NOW ON EARTH YOUTH ADVENTURE GRANT RECIPIENTS 2023
I’m A Rhino: Horns, Humour and a Hella Good Time
“I’M A RHINO” follows Elliot’s journey from Bristol to South Africa, city to savannah in a furry grey rhino suit. He schools Saturday parkgoers on rhinocerousness; attempts advocacy through stand-up and speed dating; meets and mucks out for eight young orphaned rhino calves; takes to the sky in an ultralight to sweep for poachers; trains with and is tracked down by anti-poaching hounds; and joins a score of precocious ten-year-olds for a two-day rhino crash course.
Making I’M A RHINO for me was a very personal adventure. See, I spent the first 15 years of my life an inveterate introvert, barely speaking. Then I started a conservation charity literally from my mother’s basement and in a couple of months, it’d manifested itself across 100 countries. I became an unlikely environmental envoy, giving my first speech at TEDx in Sydney, appearing on radio and TV, hosting podcasts and news columns. In six months I’d burnt out severely.
The five years since I’ve spent trying to get out of my head and back to my roots as a matchmaker between humans and nature: trying to get people to embrace animals as their equals. And so in the midst of a wildlife filmmaking degree, a Halloween party epiphany struck me with the crazy notion that sufficiently silly dress-up might just break the ‘fed up with the world ending’ wall that keeps audiences at arm’s length from most environmental storytelling. A couple of months and many a YouTube stitching tutorial later, I’d made myself something vaguely resembling a rhino costume from scraps. And the rest is history. I forced myself to face my fears presenting this short comedy documentary for kids, journeying into the heart of South Africa’s rhino conservation landscape with fellow filmmaker Sara Pipernos. I made a list of things I’d never done that I knew would terrify me: stand-up, dating, door-to-door, being chased by hounds, flying in a doorless aircraft and ran headfirst towards them as fast as my padded grey legs would carry me. And I confronted the callous gore of rhino poaching’s reality, the images of which will never leave me.
The five years since I’ve spent trying to get out of my head and back to my roots as a matchmaker between humans and nature.
The film, the adventure started with my realization that there were fewer rhinos left in the world than students at my university. But seeing why, what it meant- that each day one of them had its face hacked off- almost broke me. And I hope that this film captures both the joyous dedication of Africa’s rhino guardians, the future generations I met, and the horror of what they’re fighting. Because some day soon, there may not be any rhinos left.
Please note: contains graphic image of an injured rhino.
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