Sides of a Horn, a short dramatic film by director Toby Wosskow and executive producer Richard Branson, is the first film to tell the story of Africa’s poaching war from both sides of the fence.
The short film, which you can watch below, explores how two men from the same family in find themselves on opposite sides of Africa’s poaching crisis. Based on actual events and filmed in one of the communities in South Africa most directly impacted by wildlife crime, the dramatic short film paints an unbiased portrait of a modern war that is tearing communities apart and driving a prehistoric species to the verge of extinction.
The British-born director Toby Wosskow is aiming to reach a new audience with Sides of a Horn, not the ones who are activists already but rather those are not yet aware of conservation. He said: “There have been a lot of incredible documentaries that have done so much for the poaching crisis. However, there is a large group of people that the documentaries are not reaching – the people who only watch narrative films, and the people who are not yet open to the concept of conservation.
“By approaching this as a dramatic, cinematic, human story, I hope we can widen our audience beyond those who are already activists. While the film is fictional, spending time with the people in the middle of the crisis allowed for every line of dialogue, every character and every story to be written from a direct level of truth.”
While the poaching crisis is a complex issue, Toby Wosskow is adamant that the conversation around it “must go beyond simple right and wrong” hence why Sides of a Horn portrays an unbiased account of this modern war. He envisages Sides of a Horn exposing the social impact of the rhino horn trade in a similar way to Blood Diamond’s effect upon the diamond trade and Sharkwater’s impact upon illegal shark finning.
He added: “By exposing both sides of the struggle, it is my hope that Sides of a Horn will be a catalyst that inspires a greater discussion that can lead to positive change. The human death toll is rising and the rhino is facing extinction within a decade. One strength of the short film medium is the ability to tell vital, urgent stories, and this story is as urgent as they come.
“The most common mentality in fighting this crisis is ‘buy more guns, kill more poachers’. By humanising the men and women on the ground, and showing the complexities of their situation, I hope our film makes people consider more sustainable solutions. We have to find ways to incentivise the people living next to protected areas to take care of their wildlife instead of poaching it. The point of the film is not to provide answers, it is to create a conversation. I believe positive change can only begin with open dialogue.”
South Africa holds nearly 80% of the world’s rhinos and has been the country hit hardest by poaching criminals, with more than 1,000 rhinos killed each year between 2013 and 2017, according to conservation charity Save The Rhino.
Executive producer and Virgin entrepreneur, Richard Branson said: “I love how Sides of a Horn shows many different perspectives and treats the viewers with respect, allowing them to make up their own minds and understand the complexities that drive the tragedy of poaching.
“I hope it encourages viewers to find out more about the global illegal wildlife trade and take action. Share its message, write to key policymakers, and support charities like WildAid who are tackling the issue.”
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com