When I first met Bonné de Bod and Susan Scott, there were bang in the middle of what would be a four-year journey documenting the rhino poaching crises in South Africa. They had given up their jobs as a presenter and filmmaker and had even moved back home to go behind the scenes in a matter close to their hearts. They had a look at sadness about them, at that stage they’d seen it all, had their hearts ripped out of their chests and come a little too close for comfort dealing with dealers and end users in China. Their goal was to create a film with no sponsorship, other than public donations, so as not to show any bias to one side, while not giving solutions or opinion, just boldly showing the matter for all that it is.
Debuting internationally, the end result of their sweat and tears, STROOP (the Afrikaans word for poached/stripped bare) saw international success in 2018. Claiming awards in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Rotterdam, Berlin and San Diego, the message of the South African rhino in crises was heard the world over. Late in 2018, the film returned home with limited cinema runs in South Africa. And I was lucky enough to be apart of one of the audiences to see the film…
Having grown up and worked in the world of conservation, much of the film comes as no surprise as the horrors of life as a ranger in South Africa’s national parks and the devastation and pain inflicted on rhinos are showcased front and centre. One message that rings ever clear throughout the film, is that it’s not just dead rhinos left behind in an ever-growing demand for horn, but a myriad of babies and orphans are left wandering in the wilderness alone or fighting for their lives in sanctuaries. As the filmmakers travel from the South African bush, to private farms, the streets of Asia, and all the way back again, it seems the situation is devoid of all hope. Yet, deep within the recesses of bloody carcasses and backend dealers, there are shining stars that emerge from the darkness. Those who will give their lives to save a species emerge and tiny orphans find their way back to a life in the wild. Somewhere in that Big Five battleground, hope is found. And it is only through the tenacity of this team of two that their stories are being told.
To hear these stories for yourself, be sure to follow the STROOP film on Facebook and keep up to date with their latest screenings.