I don’t know about you but I get increasingly depressed when I read of the daily struggle the iconic wildlife in Africa is currently facing. Little Asian men, in every sense, and their incessant drive to boost their flagging libido’s and status have been the driving factor behind what is potentially the most intense and prolonged poaching phase these animals have ever faced. The numbers are simply mind boggling with an estimated 96 Elephants throughout the African Continent are killed daily, predominantly for their Ivory tusks.
Sadly the focus is not just on the Elephants. Rhinoceros are being lost at the rate of 1 every 9 hours, predominantly targeted for their Horn. Mistakenly lauded as an aphrodisiac, cancer treatment, libido enhancer and miracle cure for a whole slew of supposed ailments a Rhino’s horn could sadly drive this animal to extinction within five to ten years. Truth be told, the horn is made of Keratin, the same compound as your fingernails. Maybe someone needs to tell these misinformed idiots that they stand a better chance of enhancing their love life by employing the keratin tipped digits of their hands dipped in Mayonnaise (apparently) over the proven ineffective results of drinking water infused with a deft rubbing of a Rhino Horn. Given that 1Kg of Rhino Horn currently commands the lofty price of up to US$60,000 is the animals demise. Worth it’s weight in Gold the Rhino’s Horn seems to be the coveted Golden Goose Egg on many an impoverished African Poachers mind.
This is an industry driven by vanity and avarice. A vanity blind to the suffering of the wildlife and a greed that knows no limits. Chinese Traditional Medicine puts a high price on the body parts of many iconic species, this growing and insatiable demand for which pushes the target species to the brink of extinction. I feel it my duty to stand up to this in the only way I know how, to point a camera at it and help document the incredible efforts made by those determined to make a difference.
I’ve been speaking for the past two years with a guy who works as a freelance master tracker, personal bush guide and anti-poaching unit Ranger division trainer. Rory Young, like me an ex-French Legionnaire, is an affable, no bullshit kinda guy who talks the talk and walks the walk. You know where you stand with Rory as he tells you direct and to your face, how it is. His Ranger anti-poaching training program work is in turn sponsored and funded by a US based charity by the name of Chengeta Wildlife. Long story short and after having spoken with Rory and Chengeta at length we’ve come to the understanding that they need training media for their ongoing Ranger training work, I have the ability and peace of mind to operate under the duress that anti-poaching can throw at you, the potential for ambush and I’m happy and accepting of it.
Now throw into the midst of all of this the enthusiastic willingness of a British Actor based in Hollywood to be associated not just with Chengeta but also in association with any potential filming exploits that can be initiated by yours truly. Josh Bowman, better known as Daniel Grayson in the ABC series ‘Revenge’, is one of a growing number of celebrities who realise that African wildlife is in dire straits. His presence will certainly give a much needed boost to the impending funding drive for more Ranger training programs that Chengeta Wildlife have got planned for the near future.
A planned six weeks filming schedule is being discussed with a two fold objective. Primarily the focus will be on to acquire all the imagery needed to create a comprehensive audio visual training manual component for the Rangers of the numerous National Parks throughout Africa who have requested Rory’s presence to date. Our second priority is to film enough content for the production of a documentary fly on the wall style reportage that Josh will narrate and which will go towards introducing the World to the incredible work of Rory and Chengeta Wildlife. In their last campaign in Malawi they accomplished an amazing 81 poachers arrested over just 12 days. Non stop positive actions with a well trained and slick body of Rangers, a true success story. But poaching is an incessant scourge where retraining is a constant requirement. Sadly, and all too often, Ranger pay the ultimate sacrifice in their conviction to stand by and guard the majestic wildlife in their care and need to be replaced. Just recently two Rangers were killed, and one was still missing at the time of writing, in the line of duty in the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On average one wildlife Ranger is killed every four days somewhere in the World in the protection of wildlife.
Guarding Wildlife in an age where so much money is made in it’s illicit killing that attracts Terrorist elements, organised crime syndicates and corrupt officials at the highest levels means that the lowly park Ranger, often living on a pittance of a salary, is the only thing standing between existence and extinction of many iconic species. Often poorly trained and of limited education I want to tell their story, show their reality. These guys are stepping up to the plate and putting their lives on the line every day in the hope that the wildlife in their care lives to see another dawn, another sunset.
In the words of Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of Evil, is for good men to do nothing“, I’m hoping my involvement will go someway towards making a difference. I will be extensively sharing the Chengeta drive when it sets rolling in a few days. I’d love to think that followers of my social media, many of whom I know are passionate wildlife advocates will also step up to the plate with a few dollars to go to a great cause.
If there are any corporate entities who end up reading this and would like to discuss how their brand could also align with this project then I’d welcome any feedback of that nature. Full disclosure and potential benefits can be discussed via email or skype.