The fight to save South Africa's wild rhinos

June 18, 2021
Film still from The Last Horns of Africa. Image:

The Last Horns of Africa
Directed by Garth De Bruno Austin

The poaching of wild rhinoceros in Africa is driving the species to the brink of extinction. This South African documentary is aimed at motivating audiences to get involved in conservation efforts.

It also ventilates some controversial debates in conservation circles about whether rhino horns safely harvested from captive beasts should be legally sold to help finance rescue projects.

The Last Horns of Africa includes real-life footage of an undercover police operation to capture two of the biggest poaching bosses in South Africa.

All this is intertwined with scenes of a rhino orphanage for the calves of poached animals. The location of the rhino orphanage is secret, to prevent poachers from raiding it.

To win over the viewer, the film-makers have thrown everything at the screen, including blatant tear-jerking attempts and mawkish sentimentality.

Nevertheless, the documentary exposes the extraordinary reality of nature conservation in South Africa: it is essentially a guerrilla war — park rangers carry automatic weapons and operate in battle formations.

The criminals involved are quite prepared to assassinate those interfering in their trade.

Unfortunately The Last Horns of Africa does not attempt to analyse the social and economic history of this situation.

Something else of concern is that all the people in a position of authority are white, while all those doing the hack work are Black. This is unremarked upon by the film-makers.

[The trailer for The Last Horns of Africa can be seen here, where you can also financially support the conservation efforts.]

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