The real rhino story, no holds barred, and YOUR chance to make a real difference

Not many people would sell their homes and move back in with their parents to self-finance a wildlife documentary, while refusing funding offers from people who want the message to be watered down and made more palatable for certain interest groups.

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The STROOP team filming a rhino carcass in Kruger National Park. From left to right: Susan Scott, Bonné de Bod and Thapelo Danster ©Jeffrey Barbee

This is precisely what Bonné de Bod and Susan Scott have done, and STROOP – now in edit, with the final release due later this year – promises to be a rollercoaster ride for viewers. It will include footage from the killing fields of Kruger National Park, where they were given privileged access to sensitive scenes, to the courtrooms in bush frontier towns and dingy backrooms of Vietnamese wildlife traffickers, where the intrepid pair endured life-threatening encounters with some of this planet’s most evil individuals. Imagine walking into a room full of suspicious thugs and convincing them you are a film star looking for ivory and rhino horn jewellery – with a hidden camera strapped to your chest!

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Susan Scott attaches a hidden camera to Bonné de Bod for dangerous undercover work amongst wildlife traffickers

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Bonné de Bod talks to an antique dealer in Laos where photographs of rhino horn are displayed in a cabinet. In South-East Asia, this practice usually indicates that rhino horn can be purchased from the establishment ©Susan Scott

Along the way Bonné and Susan also met many passionate people who are making a real difference on the coalface, and a dignified lady with cancer who views rhino horn as her salvation. All this and more packed into what will no doubt be a watershed documentary for awareness about the rhino situation.

Bonné de Bod interviews a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor in Vietnam

Bonné de Bod interviews a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor in Vietnam ©Susan Scott

A Vietnamese cancer patient grounds rhino horn into powder

A Vietnamese cancer patient grounds rhino horn into powder ©Susan Scott

Susan Scott films from a helicopter with SANParks rangers

Susan Scott films from a helicopter with SANParks rangers

‘STROOP’ is Afrikaans for ‘poach’ or ‘strip bare’, and this video has Afrikaans audio with English subtitles. They also plan to have multiple language subtitles, including Chinese, Vietnamese, Zulu and Shangaan.

My one-hour meeting with these two brave filmmakers turned into four as they enthralled me with their stories and footage, and infused me with their focused passion. I left humbled and overflowing with a sense of hope; of respect. And I wanted to get involved, to help them achieve their mission of educating the world about the true rhino story, free from any commercial influence.

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Private rhino owner Yana Mockford with Bonné de Bod during feeding time for her rhinos on her farm ©Susan Scott

And so I paid $25 on their crowd-sourcing web page to receive a digital download of STROOP when it comes out – which I am so looking forward to – and I made a promise to myself to somehow convince you to do the same. Yes, you.

By paying for a digital download of STROOP, or donating a lesser amount, you help ensure that it is completed without editorial censorship by traditional broadcasters. Make no mistake, this will be a controversial documentary – and some interest groups may feel aggrieved when the truth is laid bare.

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Rhino horns, ivory and weapons seized during overnight poaching operations in Kruger National Park

PLEASE HELP Bonné and Susan complete this incredible journey.

Visit the STROOP website to read more, view a few video clips (not the juicy stuff) and to pay for your digital download.

 

Simon Espley

Simon Espley is an African of the digital tribe, a chartered accountant and CEO of Africa Geographic. His travels in Africa are in search of wilderness, real people with interesting stories and elusive birds. He lives in Cape Town with his wife Lizz and 2 Jack Russells, and when not travelling or working he will be on his mountain bike somewhere out there. His motto is "Live for now, have fun, be good, tread lightly and respect others. And embrace change". The views expressed in his posts are his own. Connect with him on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter.

  • judah

    political rhetoric.

  • Padraig

    documentaries like these only tell us what we already know. it also creates donor fatigue. yes, yes, rhinos are being poached…give us $$. etc, etc. please don’t donate to stuff like this. send your money to real conservationists who are working on the ground, not the drive by media that swoops in for dramatic appeal.

    • betty

      agreed! why don’t they tell us about the positive work being done? i’m not donating to sensationalist media.

      • Simon Espley

        Hi Betty. as I mention in the blog post, STROOP will contain many positive stories about the good work being done.

      • Hi Betty…. if you have a look at the STROOP social media, what you will see is one of the most honest, level headed and unbiased campaigns you’ll ever see. There’s certainly no dramatisation of events that’s for sure and the filmmakers are not about that.

        Totally understand you preconceptions, however, do check out the film and see for yourself. See from their social media and you will get a much better impression I’m sure.

        No other film is like this I can assure you, the filmmakers have spent 2 years making STROOP, including filming directly on the ground with rangers, vets and key decision makers… people need to see all of that and I can assure you, that most people won’t have seen what has been filmed for STROOP. People will see the dedication involved from rangers for example.. closer than many people have been permitted to get. From that, then I think the public will get a far better insight into what rhino poaching is about.. which of course will hopefully result in more people being aware, subsequently making donations to the anti-poaching efforts. We need that appeal in order to educate and help the situation… we need a film like this to do that.

        If you don’t get films like this out, how do the greater public become aware?

        STROOP will show you everything, as an independent film, the filmmakers can do that. That will only help tell the the whole story without any dramatisation or special effects. No other rhino film has been has big or as involved as STROOP, so if you want to see the whole story of what’s happening to our rhino, then the only way to learn is with STROOP.

        Many thanks

        You can see their social media on;

        http://www.facebook.com/stroopdiefilm
        http://www.twitter.com/stroop_film
        http://www.instagram/stroop_film

      • You may also be interested in the story of ‘Hope’ .. I’m sure you’re aware of her. STROOP were there to film her original shocking injuries… now only a few weeks ago, they were given access from Saving The Survivors (who they’ve filmed with often), to go film Hope’s recent relocation. STROOP will show the journey of Hope… and what a beautiful journey that she’s made. You’ll see her journey in the film…

    • Simon Espley

      Thanks Padraig, you’re right about donor fatigue. That said, its also important for the true stories to be told – an ongoing process, the fuel that drives and directs rhino support from the public. Without those stories the public would not have the information to know how to help and where to direct donations. In this particular case these 2 ladies have put their lives into filming the true story and have resisted tainted money – in order to keep the message pure. That makes them ‘real conservationists’, surely? Perhaps reserve your judgement for once you have seen STROOP? Keep the passion.

      • totally correct Simon.

        STROOP is a warts and all, no-one has footage like this film has. Including as I’ve commented below to Betty, the story of HOPE, that STROOP have filmed from the start to her recent relocation.. a great positive story that viewers will see in the film.

    • Jamie Smith

      You sounding a bit jaded, which I can understand because rhinos are in trouble. Interesting though that you gather all your info from media, and express your thoughts on media sites – but criticise media like this.

    • Chris Voets

      Thank you for your concern, Padraig. Let me assure you that these women ARE the “real conservationists who are working on the ground”. Unfortunately, where donor fatigue comes from is the very many fraudsters collecting for “rhino conservation”, taking much-needed funds from the good guys. “STROOP”, I can assure you, is an excellent cause to donate to – education is the ONLY way we will stop poaching, and with this documentary Bonne and Susan are amongst those who are leading the way to do so.

    • Bonne de Bod

      Hi Padraig… appreciate your concerns and they are well-founded.
      Early on in the pre-production of the film we found ourselves grappling with the issue of asking the public for funding. But the bottom line for us is that we need the public’s buy-in on the film, because quite frankly there is no other way to make it truly independent and really a film for the public by the public. Books or magazine articles on the rhino poaching crisis are bought by the public because they inform and people want access to that information. And the new era of social media networking and crowd funding offers filmmakers the opportunity to independently fund important films that wouldn’t otherwise be made or seen. I have seen first-hand how documentaries are censored and “dumbed-down” to placate and calm fears… we are losing our rhinos and we have to understand why we are not winning so we can fight this armed with the correct information.
      I firmly believe that we need to show the world, and other South Africans, the hugely complicated issues on this as well as the important work that our heroes are doing at ground zero.

  • a must see film that everyone must see.

    Cannot wait to see HOPE’s journey – which STROOP will feature and has filmed from her initial shocking injuries, upto and including her recent relocation.

    • Bonne de Bod

      Thanks Paul… we filmed her plastic surgery a few days ago and the improvement is unbelievable, Wow! What an incredible fighter she is!

  • Jamie Smith

    Just viewed the video’s on Stroop’s website – can’t wait for the movie to be released.

  • Claire Collinson

    Can’t wait to see this film. It’s about time there is something that shows us everything. Thank you so much.

  • Bronwen Williams Fergusson

    I am just an ordinary, no influence mother, who loves rhinos, am heart broken at every post of the brutal savage poaching of these beautiful animals and who definitely does not want the legacy of my lifetime to be that we sat and watched rhinos become extinct! These two incredibly brave ladies have been my inspiration and saving grace. Two women dedicated to making a difference, exposing the raw facts, that many don’t want to face. Women who have daily come into my “home” on their epic journey to bring “Stroop” into everyone’s lives. To expose, to educate and I think ultimately to inspire all of us to rise and join to stop this slaughter. I have followed their work on FB, television and radio interviews and have been inspired by their never ending search for the truth in covering this brutality. Exposure of this horrendous “industry” is vital in not only bringing justice for the crimes but also hopefully finding workable solutions in saving these incredible animals. I will always be a champion of them and their work. They are my inspiration and I wish I, and all the other passive rhino protectors, had a tiny bit of them in us to drive us as far as they have gone. Never ending thanks and continued support

    • Bonne de Bod

      Thanks Bronwen… absolutely. We have to expose this and keep on shining the light where no-one really wants to.

  • Hermien

    Thanks ladies for your dedication and commitment to bringing the truth about rhino poaching in SA to light. It’s about time we the public hear the whole story! I’m sorry to read the 2 negative comments below. I’m sure once they watch the film they will see this isn’t ‘just another rhino film’. Afterall, you guys sold everything to make this movie and risked your lives going where others fear to enter. Not very many people will do that!

    • Bonne de Bod

      Thanks for your support Hermien! So appreciate it!

  • LisaR

    I had the privilege of meeting these two incredible ladies and witnessing them in action a few years ago and their passion for not only the rhino crisis but conservation as a whole was inspiring. I felt they had a sincere dedication to this heartbreaking topic.
    From their Facebook page and website it is obvious that this film will encompass this crisis in toto, highlighting not only the horror and tragedy involved in each poaching incident but the powerful work being done by the brave individuals who are fighting the crisis hands-on on a day to day basis. I think this film will publicize these remarkable efforts and serve as a platform to encourage people to donate to genuine conservation efforts. Education is a powerful tool and this film has the potential to fully educate the general public, not only locally but internationally, on the reality of the crisis and what is being done to conserve our Rhinos and save the poaching victims.
    Their plea for public funding has allowed them to produce a film which I believe will be untainted by commercial and sensationalist media bias. As Simon Espley mentions these women have made financial sacrifices themselves in an effort to ensure the message is not watered down to suit the palates of people who would prefer the entire story not be heard.
    In my opinion the topic of Rhino poaching is a particularly important one. It is my belief that even though many of our wildlife species face extinction due to human activity and no specie is more important than another, the Rhino crisis is a particularly urgent one given not only the unbelievably rapid decline in Rhino numbers over the last few years coupled with the increase in poaching, but the brutality with which poaching is undertaken and the immense suffering caused to each poaching victim. I feel this film will enlighten the public on these genuine issues and hopefully ignite a fire driven towards eradicating this catastrophe.
    This film has my support both personally and financially and I hope others can also see the importance of the message this film represents and the potential it has to fuel further conservation efforts to save our Rhinos.

  • Andre Fouche

    There are a lot of people who are genuinely trying to make a difference…. I applaud this two ladies on what they are doing and achieving. The problem is so many people are making money from “save the rhino donations” and the money never get to the places it should. It’s like the WFP donating aid to the poor Zimbabweans, you know the money and aid does not reach the poor… But, I do think these ladies and people like Anton Fouche from George 2 Vietnam are really trying to make a difference, and for that I thank you!!

  • Dee Roelofsz

    Well said Bronwen Fergussen, I agree & share your sentiments 100%. I am waiting with bated breath to see this film once complete, another important epose along with Blood Lions that needs to be seen by as many as possible. have been following along as they progress & cannot imagine doing the things these ladies have done & seen in the making of “Stroop”. So pleased that Hope’s story has been included, she is such a fighter & inspiration. So much respect for all involved in bringing “Stroop” to us!

    • Bonne de Bod

      Thanks Dee, and she is! Incredible to see her fighting spirit everytime!

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