Conservation Collaboration

22 January 2018

School of Film & Television students have been working on five conservation films, addressing subjects such as elephant poaching and predator poisoning, that will be sent to rural communities in Kenya.

Anna Roberts, a wildlife producer from Bristol, who has been personally supervising the students for three weeks explained: "Much of the content of these films is based on conflict between humans and the wildlife and how to mitigate the problems that people have with the animals that destroy their crops and kill livestock.

"Often what you find with these types of films is a foreign presenter who steps up to be the hero and the main focus, but really it's the unsung heroes in these communities who have stepped out of their local traditions and culture to make a difference."

Students are working with rushes that are filmed entirely in the Maa language, using a translation software called InqScribe they are creating films following the conservation efforts of the people in the Maasai communities.

The films follow intrepid individuals such as Sisco, who has become habituated with a group of baboons and is learning their communication calls, which is particularly commendable as these animals are despised by many within his culture. Peter Tompoi, a village elder, has taken it upon himself to protect a maternity forest for elephants from poachers, recognising the importance of these endangered animals to the ecosystem. 

Jonny Murress, a second-year Television student, said: "This project has given me a feel for what it would be like to work in the industry and what would be expected. It's great to know that the completed films have a real-world impact, as well as a proper audience."

The project will be taken on a trip around Kenya using a bicycle-powered cinema by the charity Stand Up for Nature, set up by Exeter Zoology graduates Hannah Pollock and Jamie Unwin. They'll be shown to communities who have likely never seen an elephant and perhaps do not understand why the preservation of wildlife is such an important issue.