In early 2006 FFC received a letter from a concerned citizen alerting us to some disturbing and unethical behaviour by a wildlife film crew in Zambia that she has witnessed whilst on holidays.
Our correspondent wrote that whilst on safari in the South Luangwa National Park several of the guides had been disturbed by the approach and behaviour of a visiting crew filming a ‘drama' on lions. The guides were disturbed at how certain footage had been captured and told the guest that the crew was using a spotlight at night to assist predators in making kills. This is a highly unethical filming practice. Our correspondent then went on to write the following:
"During an afternoon game drive we came across the filming vehicle positioned on the high bank above a drying oxbow lagoon. It was evident that the cameraman was in position to film and the camera was directed down into the lagoon. As we drove slowly around the edge of the lagoon we soon saw a second vehicle down in the lagoon. This vehicle was attempting to pull a buffalo out of the mud at the edge of the water. The buffalo was completely stuck and was obviously exhausted. At the same time the down vehicle became apparent, so did two lionesses that were sitting not 200 meters away, watching the scene. As the lionesses were in clear view of the film crew and because the buffalo was exhausted it was fairly obvious that the whole scenario would end up with the lions killing and eating the buffalo. Due to the position of the camera and cameraman it was clear that the whole scenario was a "staged kill". Our guide was angry and immediately challenged the cameraman. He subsequently made a report to the Wildlife department and Safari associations there. I recently got in touch with my safari guide and he expressed disappointment as no subsequent action was taken against the film crew by any of the recognised authorities. He stated that the situation may help pave the way for the Wildlife department to introduce stricter controls over filmmakers and professional photographers. I trust that this is the kind of story that FFC will be interested in following up and hope that with your help the Zambian Wildlife can be protected from further commercial abuse, and that tourists from abroad will not be deterred from visiting safari camps in the Luangwa Valley."
After several months of negotiations and a letter and email campaign by our members FFC was thrilled to be able to announce the establishment of a partnership with the South Luangwa Conservation Society (SLCS), a non-profit organization committed to the conservation and protection of Zambia's wildlife. With the support of the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA), SLCS implemented a new ethical code for South Luangwa National Park incorporating FFC's Code of Ethics. In addition to adhering to local regulations that apply under ZAWA, all production teams filming in the park are required to work under the FFC Ethical Code and provided with copies of our filming guidelines, enforced by SLCS and ZAWA authorities.
This has been an exciting pilot project for FFC and we hope to expand to additional parks throughout Africa and other parts of the world.
South Luangwa Conservation Society: http://www.slcs-zambia.org/
Zambia Wildlife Authority: http://www.zawa.org.zm/