There’s big money in problems. This is what corrupts so many non-profits and NGOs. When there is money in the solution, the solution is found. When there is money in the problem, the problem persists. This is why hunting as conservation works. The money is in conserving the habitat and the wildlife.
We have an opportunity to create a documentary here profiling just such a success story. “Anti-Poaching: Proven Strategies and Tactics” will examine and share the solutions developed by Zambeze Delta Safaris’ Anti-Poaching unit.
Nearly twenty years ago, I earned a degree in broadcast journalism at the University of Montana. My plan was to contribute to a well-informed electorate and help make my country a better place. Boy, was I dumb.
The relentless avalanche of forest fires, car wrecks and scandal washed over me fostering a cynicism I didn’t care for. The solutions never came. Meanwhile, in my heart, raised in the mountains of North Idaho and Eastern Washington, I knew there was a solution. Not to the world’s problems but to mine. It was and is nature.
Shortly after graduating, I worked as a lackey at CBS in San Francisco. A benevolent producer asked me one night, “What do you want to do?” He was looking to give me a break and I blew it. I replied, “I want to make hunting and fishing shows. Nature shows.” He looked at me and said, “I get it. But don’t ever tell anyone here that. You’ll go nowhere.” Five years later I was walking alone through a sugar cane field in the Galapagos Islands with a video camera. I worked for a partner of NatGeo and I realized his prediction came true. I was in the middle of nowhere and I was happier than ever.
Now, here I am in love with wildlife and wild places. The Internet, news, social media and documentaries tell me over and over the things I love are doomed. It’s bad and it’s getting worse and I’d better send somebody smarter than me some money fast or kiss what I love goodbye. Admittedly, it is still doomed by their accounts but they’ll put it off a year or two. Frankly, the problem can’t be solved or their revenue stream dries up.
“Phooey!” I’ve explored wild places in 33 countries all over the world and especially in my backyard of the Western United States. I’ve seen one solution after another succeed because of creative and pragmatic people that love wildlife. From eradicating goats in Galapagos to restoring grizzly bear populations here in the Rocky Mountains, to protecting rhinos in Zimbabwe’s Save Conservancy: Solutions exist. Of course it takes money but it is easy to distinguish between a conservation organization and a fundraising organization.
Solutions are what I found when Craig Boddington asked me to join him last September to tape a show with Zambeze Delta Safaris. Mark Haldane and his staff live in the solutions to poaching. Their focused, pragmatic and evolving methods took Cape buffalo numbers from 1800 when they arrived in this part of Coastal Mozambique to 20,000 today. They stayed creative. They adapted and evolved. They hybridized tools and tactics. They enlisted the people and the communities. They dug wells and built schools. They did it because they had to and they won.
Their solutions need to be shared for many reasons. Here are four:
- To show the world what hunters contributed in one remote corner of Mozambique as an example of what we do all over the world. I hope to give hunters another media tool to counter the anti-hunting propaganda machine.
- To share the effective strategies and tactics of ZDS (Zambeze Delta Safaris) with anti-poaching organizations that may be able to adapt or adopt their methods.
- Increase funding for ZDS over the coming years. With more resources comes innovation. In a couple years we can revisit ZDS and see what they developed.
- To start an online summit where anti-poaching groups around the world can share ideas. In addition to Africans showing North Americans how they track, North Americans can show Africans how they use state of the art forensics to process crime scenes and quite possibly share equipment.
My vision for this documentary is to contribute toward sharing solutions for conserving wildlife. Simple.