Rhino movie a bloody must-see

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rhino sep 29 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS File photo

Johannesburg - These days, if you’re looking for the traditional virtues of the BBC documentary, you’re more likely to find them in the politically repressive hothouse of Qatar in the United Arab Emirates than you are in the UK or any of the relatively open democracies of Europe.

From the Arab Spring to the bloodbaths of Libya and Syria and, latterly, the Marikana massacre, it has been Al Jazeera that provided the cutting-edge coverage.

Tonight at 10, Al Jazeera will quietly be broadcasting what is likely to remain for some time the definitive rhino conservation movie.

The why is largely simple: because enough money and time were pumped into the project to ask and to answer the right questions.

The crew, faced with several hundred rhinos killed in South Africa, the majority of them in the Kruger Park, was in a position and had the wit to cross the border into Mozambique.

What the correspondent finds are communities at the cusp of the modern world, well stocked with firearms held over from liberation wars – and with just one or two members standing out by reason of owning a brand-new 4x4. These are the poachers, and there is a long queue of children who want to be like them.

Earlier, the viewer is exposed to a series of harrowing images of a living rhino cow, left with a bloody mess in the middle of the head after DIY surgery by chainsaw.

The film also travels to the Far East and grimy dealerships crammed with hundredweights of the horn. To no scientifically discernible end of course, as is noted. As is well-known, the horn is keratin and has no empirically proven medical uses, nor any aphrodisiac properties.

It is not easy watching, but The Last Rhino is worth the watch, not only because it goes where other journalists have not, but because it goes a long way to challenging glib assumptions and asking the right questions.

The Star

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