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Hollywood producer refuses to withdraw ‘misleading’ film on poaching in Kenya

A famous film producer who produced a short film dramatising the increase in elephant poaching in Kenya has rejected a call to withdraw it from a leading UK environmental group.

Survival International, who are based in London, say that the Hollywood team behind the controversial film “Last Days of Ivory” have ignored calls to withdraw it, despite overwhelming evidence that it is misleading the public.

The short film, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, claims that the Somali Islamist group Al-Shabaab is largely funded by ivory poaching and links the issue to the Westgate mall terrorist attack in 2013.

Ms Bigelow, who produced the famous film Zero Dark Thirty – about the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the Hurt Locker – had the film screened for the first time in New York last week.


The row comes a day before KWS chairman Dr Richard Leakey is due to give a prestigious lecture on the future of Kenya’s wildlife over the next decade at the School of African and Oriental Studies at the University of London on Monday.

Survival International says Ms Bigelow’s film “advocates a more militaristic approach to conservation that has already proved disastrous for tribes across Africa and elsewhere.”

It also claims that two recent investigations by the Royal United Services Institute, and the UN and Interpol, have found that the conclusion that Al-Shabaab are behind the ivory trade in Kenya is “largely wrong” and the evidence produced “highly unreliable”.

Survival says the film is being used to bolster “the move towards a more violent conservation that criminalises tribal peoples for subsistence hunting.

“Across Africa, tribal peoples are being illegally evicted from their ancestral homelands and suffer violence at the hands of heavily armed anti-poaching squads. They’re accused of “poaching” because they hunt their food. Their lives and lands are being destroyed by the conservation industry, tourism and big business.

“They know their environment better than any outside observer, and can act as the eyes and ears of global efforts to reduce illegal hunting and the destruction of the natural environment.

“The false association between poaching and terrorism that Last Days of Ivory propagates has contributed to an ever more militaristic approach to tackling wildlife crime.