Featured Short

Sides of a Horn

The journey of two men, from the same family, fighting on either side of Africa’s poaching war

From Executive Producer Sir Richard Branson, Sides of a Horn is the first film to tell the story of Africa’s poaching war from both sides of the fence. Based on actual events, and filmed in one of the communities most directly impacted by wildlife crime, we follow the journey of two brothers-in-law fighting on opposite sides of Africa’s poaching war. This 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.

In 2016, while travelling in South Africa, I found myself lost in the natural beauty of the game reserves and the wildlife who call it home. One afternoon, I was walking through the bush with a game ranger, when we stumbled across a white rhino. What struck me more than the animal’s beauty was that this scene could have been taking place 50 million years ago or today. I was looking at a living, breathing time machine in a land that time forgot. However, the magic of that moment was over when I found out that this magnificent creature is being massacred to the brink of extinction.

Speaking to people living near these parks, I learned that men and women from the same communities, and sometimes even the same family, are killing each other, along with their iconic rhino, to feed an entirely unnecessary demand on the other side of the world. A nonsensical demand for rhino horn in parts of Asia is fueling a poaching war across Africa. International crime syndicates are preying on desperate people living near protected areas, and offering them a fraction of the overseas profits to poach from their own wildlife. Meanwhile, proud antipoaching rangers are putting their lives on the line to protect the animals.

When I got back to the U.S., I continued researching and found that there was a fair amount of international media coverage about the multi-billion dollar illegal wildlife trade, but nobody was talking about the communities on the ground who were being torn apart by this war. My objective as a filmmaker became clear – I was going to expose the social impact of the illegal wildlife trade and humanize the men and women most directly affected. I wrote a dramatic short film, based on actual events, that explores how two people from the same level of poverty, the same community, and even the same family can end up on opposite sides of this war.

The poaching crisis is a complex issue and the conversation around it must go beyond simple right and wrong. By painting an unbiased portrait of this modern war and 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.

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