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Documenting a race against time for Africa’s elephants

Documenting a race against time for Africa’s elephants

The fate of Africa’s elephants, under immediate threat from poaching and an irrevocably changing habitat, should concern us all but filmmaker Lizzie Daly is intent on making a difference.

The up and coming wildlife biologist and broadcaster, who has worked as a presenter on Cbeebies, CBBC, National Geographic and BBC Earth Unplugged, regularly makes her own films with the aim of inspiring more people to produce educational wildlife videos through online vlogging.

Her passion for highlighting the conflicting needs of wildlife and growing human populations is clear in her current project which documents the work of elephant conservation organisation Space For Giants. 

While living and researching alongside rangers in Kenya’s Laikipia reserve, Daly is documenting efforts to protect the elephants by making an online series for the charity to help them expose the issues and develop their social media presence.

“I am producing a 10-part diary style online series showing what life is like in Kenya with elephants and people now living side by side due to a growing human population,” she explains. “Conflict between people and wildlife is at an all-time high. Elephants are trying to find food by crop raiding but in doing so they are destroying livelihoods. In an effort to save their crops people are doing all they can to get rid of the elephants but as a result, are being killed. On top of that elephants are being poached, poisoned and killed by humans.”

Daly is presenter, co-producer (alongside Space For Giants), filmmaker, editor and script writer for the whole series.  She performed similar multiple roles last year in South America documenting the wildlife of Panama, filming crocodiles underwater in the Everglades and elephant seals, orcas and southern right whales in Patagonia.

On both occasions VMI sponsored her with a portable shoot package including Canon 5D Mk3, Canon 70-200mm zoom, a Canon 2x Extender and a GoPro Hero5.

“I wanted to produce a high quality film using professional equipment that was also fairly easy to carry as well as durable since I am out in the bush for extended periods of time,” she explains. “VMI provided it all for me, for which I am most grateful.”

She continues,

The kit has been fantastic. The zoom lens has been essential in capturing great footage of wildlife. A lot of the crop raiding, where humans face up to the elephants, happens at dawn or dusk and the Canon 5Dx has been really great for this. I’ve used the extender for situations where I have to stay particularly far away. Some of the confrontations with wildlife can get pretty hostile so it helped in documenting the goings on as well as getting even better captures of the native wildlife of Kenya.  It has been great in every type of environment out in the field.

Daly is using the GoPro to film footage which require even more fleet of foot. “Some of the activities are quite high action such as running with the anti-poaching rapid response unit running from an attack dog. The terrain is incredibly bumpy and so I need a camera that will allow me to capture the shots showing this in between filming.” 

Daly says she’s always had a passion for conserving elephants but being on the ground with Space For Giants has revealed the full extent of the problem.

“There just simply isn't enough space. The series is being filmed in an attempt to find out whether we can coexist alongside elephants for the long term.”

She’s also her own production assistant too, downloading the 2 x 32GB memory cards each day and backing them up onto a pair of hard drives. She plans to edit on Adobe Premiere Pro and publish the series on the Space For Giants’ YouTube channel as well as shared across all social media sites. Having already starting post production Daly says the first episodes should go live at the end of April. 

“As VMI supply kit to a lot of Natural History projects, it’s great to be able to give something back,” says Gary Davis, Manager at VMI Bristol. “Although we deal in only the technical equipment side of projects, it’s our client’s passion for what they do that always drives us to help them to achieve the very best they can.”

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