Poaching is such a crucial and deep subject, linked to an even more bottomless one of conservation of species, that it will never lose dramatic currency, at least, until we as a humanity will be able to say that we had been able to tackle it completely. This documentary focuses on the areas in Western Africa that don’t usually get coverage in conversations about poaching: Cameroon and Congo-Brazzaville. We look at the issue from the perspective of a number of players who are trying, against odds, such as poor funding, bureaucracy, and lack of resources, to protect the animals. Elephants are central to this narrative, and the footage of these forest dwellers in the film is so powerful, I have goosebumps and tears pooling in my eyes just remembering it. The same goes to the human characters in the film: a female park ranger who has to sacrifice time with her family to be able to break the glass ceiling in the area of conservation; a repentant ex-poacher who openly speaks about his path from poverty to tusk hunting; a Czech man who trains puppies and pretends to be an ivory buyer—both to fight poaching; a local NGO tirelessly investigating poaching occurrences. And above them all, in a treehouse of his own construction, a tender scientist who observes elephants with night goggles.
A heart-rending but hope-inspiring documentary made by American Mariah Wilson, it’s wonderful material to learn more about poaching, but also great for those who already know a lot about it. And, the added bonus: there is a ton of dogs in the film, including puppies being born. Puppies. Being. Born. Watch it now!
Silent Forests, 2019
Director: Mariah Wilson
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