By Kevin Heath
Finally I’ve managed to sit down and watch the first part of ITV’s mini documentary series Poaching Wars. Firstly I have to say I did enjoy the episode but it was clearly edited with the international – and mainly US – market in mind.
The programme started well but after 40 minutes the pointless padding started to appear which provided network operators with the ability to chop up the programme for ad breaks which tend to be more and longer than in the UK. Why else would the programme spend so much time on Tom Hardy being childish and fooling around on a hammock?
The problem though was that this extra padding detracted from the programme as a whole. Far better to use that padding to get greater depth on more important aspects of the story and leave it to the editors to sort out what to cut and drop for the ad breaks.
That said the programme – and the first half – in particular offered up some great programming on the poaching issue. While it was obvious that the big game ranchers would dominate on a programme like this you have to give hats off to the production team for featuring the plight of the rangers. The ranger they featured was Tumi a ranger at a private game reserve in South Africa.
As one of the ranchers most loyal rangers Tumi had been offered substantial sums of money to provide a government official with a rhino horn. As Tumi admitted he was tempted. It is not surprising that he would be tempted. Low pay is just a small part of the problems facing wildlife rangers on the front line. Being treated as an outcast by your fellow citizens because you are working for rich white ranchers is an everyday occurrence for many rangers. How much more I would have liked that issue to be explored rather than watching Tom Hardy falling off a hammock.
It’s important to realise that poaching is not just a wildlife issue but also a social issue. When you have deep poverty and people needing to feed families there will always be criminals happy to prey on those who need to provide for their families. More....