Saturday, 16 January 2021

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Ciné-ONU: The Last Animals

On 28 February 2018, Ciné-ONU screened ‘The Last Animals’ to mark World Wildlife Day on the 3 March. ‘The Last Animals’ is a story about an extraordinary group of people who go to incredible lengths to save the planet's remaining rhinos and elephants. The film was shown in partnership with UN Environment and UNODC at Cinéma Galeries in Brussels.

Facebook Live with Caroline Petit and Director, Kate Brooks | ©UNRIC

The screening was preceded by a Facebook Live event with the director, Kate Brooks. Visit our Ciné-ONU Facebook page to watch Ms. Brooks discuss how conservationists, scientists and activists are battling poachers and transnational trafficking syndicates to protect elephants and rhinos from extinction.

The screening was followed by a conversation on the issues highlighted in the documentary. The guest speakers included: Kate Brooks (Director); Chantal Marijnissen (EU DG DEVCO); Thierry Lucas (UN Environment); and moderated by Caroline Petit (UNRIC).

Speaker Panel with Chantal Marijnisssen | ©UNRIC

The discussion initially focused on how Ms. Brooks became interested in this project. She revealed: ‘My background is as a war photographer, but after witnessing a herd of elephants in Kenya, it reminded me that amongst all the human destruction I had witnessed, there was still some sort of natural order, thanks to these majestic creatures’. From this experience, Ms. Brooks shared how she: ‘became passionate about wildlife protection – using the medium of film-making to tell the stories of the rangers and members of the military – who risk their lives to protect endangered species’.

On the issue of how to tackle environmental crime, Ms. Marijnissen stated: ‘there is a clear link between wildlife trafficking, international crime and terrorism’; emphasizing the aim of the EU to ‘look at parks as areas where we can create peaceful zones; because by protecting areas, we protect the people’. Mr Lucas reiterated this, saying that: ‘four environmental defenders are killed per day. We need more documentaries like [‘The Last Animals’] to raise awareness and get more people involved and speaking out’. Despite this, Ms. Brooks stressed that: ‘there is no single solution: teaching and advocacy are hugely important, but laws and law enforcement are essential’; adding that: ‘We need laws that clearly recognize environmental crime as serious crime’.

Speaker Panel with Thierry Lucas speaking | ©UNRIC

In response to this, Mr. Lucas stated that: ‘whilst we do not have an international court to prosecute environmental crimes yet, we are keeping this at the top of the agenda on the national level; what we try to do in the UN is to work with young people, to train the next generation;’ with Ms. Marijnissen adding: ‘we need a multi-pronged approach: with Interpol, with the consumer countries – such as China and India.’

Finally Mr. Lucas closed the discussion by reminding the audience about World Wildlife Day on 3 March; urging the audience to ‘use this as an opportunity to increase visibility about the importance of biodiversity, today more than ever’, because: ‘When a species is extinct, it’s forever’.

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