Africa has an abundant reserve of wildlife. However, a huge number of them are lost annually to poaching. Several African countries are taking steps to deal with wildlife poaching. The University of Zimbabwe is raising awareness on poaching through a film titled, “Sides of a Horn”. The short film hailed as “thought-provoking” was written and directed by Toby Wosskow.
Sides of a Horn aired on July 3rd at the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) headquarters in Nairobi. The short film is in the Zulu language with English subtitles. The movie explores the complexity behind the illegal wildlife trade. Wosskow is also a council member of AWF. Reacting to the perennial poaching problem, Wosskow said,
“The poaching crisis is a complex issue and the conversation around it must go beyond simple right and wrong. By painting an unbiased portrait of this modern war and exposing both sides of the struggle, it is my hope that Sides of a Horn will be a catalyst that inspires a greater discussion that can lead to positive change.”
Sides of a Horn tells poaching story from both sides of the fence
Poverty is one of the reasons why poaching still persists. For the first time ever, Sides of a Horn tells the rhino poaching story from both sides of the fence. The story shows how poverty-stricken communities desperate for survival team up with global poaching syndicates to make millions from the illegal trade in wildlife.
Kaddu Sebunya, the AWF chief executive said the film shows how much more effort we need to put into protecting these species. Sebunya also explains why it is important to educate the local communities on how they can fully benefit from their wildlife. AWF is doing a lot to protect the rhinos. According to Sebunya,
“AWF has invested heavily in rhino conversation across the continent. Some of the projects that AWF has supported include rhino sanctuaries in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Kenya. In March last year, the remaining northern white rhino in the world died, leaving the subspecies facing extinction. Other sub-species are more numerous but are also critically endangered. By the latest count, only 5050 black rhinos exist in the wild today, down from a population of 65 000 in 1964. These numbers continue to decline every year.”
Motivation Behind The Movie
In a compelling letter published on the movie website, Toby Wosskow shared his motivation for doing the movie. He had been on a trip in South Africa where he encountered a beautiful White Rhino only to learn that they were at the brink of extinction. He decided to do something about it.
In the letter he wrote:
“A nonsensical demand for rhino horn in parts of asia is fuelling a poaching war on the ground in south africa. International crime syndicates are preying on the most financially-desperate people living around protected areas, and offering them a fraction of the overseas profits to poach from their own wildlife. Meanwhile, other people in these same rural communities are taking the legitimate path of becoming anti-poaching rangers and putting their lives on the line to protect their wildlife heritage. These men and women from the same communities are killing each other, along with their iconic rhino, to feed an unnecessary demand on the other side of the world.”
His observations capture the rather complex nature of the problem which he expressed further in the letter:
“I felt a responsibility to expose the social impact of the illegal wildlife trade and humanize the men and women who are so devastatingly affected. I developed a dramatic short film, based on actual events, that explores how two people from the same level of poverty, the same community, and even the same family can end up on opposite sides of this war. The poaching crisis is a complex issue and the conversation around it must go beyond simple right and wrong. By painting an unbiased portrait of this modern war and exposing both sides of the struggle, it is my hope that sides of a horn will be a catalyst that inspires a greater discussion that can lead to positive change.”
The entire letter can be read on the movie website.
Using technology and digital media to fight poaching
Obviously, the only way to win the fight against poaching is through proper sensitization. There is a lot of power in the digital media and technology which can give officials an edge in poaching war. An official of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Patience Gandiwa pointed this out.
“The film Sides of a Horn shows the potential and power of digital media in raising awareness on conservation matters. We need to utilize the digital media more to create messages that promote wildlife conservation.”
In 2014, Ol Pajeta Conservancy which protects white and black rhinos in Kenya teamed up with Airware, a San Francisco-based tech company to develop autopilot drones. With the drones, officials could track the movement of poachers both during the day and at night.