There is no such thing as a "typical week" at AEFF. Take the last couple of weeks, for instance.
Production of AEFF's film, 'White Gold' is in full swing. We are entering our last two weeks of filming before the editing phase starts.
During October and early November, Ian and I were filming on the lovely (but muddy) Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Ol Pejeta lies west of Mount Kenya in the Laikipia region and is the largest rhino black sanctuary in Kenya. They take their rhino conservation seriously, with watch towers, high voltage fences and well trained rangers working together to secure this haven for wildlife and tourism:
Above and below, a Black Rhino and (above) a security watch tower in front of Mt Kenya.
And a sense of humour:
In addition to their Black Rhinos and Southern White Rhinos, Ol Pejeta looks after four Northern White Rhinos - these are four out of just seven Northern White Rhinos remaining in the world. These four rhinos had spent their life in a Czech zoo until, three years ago, they were moved to Ol Pejeta to live out the rest of their lives in wild and natural surroundings. To help secure their safety, the Ol Pejeta team saw off their horns - this is a lengthy process carried out once a year over a period of three weeks - cutting a little at a time.
AEFF's film 'White Gold' will show the example of the Northern White Rhino to illustrate how quickly a species can be exterminated in the name of trade and greed. The same could happen to elephants and other species if we are not vigilant.
The photos below show Ian with Mohamed and Jeremy from Ol Pejeta with two of the Northern Whites and two (wild) Southern Whites, after Ian had been filming Mohamed de-horning one of the rhinos:
Above, two Northern White Rhinos. Below, two wild Southern Whites can be seen on the right, the two Northern Whites on the left.
This was our temporary home for two weeks on Ol Pejeta - a tranquil campsite by the Uaso Nyiro River - tranquil that is until the heavens opened every day at 2pm without fail and the campsite became a swamp! That's one of the challenges we expect to face when filming in the middle of the rainy season...
It was during one such rainy afternoon that Ian received a phone call from Washington DC asking him whether he could appear before a Congressional Committee in five days' time to testify about the ivory trade and its implications. So, to cut a long story short, this development saw Ian transported from a muddy tent in Laikipia to Washington DC where he delivered a strong and insightful testimony. The panel brought together by the International Conservation Caucus Foundation delivered diverse opinions, each based on individual experiences - and though not all agreed on the precise nature of the solution, it is encouraging to see the issue of wildlife crime being debated with such seriousness on the world stage. Ian's testimony is about two thirds of the way through this YouTube clip:
Less than a week after leaving and having been to London to film the historic Ivory House on his way, Ian was back in Kenya, where it was back to "business as usual" and loading up the car to get back in the field filming. Our entire life for two months has to fit in the car, including cameras, clothes, tents, bedding, food, water and you-name-it... Testifying before Congress is no mean feat, but fitting everything into the Land Rover is quite another challenge!
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