Africa, with its diversity of wildlife and vast open spaces, is a hot spot for poachers. Perhaps nowhere else in the world is the life of a ranger more difficult—and more dangerous. Across Africa, rangers find themselves hard pressed to cover all the ground that they are tasked to protect, often enduring grueling physical conditions and facing dangers from poachers, wild animals, and even armed militias.
These dedicated men and women have developed new strategies and tactics to make up for what they lack in numbers. The Zambeze Delta Safari’s elite anti-poaching unit has about two decades of experience, making the team one of the most efficient and mobile anti-poaching units in Africa. Now, the filmmakers behind a new six-part documentary are seeking to share the team’s expertise. Attached to the project are prolific hunter and author Craig Boddington, guide Mark Haldane, and game ranger Craig Windt.
“I’ve been to 32 countries and I’ve seen many, many conservation efforts, but I have seen very few as effective as the anti-poaching unit at Zambeze Delta Safari,” Conrad Evarts, the filmmaker and hunter behind the production of the documentary, told OutdoorHub. “This is especially true considering their limited resources.”
The documentary, currently titled ANTI-POACHING: Proven Strategies and Tactics, explores the techniques behind anti-poaching efforts in the Zambeze Delta. The project, which Evarts said has finished pre-production, is now seeking backers on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. Evarts is hoping to raise nearly $280,000 to film the documentary, which he compared in theme to the reality show COPS.
“ANTI-POACHING will celebrate the sweat, guts and determination of the men pour into their work while examining the development and mechanics of anti-poaching methods. The show will inform, but it will also entertain with high voltage scenes of locating and apprehending poachers,” stated the project’s Kickstarter page.
You can see the trailer for the documentary below.
The documentary will be split up into six episodes, each touching on different facets of the anti-poaching unit’s success. From employing highly mobile dirt bikes to using modern technology like GPS and night vision, the team must stay vigilant to stay one step ahead of the poachers. That means much more than just foot patrols. According to Evarts, it also means keeping solid ties with local communities and learning how a poacher thinks and acts. Evarts and his team’s ultimate goal is create an online summit of wildlife professionals where strategies and tactics can be freely shared.
“We want to basically create an anti-poaching university where these ideas and concepts are incorporated or adapted by agencies in other areas,” he shared. “I have been all over Africa and I have a lot of experience with anti-poaching efforts there, but at the same time I have a lot of connections to wildlife enforcement here in the states. I can assure you that our American wardens can learn from their African counterparts and vice versa. We need to start facilitating that.”
That does not mean that the documentary is filmed just for the professionals. Evarts said that he seeks a wider audience, and ANTI-POACHING will be both entertaining and educational. Evarts said he wants non-hunters to see the documentary as well and learn how sportsmen and women protect the natural resources that everybody enjoys.
“I want people to be able to forward this to people who are opposed to hunting, and have them watch it, and have them understand that hunters care,” he continued. “Hunters contribute to wildlife preservation. Our big audience is the non-hunting world.”
You can visit the Kickstarter campaign here.
Listen to Mark Haldane talk about the history of the Zambeze Delta below: