The screening of the documentary and subsequent discussion with the film’s director, Jakob Kneser, marked the successful start to the Dominican Republic Environmental Film Festival (DREFF) 2015 at APEC University, with the participation of dozens of students who are beginning their first semester in Ecology studies.
The documentary Gambling on Extinction shows the death camps of elephants and rhinos in Kenya and South Africa and the distribution centers in Vietnam and China, where elephant ivory and rhino horns are illegally sold. Using undercover investigators and the testimonies of forest rangers, former poachers, conservationists, and buyers, Mr. Kneser illustrates the story of greed.
The illegal wildlife trade generates $20 billion dollars a year and is controlled by powerful international businesses, organized investors and heavily armed warlords.
Maria Margarita Cordero, Director of UNAPEC’s Department of Social Sciences, led the activity with great enthusiasm. She invited the students to see the film and meet with the director, as a way of maximizing the experience and better understanding the issue through a documentary based on thorough research.
Elina María Cruz, Director of Communications for the Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (Funglode) thanked the students for their participation at the event held in the Salón APEC de la Cultura. In the name of the DREFF, Ms. Cruz invited the students to attend the rest of the screenings that are part of this year’s Festival
Students from the Departments of Economics, Business Administration, Marketing, and Advertising who are taking Ecology courses applauded enthusiastically at the end of the film as an expression of their satisfaction with Kneser’s message in Gambling on Extinction.
“The film was very educational. I think it filled its purpose in terms of raising awareness of the general public with respect, in this case, to illegal hunting,” said Ms. Cordero. And, for that reason, she added, “We must support and continue these types of initiatives.”
Kneser said he was satisfied with the question-and-answer format with the audience. “I had not done this before because the film has only been shown on television and the Internet, so I was not able to see the reaction of the audiences.”
Among his responses to the viewers, Kneser emphasized the need to take action to confront the illegal poaching of animals – particularly rhinos and elephants – in order to sell their ivory and horns.
He said his film was made with the goal of creating awareness of the problem and to generate pressure on governments to make decisions to remedy the situation.
Marketing major Javier Pérez was among the students who appreciated the lessons learned: “The film was good because it had a message for everyone in the world about what is happening in Africa and about the illegal sale ivory and rhino horns in Asia.”