Lonely Planet Writer

How drones are protecting animals against poaching across Africa

A stunning short film has been produced that highlights that role of drone technology in the war against the poaching of Africa’s wildlife. Over and Above Africa, a Los Angeles charity, collaborated with writer Andy Fackrell and director Sam Coleman to create the 90-second film called “A Guardian,”  to demonstrate how drones can help protect endangered animal groups.

A short film highlights that role of drone technology in the war against the poaching of Africa’s wildlife. Image: Over and Above Africa

The video is completely shot by drone and it shows amazing aerial footage of the movement of groups of wild animals in their natural habitat. As the groups are featured, they are captioned with their respective and charming collective nouns, so we get to see a dazzle of zebras, an implausibility of gnus and a wobble of ostriches.

Groups of animals are captioned with their respective collective nouns. Image: Over and Above Africa

While that’s adorable, the film takes a sinister turn when ‘a gang’ of poachers is tracked on the drone’s night vision camera. It shows the poachers armed with weapons fanning out in the game reserves, and then cuts to the remains of young elephants, presumably butchered for their ivory tusks. All of Africa’s animal groups are threatened by poaching,” the film says. “Drone surveillance increases their chance of survival by 80%.

The aim of the video is to urge people to donate to the charity, which raises funds to help prevent the extinction of Africa’s endangered animals. Supplying drones to game reserves can aid them in spotting poachers and help prevent the eradication of Africa’s endangered animal groups.

A Guardian shows the role drone technology can play in protecting wildlife. Image: Over and Above Africa

“My hope through the film is to expose how ruthless and decimating the poaching industry is to Africa’s wildlife,” writer Andy Fackrell tells Lonely Planet. “Being in the Serengeti for the first time was a humbling, pure experience that left its mark on me. The delicate ecosystem has to be protected, and drones are proving to be an unlikely saviour. Humans can turn this around, but the rangers, who are putting their lives at risk every day, need all the help we can give them. They’re the heroes. If we can supply the tools, the animals can have some sort of chance.”

Ranger Cosmo launches his drone while filming in South Africa. Image: Over and Above Africa

Andy says that one of the big challenges was conveying an emotional, hard-hitting message in a way that engages with the audience, as bombarding them with awful images can be counter-productive. “You just click off,” he says, “so being able to utilise these playful collective nouns and romanticising the other, non-iconic, animals helps lull the viewer.”

Writer Andy Fackrell (left) with director Sam Coleman. Image: Over and Above Africa

“A lot of time and obsession went into the edit, with the use of the typical kid’s book type font, the way the type gently spreads, and the wonderful track by Ezio Bosso, to build you up for the shock of the slaughter scene. It was such a delicate operation to frame that one scene with what goes before and after, and to hold viewers for this length of time so they may feel invested in the cause.”

A wobble of ostriches captured by drone. Image: Over and Above Africa

For further information on how you can help Over and Above Africa, see here.