Commemorating World Elephant Day, Akashinga: The Brave Ones, from three-time Academy Award winner James Cameronand directed by Maria Wilhelm, will premiere on the National Geographic channel (DStv 181, StarSat 220) on 12 August at 20:40 CAT. The film tells the story of Akashinga, the all-female anti-poaching unit in Zimbabwe that is facing down poachers and saving wildlife.
With many of Africa’s key species, including elephants, reaching levels near extinction, Akashinga is a radical, new and highly effective weapon against poaching. Founded by former Australian special forces soldier and anti-poaching leader Damien Mander, the women-only team of rangers, drawn from the abused and marginalised, is revolutionising the way animals are protected and communities are empowered — and its members’ own lives are being transformed.
Mander’s innovative approach to conservation calls for community buy-in rather than full-on armed assault against poachers: If a community understands the economic benefits of preserving animals, then it will eliminate poaching without an armed struggle. This film is a celebration of the courage, conservation and unorthodox thinking that is leading to massive positive change.
“The illegal trafficking of wildlife is one of the world’s largest criminal industries, linked to terrorism and, some evidence suggests, to the pandemic we are struggling to stop. Wildlife trafficking must be stopped at the source. This is the job of wildlife rangers like the Akashinga. They are the first and last line of defense not just for nature, but also for humanity.” – Mander, founder and CEO of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation and Akashinga
“While we battle with an increasingly powerful viral enemy, the poaching wars rage on. The Akashinga are front-line warriors — fiercely committed to protecting Africa’s most vulnerable species and to securing a positive future for their communities. They fight to ensure nature wins.” – Executive Producer James Cameron
“With the scourge of poaching devastating wildlife not only in Zimbabwe, but across the African continent, it is fitting that we pay tribute to the remarkable bravery shown by the Akashinga anti-poaching unit this World Elephant Day. I hope that their tenacity and perseverance will inspire viewers across the continent” – Evert van der Veer, Vice President, Media Networks, The Walt Disney Company Africa
Akashinga is more crucial now than ever: As the global pandemic crisis COVID-19 wages on and resources become increasingly scarce, wildlife will be especially vulnerable to poachers.