A herd of elephants walks through a clearing. Adults, juveniles and babies have their backs covered in rich sienna dirt protecting them from sunburn and contrasting them against the bush foliage, ochre grasses and trodden path. The camera switches to black and white night vision. This bucolic scene of the garden of Eden gives way to elephants’ screams. Suddenly, we are behind a rifleman in a helicopter taking aim at the herd. Cut to a local as his eyes dart back and forth until he spots his prey. He reaches his arm back to thrust a spear. Swiftly, it flies but misses its mark. The elephants run away from view. They are lucky this time.
Wild Daze tells a brutal story through interviews with experts. Jane Goodall, UN Messenger of Peace, is the most renowned of these speakers. In addition to biologists and representatives from animal groups, these experts include a member of US Special Forces, a rifle salesperson, a journalist, a big game hunter and others giving in-depth perspectives accompanied with footage and stills. You too might note that the majority of people that spoke on camera were White.
SAVE THE WILD, SAVE YOURSELF is the WILD DAZE slogan
Like peeling an onion, this film tackles the complicated and interconnected issues of Africa’s natural resources being plundered. AFRICA IS NOT POOR, is a re-occurring statement. The messages are clear. Elephants and rhinoceroses are being killed for ivory. Soon they will become extinct if action isn’t taken soon to stop their slaughter. The ivory is sold illegally for cash and weapons. The cash and weapons go to warlords, Al Qaida and corrupt officials. The supply chain smuggling illegal ivory also is involved in human trafficking, child labor, and drugs.
Wild Daze is divided into three acts: Crime and Corruption, Human/ Wildlife Conflict and Legal and Illegal Hunting. What role do US citizens play in the extinction of these majestic creatures? How are elephants, rainforests and savannahs connected to climate change? How do we stem illegal international trade and terrorism? SAVE THE WILD, SAVE YOURSELF is the film’s moniker.
Many, like this writer, might find the BEWARE OF WILD ANIMALS sign in the film quite ironic. Do we need to fear wild animals more than we need to fear fellow humans?
Viewers interested in learning more about wildlife conservation, the poaching crisis of elephants and rhinoceroses, Africa, global economics, international crime and terrorism, will engage with this film. People looking for a travel film about photo safaris or dancing Maasai warriors should probably look elsewhere.
Reviewer’s Advisory: WILD DAZE includes graphic and disturbing scenes of violence to humans and animals alike.
Editor's Note-The director of this film clarifies, "I wanted to share the fact that I couldn't find Black Africans to appear on camera...I filmed one KTN journalist in the movie (but in hiding behind a gas station as this famous on-air newsman had just named kingpin poacher names and was hiding for his life)...others I approached or filmed, could be fired, or disappeared for $20 for speaking the truth or for even mildly criticizing officials." "Even white and very famous NGO leaders cannot speak out on camera...they will be kicked out of the country or imprisoned."
Director, Producer, Writer: Phyllis Stuart
Executive Producers: Cecilia DeMille Presley, Andrew Sugerman, Eli Weiss, and Elaine Hastings Edell
Narrator: Keith David
Music Composer: Lolita Ritmanis
Cinematographers: Cosmus Mwongela, Dave Summers,Gilbert Maina and Meryem Eroz
For more information on this film and how to see it, please visit the WILD DAZE.
Images courtesy of WILD DAZE
About the Author: Caryn Hoffman
Ms. Hoffman has a degree in art and her life’s work has been environmentally and politically focused. After community organizing on both coasts, she had a career as an educator in Southern California. Now, semi-retired, Ms. Hoffman leads an active, outdoor lifestyle, continues to advocate for the environment and travels. She is especially fond of art, film, cultural events and is an ardent, live music fan. She loves adventure travel including camping, hiking, kayaking, rafting and road biking.