeared in such a short time. To find the answer, you will have to delve into “The Mystery of Pig Island”.

You too can go alongside these few researchers who have braved the elements to find answers. To discover, perhaps, that even in the depths of the Indian Ocean, in the middle of nowhere, on the island of pigs, the answers given by nature are complex. And the solutions, sometimes to be sought well beyond the borders. Finally, take the risk of turning the last page with the desire that this mythical island keeps forever… a part of mystery.

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  • How to feed the world without destroying it?
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