THE STORY - In December of 2013 the largest elephant in the world was seen for the last time in a remote corner of South Africa. His name in Zulu was Isilo, which means King of Kings. He was much-loved by many and even had his own Facebook page with over 16,000 fans! Conservationists and concerned community members searched for months on end for his body until, in late March of 2014, the carcass of the giant was found, his magnificent tusks GONE.
This documentary covers the life of this magnificent animal, the future of the park's remaining big tusker elephants and the future of the last big tuskers elsewhere in Africa. We focus on the last known video of Isilo. We also delve into the mystery of his death. Isilo’s massive tusks were believed to be the largest in the world, measuring an estimated 9 feet in length and weighing around 150 pounds a side. When Isilo died the tusks were meant to stand at the entrance to Durban International Airport. Where did the ivory go?
Tembe ranger Tom Mahamba, producer James Currie and big tusker expert Johan Marais will journey from South Africa to Kenya to document the world's last remaining big tuskers. We will chronicle the Tembe Elephant Park's efforts to protect the Tembe big tusker gene and to explore the feasibility of its introduction to other parts of Africa where the gene for big tusks has been eliminated. We delve into the alarming escalation of tuskless and small tusked elephant populations throughout Africa. With the rapid migration of elephant poaching southward, this research cannot come at a better time. In May of 2014, Tembe Elephant Park lost its first confirmed elephant to poachers and the theft of Isilo's tusks is just the beginning.
Will hunting and poaching be the end of elephants as we know them? Will our children have the privilege of seeing elephants with even moderately-sized ivory in future? Something needs to be done NOW to save the world's remaining giants.
JAMES CURRIE is a life-long wildlife enthusiast, TV host, published author and native of South Africa. His passion for elephants drives this film.
GREG NELSON is an extremely skilled wildlife cameraman and director and has much experience filming elephants. His creative eye drives this film.
TOM MAHAMBA lives in Tembe Elephant Park and is a main character in the film. His story-telling drives this film.
MONICA LEE has loads of experience starting small businesses and running non-profit organizations. Her advice drives this film.
ROSS GOODE is an environmental maniac and lover of all things wild. His knowledge of the African bush drives this film.
JOHAN MARAIS is the world's authority on big tusker elephants. A well-respected large animal veterinarian, his experience drives this film.
HOW WE WILL SPEND YOUR MONEY - We have already completed two filming trips and have logged all our footage. We need to embark on one more trip to Kenya to film the country's remaining big tuskers. We require $25,000 to complete the final filming requirements and for post-production. Any additional funding raised will be applied to much-needed editing/post production, marketing, purchasing of archival footage and music rights.
Proceeds from Last of the Big Tuskers will go to two elephant conservation organizations: Elephants Without Borders and the Tembe Tusker Foundation. Many thanks to the staff of Tembe Elephant Park and Tembe lodge for their support and unfailing assistance.
"Nature's great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great thing..."
John Donne, English poet
Risks and challenges
The largest challenge may be convincing both park officials and suspected poachers to open up to camera. Any good documentary needs to present a balanced view and its therefore important to project both sides of the poaching crisis. Suspected or even convicted poachers may not open up for obvious reasons but park officials may also be hesitant to provide information that could reveal their own challenges and shortcomings. It is hoped that we will overcome this through tact and honesty about what the documentary aims to portray.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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