Directed by James Suter and Charlie Luckock of Black Bean Productions, conservation doccie titled The Edge of Existence will make its debut at four international film festivals over the next two months.
It looks at issues around the human-wildlife conflict in Africa and will be premiered at the Freeland Film Festival, the Garden Route International Film Festival (Griff), the Ireland Wildlife Film Festival and the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival.
The film delves into the issues, causes and challenges of the threat to wildlife and human life on the African continent, zooming in on Tanzania, and considers the solutions. Black Bean Productions focused on the western boundary of the Grumeti concession area, but the issues covered are universal across wildlife areas globally.
“What we are really trying to do with the human-wildlife conflict story comes from an objective opinion. Look at both sides. Look at the people living with wildlife, empathise with them. Look at the wildlife that is affected by the people and empathise with them. Look at the conservation organisations that are working to mitigate conflict, but at the same time protect wildlife, which ironically actually has a negative effect on people,” explained Suter.
The documentary looks at the conflict from a very personal perspective, considering the lives and the stories of both conservationists and community members.
“One of the most interesting things about this project is that it’s a story that hasn’t really been told, and it’s a story that affects populations of people all around the world, as well as wilderness areas and the wildlife that inhabits them,” said Suter.For instance, in a single sitting, an elephant or herd of elephants can decimate a field of mielies, destroying a family’s food and income for a season.
On the other hand, the Grumeti Fund Research and Monitoring team collars elephants in the Grumeti Concession. Collaring is an effective way to monitor an elephant’s movement to ensure that they do not enter local villages, which helps keep the elephant safe. It is also an important part of research and monitoring, which helps the Grumeti Fund keep track of population growth and distribution of elephants in the ecosystem.
The Grumeti Concession, located in the Western Corridor of the Serengeti is a stronghold for an incredible variety of species, each playing an important role in maintaining the balance of this ecosystem. The Serengeti is also home to The Great Wildebeest Migration, one of Africa’s most iconic wildlife shows.
The Edge of Existence specifically focuses on one mitigation strategy, which is highly controversial in Tanzania,“We focus on whether building a fence is an effective way to mitigate human-wildlife conflict. There are many different perspectives around this mitigation strategy, which The Edge of Existence touches on, and the film explores why it is an effective tool that will ultimately promote the peaceful co-existence of humans and wildlife that inhabit an area, as well as the controversy around building a fence,” concluded Suter.
The Edge of Existence will be available to view online for a limited time as it heads to the four festivals.