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In “Stroop,” two filmmakers explore the war for rhino horn. Initially setting out on a six-month project, the duo leave their jobs, sell their homes, move in with their mothers and give up nearly four years of their lives to document not just the rhinos but the various people connected to this iconic animal.
In this roller-coaster ride between Africa and Asia, these women embed themselves on the front-lines of a species genocide where they are given exclusive access to the enforcement aspect of the fight. From rangers, pilots and K9 units patrolling the hardest hit national parks to elite police units raiding wildlife trafficking dens in major cities, they find themselves immersed in a conflict more complex and treacherous than they ever could have imagined.
Spanning academic subject areas from Animal Welfare and Conservation, STROOP is a powerful and comprehensive story of poaching that explores the issue from numerous angles:
CULTURE - The filmmakers take an uncomfortable look at the role that apartheid played in marginalizing indigenous people who have been excluded from their wildlife heritage. These communities live side-by-side with ranger families while poaching syndicates operate in their villages. These bush frontier areas are home to packed courtrooms where the surrounding community come out to support their local “Robin Hood”. Unprecedented access is given over the years to the state prosecutors working in these dingy courtrooms who must fight well-oiled and wealthy defense teams in a flawed justice system.
ANIMAL WELFARE - Survivors of rhino poaching, also challenge the system and come in two versions. Both are hard to spend time with, but this is done through the eyes of the saviors: the vets who choose not to euthanize but use groundbreaking techniques to give patients a second chance. Then there are those who have been orphaned after watching their mothers die at the hands of humans. And yet, they must accept the help of humans to live. One such human suffers a brutal attack when poachers return to the orphanage to kill the survivors.
BLACK MARKETS - At the demand site in Asia, the women venture deep undercover, filming in repressed, totalitarian regimes where every day means staying ahead of communist party monitors as well as enduring dangerous encounters with illegal wildlife dealers. On their return, they work with a Vietnamese researcher bravely trying to expose rhino horn sales inside African markets. Like the filmmakers in her hometown, she now takes great risks in their city to show that illegal trade is everywhere.
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT - The desire for rhino horn is made all the more complex by the journey the filmmakers take to the countryside where ownership of land and rhinos, is viewed as a right. Desperate to trade legally the farmers sue the government but on the other side of all of this is an activist’s journey to fight legal trade. She also takes it to the courtrooms and then on to the streets with protest marches.
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS - Internationally a red line of trade has been set-up by nations tussling with each other and the filmmakers' wade right into this no-go area, spending time with the elite power-brokers who can change, for better or worse, the plight of the planet’s last living rhinos.
THEATRICAL RELEASE IN SOUTH AFRICA & WINNER OF 17 AWARDS
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Susan Scott - Director/Producer
Bonnė de Bod - Investigative Journalist & Co-Producer
Bonné is well-known as an award-winning wildlife television presenter and producer. She has been on South Africa's popular wildlife and environment programme 50/50 for nearly a decade. She is also a special correspondent for SABC's Newsroom and kykNET's Grootplaas. In addition, her series 'Rhino Blog' is on DStv's People's Weather where it is ranked the most popular show. Her in-depth knowledge from four years filming on the ground and doing undercover work in Asia has led to Bonné facilitating discussions on illegal wildlife trafficking for the United Nations Environment Programme as well as talks on the radio, film festivals and wildlife symposiums.