CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 6. . . . November 15, 2002
Documentaries about animals never fail to attract interest. The National Film Board of Canada has created a series designed to educate people about the plight of animals endangered by human settlement and poaching. Black and White Rhinos shows how two people prevented these unusual animals from becoming extinct in Africa.
Courtland Parfet and his late wife Claude arrived in Kenya in the 1950's, with Courtland, a wealthy mine magnate, participating for many years in hunting expeditions. In the 1960's, at Claude's urging, he realized that the rhinos were being eliminated from their natural habitat. Together they built the giant Solio Ranch in the shadow of Mount Kenya and surrounded it with electrified fencing over a distance of 53 kilometers. Endangered animals - white and black rhinos, giraffes, zebras, cheetahs and others are protected from poachers who are the greatest threat to the survival of these species. The farm was a full-time project for Claude who became a renowned wildlife photographer. Beginning with only about 20 rhinos, the farm has seen the population multiply exponentially and provide breeding stock for Kenya's national parks.
The destruction of animal species for their prized horns or skins is a multi-million dollar illegal business that is flourishing despite international bans on the activity. The black rhinos are hunted for their horns, which are coveted in Arabic societies for carving and in Asian societies for medicinal qualities. The unreserved slaughter of the black rhino reduced populations from 20,000 to a mere 300 by 1985, making the conservation efforts of the Parfets even more important.
The film shows the rhinos in their natural setting within the ranch and clearly explains their habits. The pace of the narration is measured, and the explanations adequate for any child or adult to become informed about the rhino. The film deals with every aspect of the issue of wildlife conservation, including the criticism of Parfet's practice of fencing in the animals. The shots of the magnificent animals on the beautiful grasslands of Kenya are accompanied by African music.
This video has great educational value and will be useful in classrooms where students are studying endangered animals and animal habitats.
Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian at Niakwa Place School in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.