“Earth: A New Wild” blows away cuteness standards, presents uplifting and serious conversation

How many baby pandas does it take to make a conservation film a success?

Two? Four? Nine?

Hedging their bets, PBS, National Geographic and Passion Planet went with… 14!

In their upcoming series, Earth: A New Wild, viewers will get to ogle fourteen baby pandas, as Conservation International Executive Vice President Dr. M. Sanjayan guides them on a journey exploring the intrinsic nature of humanity’s role in nature. Filmmakers for Conservation was at a sneak peak of the upcoming series screened at National Geographic in Washington, D.C. – the five-part film promises to bring optimism to the conservation conversation to living rooms all over the country.

Dr. Sanjayan said he wanted to work on this series – and call it The New Wild – to remove the distinction between the natural and the human worlds. “We humans are part of nature,” he said, “and when you realize that, we realize saving nature is saving ourselves.” He said in certain areas it was impossible to film wildlife without getting humans in the frame, and he hopes by telling the story of how humans are part of nature – not separated from it – viewers will learn, “Just how much we need each other to survive.”

Filming over 5 years in 29 countries and 45 locations, the producers decided to separate the films based on habitats, with episodes covering “Home,” “Plains,” “Forests,” “Oceans,” and “Fresh Water.” The first episode explores “Home,” establishing the series arc that humans share our home with nature – and it goes big, with Dr. Sanjayan’s visit to the breeding center of the Bifengxia Panda Base in Wolong, China. Researchers there have determined when females are most fertile as part of their efforts to re-wild the iconic species, and after resisting the concentrated power of such adorable panda delight, witnessing the baker’s dozen of black and white babies roll around on the floor, Dr. Sanjayan dons a panda suit himself, as he witnesses the first-ever release of a captive-bred panda into the wild.

Breeders take care of giant panda cubs inside a crib at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, Sichuan province, September 23, 2013. Fourteen new joiners to the 128-giant-panda-family at the base were shown to the public on Monday, according to local media. REUTERS/China Daily

Breeders take care of giant panda cubs inside a crib at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, Sichuan province, September 23, 2013. Fourteen new joiners to the 128-giant-panda-family at the base were shown to the public on Monday, according to local media. REUTERS/China Daily

Along with Zhang Xiang’s historic amble, Dr. Sanjayan visits Dr. Jane Goodall in Tanzania, where new chimpanzees have entered the Gombe National Park, thanks to community initiatives to connect fragmented habitat by subsidizing border trees. But now the villagers report chimps have taken infants from their homes, highlighting the difficulty of life in the shared wild.

The “Plains” episode introduces the theories of Rhodesian-born biologist Allan Savory, about the need to restore to the plains the millions of herd animals who once kept them healthy. Dr. Sanjayan visits the Russian steppes, where the proboscises of saiga antelope once roamed with more snouts than the wildebeest of the African savannahs. With their floppy schnozzes warming the frigid air, the saiga roam, eating and dispersing 100 plant species. After the fall of the Soviet Union, poachers ravaged the herds from numbering two million down to 20,000, hunting their horns for traditional Chinese medicine. A boom in irrigated agriculture has also led to their home pastures in Kalmykia to become the first manmade desert in Europe, as 80% of the arid region has lost plant coverage. Dr. Sanjayan tries to show that hope abounds, meeting researchers who are tracking the saiga’s numbers, and finding ways to protect them from poachers.

The “Plains” episode also offers the most bizarre human-wildlife interaction, as Dr. Sanjayan travels to northern Scandinavia, where the Sami people were possibly the first to domesticate herd animals. Those who still live the traditional, semi-nomadic lifestyle, follow their herds of reindeer throughout the winter. The males can get very aggressive in the rutting season, however, and after the autumn battle for females they are so exhausted that nine in ten will perish in the following winter. Well… ancestral knowledge was quick to incorporate anatomy into the equation, and Dr. Sanjayan’s Sami hosts invite him to participate in the traditional cure:

The Sami call their modified male reindeer the “Gentlemen of the Tundra,” as they spend the winter helping the females dig through the snow for those last remaining morsels to munch…

Dr. Sanjayan kept the “Forests” episode under wraps, but FFC did catch glimpses of the final “Oceans,” and “Fresh Water” films, in which Dr. Sanjayan goes fishing in the mangrove nurseries of Florida for pregnant and newborn lemon sharks, and then kayaks the Colorado River to its end with photographer Peter McBride, where the mighty river painfully dies in the dusts of Mexico’s Sonora Desert. Although Mexico receives less and less of the Colorado’s life-force, not far from the dried-up wetlands it once watered Dr. Sanjayan and McBride fly over the Cienaga wetlands, where 40,000 acres of new life has sprung from farm water run-off somewhere upstream. Dr. Sanjayan points out nature’s resiliency: as one door closes, another opens.

Earth: A New Wild will air on PBS starting on Wednesday, February 4, at 9/8c PM. Now that you’re warned of the carnage of cuteness of 14 baby pandas, enjoy the programming, and let us know what you think!

The Drill Project


The Drill Project features the first-ever broadcast images of wile Bioko Island drills; large, silver baboon-like monkeys with obsidian black faces, and dominant males with bright blue rears and red genitals. An educational film, The Drill Project illustrates the beautiful relationships formed in the biodiversity of Bioko Island’s tropical forests, and explains how the drills are an important part of their ecosystem. Viewers learn, however, that not all is well in these forests, as traditional bush-meat hunting practices have given way to commercial poaching with shotguns and snare traps. The Drill Project gives a voice to the drills and the six other species of monkeys on the island by exhibiting these lesser-known primates’ struggle with human misunderstanding and advocating the abolishment of primate hunting on the island.

The film includes interviews with local community members and biologists discussing the importance of wildlife protection to serve future generations and its economic value to the country of Equatorial Guinea. The film is in Spanish, the national language of Equatorial Guinea, and narrated by Demetrio Bocuma Meñe an Equatoguinean who studies environmental science and policy in the United States. Our message is a positive one and it is meant to give the local public of Equatorial Guinea a national pride in their wildlife.

Positive results

The Drill Project is currently broadcasting on the National and International television channels in Equatorial Guinea and premiered both in Equatorial Guinea (December 15, 2012) at the Guinean Cultural Center in Malabo and in the USA (April 15, 2013) at Drexel University in Philadelphia. In March of 2013 we organized film screenings in three villages near the protected areas where the last drills remain, and we left a group of biology students from the local Universidad Nacional de Guinea Equatorial in charge of continuing to organize showings of the film. The Drill Project has aired in schools, village centers, and living rooms to ignite conversation about the bushmeat trade. The head of the biology of UNGE is a friend of President Teodoro Obiang and claims that the president has seen and approves of the film.


Watch the Film: http://www.thedrillproject.org/the-film/
Director, Producer, and First Camera: Justin Jay: justindavidjay@gmail.com, (843) 991-3442, thedrillproject.org
Producer: Shaya Hornavar: sh333@drexel.edu, (215) 667-4515,
Editor: Megan Pollin
Narrator: Demetrio Bocuma Meñe

By Jason Peters

SAW: This Time, It’s for Real


“It’s the latest installment in the horrifying (but thankfully fictional) SAW movie saga…Or is it? Set against an eerie and remote African landscape, this sadistic killing spree is unlike any other and the helpless victims have nowhere left to hide. Because this time…it’s for real.”

Southern Africa’s rhino’s are disappearing at a rate of approximately 1 every 30 hours. This dire situation has truly become similar to the ruthless killing and bloodshed witnessed in commercial horror movies.

Earth Touch Productions who made this film for the benefit of the Stop Rhino Poaching online campaign, the film objectives include:
” To encourage continued public awareness and support as part of a committed and extensive media drive by StopRhinoPoaching.com.
” To rally financial backing from both corporate and private donors, the proceeds of which will be put towards implementing rhino protection projects in South Africa. All donor funding will be managed by members within the Rhino Chamber of Wildlife Ranching South Africa, a non-profit organisation that represents game ranchers as a national body in South Africa.

Positive results:

Unknown to date.


Earthtouch productions.
4 Sunbury Crescent, Sunbury Park, La Lucia Ridge, 4051, South Africa, P O Box 1437, Umhlanga, 4320.
Email: media@stoprhinopoaching.com

By Jason Peters

Solving Human-Elephant Conflicts at Thuma Forest Reserve, Malawi – Baby Elephant Killed by Poachers


Villagers along the boundaries of Thuma Forest Reserve in Malawi were increasingly facing problems with crop-raiding elephants which have led to 2 people and 1 elephant being killed in 2009. Although people are aware of the benefits coming to their communities through the “Thuma Ecosystem Rehabilitation Project”, is the permanent human-wildlife conflict affecting the local participation and support of WAG’s conservation efforts at Thuma.

There was an immediate need for action to protect both the elephants and at the same time the property and live of the local communities.

As an emergency measure, a section of the required fence has been installed and completed in November 2009 by the Wildlife Action Group International e.V. on behalf of the District Assembly of Salima.

The local farmers contributed with incredible hard workmanship to finish installing this section of the fence before the rainy season.
What has been achieved to date:
” Installation of a section of 12 km of solar powered electric fence
” Construction of an entrance gate
” Construction of 18 km access roads and tracks
” Construction of two small houses for fence attendants
” Training of fencing and maintenance personnel
” Temporary employment for local people: 3140 man-days

The now installed elephant fence-section allows the local people to reoccupy about 950 hectare of agriculture land, which they had abandoned because of the crop raiding elephants!

Positive results:

This film raises awareness and encourages donations to enable continuation of the conservation programme.


Chairman: Georg Kloeble
Wildlife Action Group International e.V.
Pfaelzer Strasse 22
D-83109 Grosskarolinenfeld
Skype: waginternational
Email: info@wildlifeactiongroup.org
Website: http://www.africanconservation.org
Link to film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNttZ6fg80o&feature=player_embedded

By Jason Peters

We Don’t Kill Lions Anymore

Lionness and Cub


Language: Maa with English subtitles
Running time: 27 minutes

Lion Hunting was once a tradition in Maasai Culture Today with fewer than 200 wild Maasai lions left, the Maasai are now becoming their greatest protectors. This is an educational film made for the Maasai explaining how to participate in the exceptional conservation programme called the Predator Compensation Fund. This film – in coordination with the team of the Maasailand Preservation Trust, located in the 275,000 acre Mbirikani Game Ranch of Southern Kenya’s Chyulu Hills, Ol Donyo Wuas Trust and National Geographic Big Cat Initiative – forms an integral part of the education element of a well coordinated educational, reward and prevention programme that has dramatically halted the decline in lion and other predator numbers in this part of Kenya.

The film, narrated in the local language Maa, with English subtitles explains the workings of the Predator Compensation Fund, a fund that compensates Maasai if their livestock is killed by lion, cheetah, leopard or hyena. It encourages lion and Maasai to live together, with a strong disincentive in place to prevent rules being broken. The film is shown to each and every village in conjunction with their local community representative and liaison on hand to explain any uncertain areas and has had universal buy-in from the communities in the area.

Positive results:

On average 24 lions were killed each year in the 275,000 acre Maasai-owned Mbirikani Game Ranch (population around 10,000) before the Predator Compensation Fund (PCF) was introduced in this area in June 2003. After the scheme’s introduction just 4 lions were killed in total in a six year period. The PCF has expanded to neighbouring ranches in the Amboseli-Chyulu Hills area with similar dramatic reduction in lion deaths. Cattle are now corralled into sufficient, protective kraals to prevent predation. Lion Guardians, scouts employed to look out and radio in lion sitings prevent cattle from grazing close to where lions are known. Maasai are being educated to live along side wild animals and see the benefits tourism and conservation brings to their communities with greater education opportunities and reward. This film has, as an educational medium, significantly helped in the PCF scheme’s success. They don’t kill lions anymore.


Directed, Filmed and Edited by Kire Godal for National Geographic Big Cat Initiative and Ol Donyo Wuas Trust
Witten: Richard Bonham, Tom Hills

By Jason Peters

The Last Migration – Wild Elephant Capture in Sarguja


The Last Migration depicts a 42-day wild elephant capture operation in Madhya Pradesh, India.

Driven out of their home range in Bihar, due to excessive deforestation; a herd of wild elephants migrated to eastern Madhya Pradesh 300km away; where the sterile teak plantations, devoid of diversity, could not sustain the herd. Desperate for sustenance they went on a rampage and created havoc amidst the terrified tribals of the remote district of Sarguja – where elephants in the wild have been unheard of, for more than a century. Since 1988, 45 people had been killed by the herd and unabated devastation of their fields and homes left the villages bereft of their livelihood. The herd was finally captured in 1993.

The film portrays the man-animal conflict and its repercussions; the tussle between the ancient pachyderm and the tribals of the forest, which is a manifestation of a deeper and more vicious cycle; the disruption of the balance in Nature, on which rests the harmony of existence – the devastation of this critical framework, by mankind’s relentless and unsustainable obsession with power and development.

Positive results:

The Last Migration was a historic movement that led to a 3 year Detailed Project Report (DPR) on the status of elephants and their movements, carried out by Earth Matters Foundation and presented to the Indian government for a three pronged strategy to manage and contain the wild elephants, protect the tribal people and local communities and the setting up of an elephant Orphanage and rescue centre. The DPR was commissioned by the government.

The film was a wake up call right across India and internationally as it was the first actual depiction of man animal conflict over space being played out on the planet. The film also led to the removal of the term “rouge elephants” from use in government and local press, they are now referred to as “Problem elephants”. The film also raised grave concerns and brought to light the massive deforestation that was causing the elephants to come out in search of food and shelter.

The Last Migration led to the establishment of the Elephant Foundation – India

Other Achievements:

This film was the first Asian film to win the world’s most prestigious award – The Green Oscar – Panda Award at the Wildscreen, 1994. It subsequently went on to win seven other international awards.


Director/Cameraman: Mike Pandey
Address: C-18, Chirag Enclave, New Delhi – 110048, India
Phone: +91 11 26410684/26216508 Fax: +91 11 26216508
Websites: www.mikepandey.org & www.riverbankstudios.com/doc_the_last_migration.htm
Email: wildlife@vsnl.com or info@riverbankstudios.com
Earth Matters Foundation: www.earthmattersfoundation.org

By Jason Peters

Maji ni Uhai – Water is Life


The Maji ni Uhai (Water is Life) project was focused upon the Great Ruaha River in Tanzania. This major river used to run all year round, from central Tanzania, to the coast. It goes through the heart of the Ruaha National Park, the second largest in Tanzania, whilst also providing almost half of the country’s electricity at the hydroelectric dams downstream from Iringa. However, problems in the catchment for this river have meant that despite no real decrease in rainfall, the river now dries up completely for most of the year. The surrounding area, the industries, the people, the National Park and the environment are all suffering as a result of this. In the surrounding area there are many signs of desertification, drought and environmental degradation.

The main 45 minute film, made in collaboration with Friends of Ruaha Society (FORS) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), was completed in November 2004. It was aimed at primary school children in the Ruaha area and is presented in Kiswahili but with English subtitles. Emphasis was placed on children’s perspective of water, as mostly it is the children who work with water in the local environment. The film is music rich, all written and performed for the film by local school children. The entries from a local drawing competition about the importance of water were also used, as well as a short animation. The film was narrated by a well known and respected Tanzanian presenter called Godwin Gondwe.

African Sunset

Overview of the main film:

Introduction: the presenter introduces the film, explaining what it is about and what is going to be covered Talking about water: children discuss the importance of water (early primary syllabus).

The Water Cycle: a mixture of archive footage, animation and local examples (later primary syllabus).
The Great Ruaha River: putting the water cycle into context locally through the eyes of a local child.
The large scale problems: using the problems to reinforce educational goals about the water cycle – looking at what happens when you disrupt aspects of the natural water cycle.

The local problems: children discuss the local effects and causes of water shortage Children’s solutions: positive ideas that young people are putting into practise to address these issues
Summing up: a positive message from the presenter and children, with music written especially for the film.

In addition to this, a number of other versions have been produced. Some look at
particular topics within the larger film, for example: trees’ importance in the water cycle, whilst others have been designed to provide variety for FORS when it comes to a screening, looking at animals or “a view from the air”. Another has been produced as a short film for the delegates and decision-makers who attend the up-coming conferences focussed on the problems surrounding the Ruaha.

Other versions

Trees in the Water Cycle: Asks and tackles the question “Why are trees important?”
The Ruaha Problem: Aimed at decision makers. Short and to the point. Also giving visual evidence of current situation.
The Great Ruaha River: As above but aimed at general audience, with more background.
Talking about Water: Children talking about water. Lower primary syllabus.
The Water Cycle: Upper primary syllabus material.
Animals of Ruaha: Fun film looking at some of the animals.
Flying over the Ruaha: Fun film going on a plane journey over the Ruaha
Website clips: for the FORS website (http://www.friendsofruaha.org)
Music Video: One of the songs recorded for the film made into a music video.
Evidence footage: Footage from the flights made available to WCS

Positive results:

The Brock Initiative’s primary aims were to:

  • Undertake a pilot project in Tanzania
  • Work in conjunction with a local NGO, ensuring the films’ local relevance, active use and ability to assess results.
  • Receive film contributions from both professional and non-professional sources, and encourage others to see the value in it.
  • Promote the practical and cost effectiveness of using film as a conservation tool.
  • Encourage and facilitate similar projects to be undertaken by others in the future.
  • To produce a film that would have real practical value as a conservation tool.

FORS’ primary aims for the film were four fold:

  • Reduce water wastage in these local communities.
  • Educate the local community about the major problems surrounding the Great Ruaha River.
  • Increase the impact of their environmental education.
  • Using practical examples, to inspire children and the local community to actively care and take responsibility for their local environment and water resources.

The Tanzanian Ministry & Institute of Education’s broader aims were to:

  • Enrich the diversity of teaching methods and resources used by teachers.
  • Encourage teaching of the new environmental syllabus in primary schools

Tanzania “World Water Day” Premieres. The premiere showings of the Brock Initiative’s “Maji Ni Uhai (Water is Life)” took place in Tanzania last month to coincide with World Water Day. A local mobile screening unit was hired to visit all the villages and schools involved and before the film, environmental teachers led a debate on the importance of water. Every school had also prepared an activity to mark the celebration. Activities included: class visits to a water sources, cleaning of taps, marching through the villages holding posters with different water messages and singing water conservation songs they had written.

After the film showing, every school was able to sing the songs from the film. It left practical challenges for the students and local community, and the feedback was that “film was a perfect tool for spreading conservation education to the community.” When students were asked if they would be able to pass an exam question on water, they responded that they would be “unable to fail”.

The film was shown widely in schools around Ruaha National Park and on Tanzanian TV channels. It is still shown to this day and the song written by a local school still gets played on the radio (Last heard on World Water Day 2010). By 2008, the damaging agriculture in the Usanga wetlands had been stopped by the Tanzanian government and the Ruaha National Park was extended to include this vital catchment area!

“The film evaluations which we have carried out have clearly demonstrated that people are affected in the short time (3-months) by films. It is our opinion that films alone will not change behaviour permanently, but films and their messages will be remembered for a long time (especially where rural people do not see TV) and, if repeatedly reinforced by other education methods (which might be ineffective on their own), then films have been a highly effective partner in conservation education and delivery.” Dr David Harper, CBCF


Project Co-ordinator: Ben Please – The Brock Initiative http://brockinitiative.org/tanzania.htm
Maji ni Uhai – Water is Life (music video): http://www.communityconservationfilms.org/index.php?option=com_jomtube&view=video&id=3
Richard Brock
The Brock Initiative
Dumpers Cottage, Chew Magna, Bristol BS40 8SS, UK
Telephone: +44(0)1275 333187
Website: www.brockinitiative.org
Email: livingplanetproductions@googlemail.com

Non-Profit DVD Availability:

Contact Richard Brock should you wish to use this film or any other footage from the Brock Initiative Film Resource Library:http://brockinitiative.org/footagelibrary.htm

By Jason Peters

Korup – An African Rainforest

Korup – An African Rainforest


In the 1970’s the world was slowly waking up to the devastating levels of tropical deforestation. At that time, international wildlife conservation was focussed almost entirely on the protection of single species. Little attention was being paid to the larger picture of the total ecosystem and the importance of these natural places to the people who depend on them.

In 1977, Phil Agland travelled to Cameroon with the intention of helping to create a programme of conservation that would try to address the central challenge of making rainforest conservation relevant to the lives of local people. An essential prerequisite was to be the making of a film that would focus international attention on the extraordinary biodiversity of tropical forests. Its purpose was to focus attention on one forest in particular – Korup. An ancient ‘refuge’ forest reserve on the border with Nigeria, known at that time to local people and a handful of research scientists, lead by Dr. J. Stephen Gartlan.

Working in Korup was to prove a challenge. Not only had Agland not shot a film before, but Korup proved to be one of the wettest forests in the world, with almost continuous rain for 8 months. Filming entirely alone, Agland combined Korup with a summer job painting houses to pay for the film stock. The next five years was to be a process of painstaking accumulation of behavioural and ecological sequences, often filmed high in the canopy, pioneering such novel techniques as Image Intensified filming at night. The work led ultimately to the finished film, Korup: An African Rainforest that was to become Channel 4’s first natural history film, broadcast in November 1982.

Positive results

The film was chosen to spearhead WWF’s 1982 Campaign to ‘Save the World’s Rainforests’ and the Earthlife Foundation’s Campaign to support the designation of Korup as a National Park, supported by a programme of sustainable development in the designated buffer zone adjacent to the Park.

An official showing of the film to the British Government in 1986, in the presence of Sir Crispin Tickell, head of the ODA, led directly to a grant of £440,000 to the Korup project – the first such Government grant to rainforest conservation.

This grant was followed by grants from the United States, the European Union, and the Dutch and German Governments and a multi-million dollar programme administered by WWF.

Korup was officially declared Cameroun’s first Rainforest National Park in November 1986.

As of 2012, Korup continues to receive significant international funding and remains the focus of a multi-national sustainable development programme.

Subsequent films:

Fragile Earth: A series of six programmes including the award winning Siarau and Selva Verde.


Fragile Earth Retrospective
Baka: People of the Rainforest
Baka: Komba’s Forest
Baka: Growing Up
Follow-up film: Baka: A Cry from the Rainforest http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0192w60
Beyond the Clouds
Spirits, Ghosts and Demons
Shanghai Vice
A French Affair
Love and Death in Shanghai


Director: Phil Agland
Producers: Phil Agland and Michael Rosenberg
Partridge Films Limited

By Jason Peters

A Wild Dog’s Story

African Wild Dog


A poignant, true story about a heroic African Wild Dog named “Newky” whose exceptional life was scientifically documented over a period of five years by the worlds most renowned wild dog biologist, Dr. J. Weldon “Tico” McNutt.

Through Tico’s personal recollections, the film is the dramatic account of Newky’s life, a story that is both heartbreaking and important to understanding the challenges wild dogs face.

Set against the spectacular wilderness of Botswana’s Okavango delta, we follow Newky’s story from the dangers and joys of puppy-hood, through the loss of his siblings in encounters with lions, and into the trials of adulthood.

In a tragic twist of fate Newky’s entire pack is wiped out by an epidemic. Alone, he is forced to endure dangers that should be met by a strong, coherent pack. When finally he finds a mate, she is tragically killed by a farmer’s bullet. Newky remains undaunted, and ultimately succeeds in fathering a new generation of wild dogs.

This is a tale of struggle, endurance and triumph, and of one dog’s extraordinary spirit to win through against almost impossible odds. Above all, it is an emotionally powerful story that shows the complex natural and conservation challenges facing one of the world’s most endangered social mammals.

Positive results:

The wild dog has traditionally been perceived in a negative light, and treated as vermin throughout Africa. The film changed perceptions about African Wild Dogs amongst many viewers around the world:

“I have seen probably every wildlife documentary over the last 10 years. None has touched me so much as the Wild Dog’s Story. Never before has a documentary grasped like this one, the struggle for survival of wildlife. I never thought I could be brought to tears by a wildlife documentary, and I’m an ex-marine!!!”

Most importantly, perceptions were changed which directly saved Wild Dogs from persecution.

Namibian farmer: “I grew up in Namibia and spent years in Botswana. Wild dogs were a pest to me. How this film has changed my perception of them! Thank you for allowing us to understand and appreciate the wild dog.”

There are farmers who, as a direct result of viewing the film, contacted Dr McNutt to discuss wild dog management instead of shooting.

The Japanese used the film in children’s education. A writer from South America, inspired by the film, wrote a children’s story in Spanish about African Wild dogs, based on the film.

The film assisted the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust in fundraising, which significantly contributed to continuing this important study, that is now in its 3rd decade.


Producers: Tania “TJ’ Jenkins & Mike Holding
Postal: PO Box HA 40 HAK, Maun, Botswana
Phone: +267 6862570 /+267 6863721 /+267 6801123
Series Producer: Michael Gunton – BBC NHU
Also see: http://www.truenaturefilms.com/wilddog.htm
For more detailed information about Dr Tico McNutt’s work, please visit: http://www.bpctrust.org/

By Jason Peters


Elephants Without Borders

Title: Elephants Without Borders


Elsewhere in Africa elephants are in decline, but Botswana has an overpopulation problem with over 150,000. A pre-emptive cull of over 60,000 has been suggested. Dr. Mike Chase’s research finds real and meaningful solutions to Botswana’s problem. Chase is discovering their ancient migration routes, now blocked by expanding human settlement, and is lobbying the governments of neighboring counties to open gaps for safe passage.

Previously unrecorded annual gatherings, numbering over 5000 elephants, suggests an elephant intellect far more complex than previously imagined. Dr Chase believes that these clan gatherings reinforce bonds between family groups and that survival strategies are shared.

The film reveals new science about elephant movements and home range sizes. Chase tracks a bull elephant with an astounding home range of 35,000 sq kilometres – the largest ever recorded for an African elephant. Female home range sizes are discovered to be nearly five times the previously accepted average of 3000 square kilometres.

Bull elephants living in the Makgadigadi salt pans are filmed for the first time as Mike discovers how they survive in the hostile desert.

In the end the film reveals the solution: Chase has identified corridors that will allow Angola’s refugee elephants to return home after 30 years of civil war.

Positive results:

As documented by Dr. Mike Chase of Elephants Without Borders Organisation (“EWB”):

The film helped open dialogue between five African countries and has had a direct impact on elephant conservation in Botswana and beyond. The film has:

  • Provided EWB with an audience with the Botswana Government, who then provided EWB with funding to conduct the first independent aerial survey of elephants (and other wildlife) in the Botswana.
  • Boosted the profile of elephant conservation in KAZA (Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier), the world’s largest conservation area straddling Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The film has been viewed by the Government Departments in the five countries charged with formalising KAZA.
  • Aided EWB in securing funding from Conservation Agencies in the amount of US$50 000.00, all of which has been ploughed back into elephant conservation and the KAZA Transfronteir Conservation area.
  • Helped secure funding for EWB’s conservation farming project, in which EWB are researching techniques to keep elephants out of farmlands and thus reduce human elephant conflict.
  • Brought awareness which helped prioritise conservation corridors and areas to initially de-mine in South-eastern Angola in collaboration with the Angolan government and MgM demining company.
  • Created dialogue amongst decision makers on the decommissioning and re-alignment of Botswana’s Vet Fences.
  • Increased awareness amongst the youth about elephant conservation in Botswana.


Producers: Tania “TJ’ Jenkins & Mike Holding
Series Producer: Tim Martin BBC NHU
For more detailed information about the Project and Mike Chase’s work, please visit: http://www.elephantswithoutborders.org

By Jason Peters