We, as humans, quite often do the most unspeakable things to animals. If we’re not caging them for our own entertainment we’re battery-rearing them to fill our incredibly increasing stomachs. Undoubtedly, in my mind, our worst sin is the destruction of animals for our own vane pleasures. The most heinous crime, shark fins and foie gras aside, is the hunting of elephants and rhinos to use the ivory in their tusks for trinkets or fake medical remedies. Kate Brooks’ new film, The Last Animals, concentrates on the latter.
Brooks starts at the end. Using a hidden camera, she travels to South East Asia to demonstrate the flagrant selling of ivory to wealthy tourists. She then works her way back to the source, through the organised gangs of dealers and traffickers to the poachers and rhinos themselves. This is at the heart of her documentary. There are only 5 Northern White Rhinos left in existence. The Last Animals follows those rangers who protect their conservation areas and those scientists desperately trying to breed more.
The Last Animals is a wakeup call. Not just about the parlous state of many species of rhinos or indeed elephants, but all animals. Brooks heralds the heroes. Those working and putting their lives on the line to save these animals. Then there’s the villains. Not just the poachers, smugglers and traders, but also those countries who do not have an outright ban on the sale of all ivory. As with many aspects of human life, money seems to matter more than the state of our planet. The Last Animals is a compelling documentary about why we need to take action now.
The Last Animals screens at Bertha Doc House from 10 November. The London premiere, with Q&A, takes place on 8 November.