Documenting Africa’s poaching epidemic: Q&A with the director of ‘The Last Animals’

first_imgAnimals, Biodiversity, Conservation, Elephants, Endangered Species, Environment, Interviews, Mammals, Northern White Rhino, Poaching, Rhinos, Wildlife, Wildlife Trafficking Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by Isabel Esterman FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.Note: This article has been modified to correct the name of the Elephant Protection Initiative. A deadly combination of consumer demand, transnational criminal syndicates and local poverty and conflict drives the illicit trade in ivory and rhino horn.War photographer turned filmmaker Kate Brooks traveled through four continents to document the wildlife trade for her film “The Last Animals.”The film is a finalist for the Special Jury award at the 2017 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival in Jackson, Wyoming. After years of documenting some of the world’s bloodiest conflicts, a vacation in Kenya inspired photojournalist Kate Brooks to turn her lens to a different kind of violence: the slaughter of elephants and rhinos to feed black-market demand for ivory and rhino horn.Poaching is having a devastating impact on Africa’s wildlife.From 2006 to 2015, the population of African elephants is estimated to have declined by around 110,000, leaving just 415,000 still alive in the wild. The situation is no better for the continent’s rhinos: demand for their horns as decorative items and in traditional medicine has caused more than 7,100 to have been poached in the last decade, leaving a population of just 25,000.In her film “The Last Animals,” war-photographer turned filmmaker Kate Brooks traces this deadly trade across four continents — traveling from protected areas in Africa to wildlife markets in Asia and North America in order to illustrate the complex web of global consumer demand, transnational criminal syndicates and local conflicts and political problems that contribute to the current poaching epidemic.  Along the way, Brooks also meets with investigators, scientists, zookeepers and rangers engaged in an all-too-often life threatening struggle to preserve the last remaining elephants and rhinos.The Last Animals is a finalist for the Special Jury award in the 2017 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival taking place September 24-29 in Jackson, Wyoming. Winners in 25 awards categories will be announced September 28.In an email interview, Kate Brooks shared her experience documenting the plight of Africa’s elephants and rhinos, as well as her thoughts on what can be done to help these animals.Director of The Last Animals, Kate Brooks, filming over Garamba National Park. Photo Courtesy of The Last Animals.Mongabay: What inspired you to make a film about poaching and the wildlife trade?Brooks: In 2010 after embedding with a medevac unit at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan as a photojournalist, I went to Kenya on a long-planned vacation. It was in the Maasai Mara that I was able to heal from some of the inhumanity I had witnessed: countless troops and Afghan civilians having their limbs blown off by IEDs and Afghan children being erroneously bombed by coalition forces.Seeing a herd of elephants cross my eye line for the first time reminded me that in spite of all the human destruction on the planet, there is still some natural order which ultimately lead me to want to protect it.A couple of years later I applied to the Knight Wallace Fellowship and was accepted as the Ford Environment, Transportation and Technology Fellow.I saw stories trickling in about the poaching crisis, but the issue was largely underreported then. When I learned of an elephant massacre on the border of Chad in which over 80 elephants were gunned down, I felt I had no choice but to pick up my cameras to help bring attention to the crisis.Mongabay: How did your background as a war photographer inform this project? And what parallels and connections do you see between the conflict zones you’ve worked in and the front lines of the trade in ivory and rhino horn?Over the course of three years, I discovered a web of international criminal activity and a network of the most devoted people I have ever met – scientists, activist and conservationists working around the clock to protect the planet’s animals. The rangers who risk their lives every day to preserve the beauty and life that remain are the unsung heroes. I think what sets The Last Animals apart from many wildlife documentaries is that the film is more focused on the human beings than the animals themselves. Being on patrol with rangers in Garamba can be just as dangerous as being on a patrol with a military unit in Afghanistan and that is one of the reasons I went there – I wanted to document the front lines of this ivory war and put the human sacrifice into focus.Today there are only three Northern White rhinos left in the world, all of whom live at Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy where they are heavily protected. Photo Courtesy of The Last Animals.Mongabay: The film introduces the idea that warning signs about the northern white rhino — which is now going extinct before our eyes — could be seen decades ago, and that now the same kinds of signs are being seen with elephants. What are some of those signs, and what lessons should we learn from the fate of the northern white rhino?Brooks: Wildlife is disappearing at such an alarming rate that it’s nearly impossible for the human mind to comprehend. In Chad I spent a few weeks with a group of conservationists searching by air and land for the country’s last elephants. Outside of Zakouma National Park, there are less than 300 left — desperate little groups, fighting for survival, shot up and becoming genetically isolated. In Garamba National Park, there are more militia in the park than giraffe, and the rangers who are fighting to protect the relatively few animals that remain are being killed in the process. There is a great deal of talk that elephants and rhinos could be extinct in the next 10-20 years, but the reality is that localized extinction is happening now.The story of the Northern Whites is foreboding — what happens when too little is done too late, in spite of all the will and commitment in the world. We are at a critical moment in history and time is running out. The illegal wildlife trade is a global problem that requires global and local action from consumer responsibility to government action.Mongabay: Ultimately, the film paints a pretty grim picture of the situation for elephants and rhinos. Were there things you encountered during filming that give you some hope?Brooks: In spite of how grim the big picture is, there is also a lot that gives me hope. The US implemented a near total ban on the ivory trade last year and seven states have further banned intrastate trade with many other states trying to follow suit.  China committed to banning the ivory trade by the end of 2017 and is following through on that commitment. Hong Kong is currently debating a ban as well. Wildlife trafficking penalties in Kenya have been stiffened to be a true deterrent rather than a slap on the wrist. There is also the Elephant Protection Initiative, which is an African sovereign-led initiative — the only one of its kind anywhere in the world — committed to the protection of a common natural resource: the African elephant. To date, there are more than a dozen African country signatories to the platform, which is recognized by the United Nations, various multi-laterals, and leading NGOs.A ranger looks out over Garamba National Park at daybreak. Garamba, in Democratic Republic of the Congo, is the second oldest national park in Africa and one of the deadliest for both elephants and rangers. Photo courtesy of The Last Animals.Mongabay: What messages do you hope people who view The Last Animals come away with?Brooks: The film not only endeavors to expose the horrors of this crisis, and that extinction is real, but also how the trade is linked to the darkest sides of global criminal activity. My greatest hope is that The Last Animals will help close the world’s remaining ivory markets and raise awareness about how many species are threatened with extinction. The illegal wildlife trade is a global problem that requires global and local action. It’s imperative that countries and states shut down their domestic ivory markets and that illegal wildlife trafficking laws and penalties be stiffened.Mongabay: What are some things people can do if they want to help elephants and rhinos survive?People who want to get involved in the US should put pressure on their state to ban intrastate trade of ivory and ensure that wildlife trafficking laws and penalties are strict in their state. Wyoming for example has yet to implement a state ivory ban. We have a map on our website that shows which states have passed laws and which haven’t. If legislation is pending or has yet to be introduced, concerned citizens should send a letter to their State Senators and Assembly Members in support of ending the intrastate trade. If a bill has already passed both houses, but has not yet been signed, send a letter to the Governor. Having a robust legal frame work in place to protect vulnerable, threatened and endangered species is critical to combating environmental crime.Elephants in Chad’s Zakouma National Park. According to the recent Great Elephant Survey, there are less than 800 elephants left in the country of Chad. Photo courtesy of The Last Animals.Mongabay: What’s next for you?I’m in discussions about directing four different film projects next year – three are documentaries and one is a narrative. I would be thrilled to work on any of them. That said, The Last Animals festival run and impact campaign are going to be consuming a lot of my time for some time to come. We have dozens of screenings coming up around the world over the next couple of months and many booked into next year.last_img read more