A hard-hitting documentary exposé of rhino poaching has won its 17th award and is now being shown to communities on the front lines of the crisis.
Stroop: Journey into the Rhino Horn War, by Bonné de Bod and Susan Scott, travels from Kruger National Park to the Vietnam black market in its depiction of the brutality of the rhino horn industry.
“The film is about rhinos, but it’s also about these incredible South Africans on the ground,” Scott said.
The filmmakers have hosted screenings of their film in communities and high schools in Limpopo, and to the staff of Kruger National Park and Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Game Reserve.
“I think it was important to go back to these schools and communities and say, ‘As South Africans, this is what we found, and we’re trying to disseminate this information as best as possible’,” said Scott.
Pupils have been inspired by the film. One told Scott: “Oh my word, we now know what’s going on. We should all be doing something … it’s our heritage.”
Despite its warm reception, local distributors initially rejected the film.
“It was a bit of a battle to get local broadcasters to the table,” said Scott. “That was a hurdle right from the beginning.”
De Bod said: “When we tried to release it in local cinemas, we heard that South Africans don’t support documentaries, let alone documentaries about rhino poaching.”
Scott said the film does not shy away from the brutality involved in poaching, which had made broadcasters hesitant to air it.
However, the success of the film abroad and at home had shown that audiences cared about the issue.
The film’s latest award is best film at the International Wildlife Film Festival, and its showings have sold out in SA’s major cities.
De Bod and Scott are now in talks with kykNet and M-Net about TV airings. “A lot of people feel like they already know about the rhino poaching crisis, but to see it in its context … the brutality … to see the cruelty … it’s actually quite surprising,” said Scott.
“I don’t want South Africans 50 years from now to say, ‘What did you do? We don’t have rhinos now’.”
Desi LaPoole is on an SIT study abroad programme with Round Earth Media