When photographer and friend Steven Lyon told us about the breakthrough documentary he is working on to expose rhino poaching and trafficking, we felt it was urgent to pass the word out as his upcoming documentary is crowdfunded!
First things first, if you do not know his works, start by exploring the retrospective we had published in June 2012.
Now if you do not have time to read the rest of our article you can go straight to the IndieGogo crowdfunding campaign to learn about the project and, hopefully, contribute: "Something that Matters: a film to save the Rhino".
"With an average of 3 rhinos killed per day and rhino horns fetching more street value per ounce than cocaine or gold, the stakes are extremely high, and time is running out."
Editor: Who are you?
Steven: I've been a photographer in Paris for the last 20 years. Now I'm based In NY and I'm on a mission to make a film in Africa and shed light on the Rhino poaching crisis.
How did this project come-up?
Over a year ago, I was on safari in the Manyeleti region in South Africa and my guide explained the crisis in detail and told me of a 1000k trek in the bush. The trek was organized to bring awareness to the Rhinos plight. I said immediately that it was possible and I'd like to come and be a part of it, bring a film crew. All of which I did.
What is the best way to address such a widespread catastrophy whereas most attempts have failed in saving wildlife against poachers and trafficking so far?
That is a big debate all across Africa. Should they legalize horn trade? Dart and poison the horn? Chop off the horn so no one will want to poach the animal? None of those measures has proven to be the answer and this film will show all the possibilities out there. It will not make a stand on any particular action, simply because it's all arbitrary at this time.
What will you do with the $200k target budget?
Well, this film is a proper movie, not a documentary shot with a DSLR. Red Digital Cinema Camera Company is sponsoring equipment but I'll be filming 3-4 months both in Africa and in Asia with a crew of 8 people, so 200k goes quickly. Afterwards there will be post production in the States. Editing will take months, sound and music, marketing etc. It's actually little money for a proper film.
Who is behind this poaching business and can you curb the demand from Asian customers?
The demand is mainly out of Vietnam and China. The horn usually gets there via Maputo in Mozambique on to Thailand and then into China and Vietnam. The orders actually come from Thailand on to Mozambique and they cross into South Africa to kill the horn by recruiting many of the poachers from surrounding poor villages. I think education is a big part in curbing the poaching in South Africa. If the villagers understand that this is their Africa and their animals, and without wildlife they or their neighbors won't have jobs, it will stop. The local villages where they recruit poachers have an 85% unemployment rate, and many of those jobs are on game reserves.
What is done to practically fight poachers or help them change attitude and get other means of survival?
Well the game reserves spend millions to hire armed guards to protect the rhino. But many times an owner will look the other way and let one of his rhinos gets killed, justifying it by saying he will use that money to protect the others! Bottom line is Rhinos are worth more dead than alive. and less are being born now that they are poached. So if they are unchecked it's only a matter of time.
STEVEN IN THE WILD
WHAT POACHING LOOKS LIKE IN PRACTICE
"Just days before, Steven filmed this same beautiful white Rhino in all its majesty."
"CECI N'EST PAS UN RHINO"
(but it shows Africa's beauty)
A LAST PICTURE TO LEAVE YOU ON A SWEET NOTE
You can find additional information on PR web.