A Scottish filmmaker was forced to drink muddy puddle water to survive after being left stranded in the African wilderness for three days while shooting scenes for a new documentary about wild elephants.
It was just one of the unexpected adventures that befell Glasgow-born Robbie Moffat during months of filming in Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, South Africa and Zimbabwe as he and his crew tracked down subjects for his new film.
The saga unfolded on a makeshift road through a national park in Botswana, where Moffat’s vehicle became bogged down in wet ground. Running out of supplies, he eventually gave up waiting for help and decided to trek 35 miles to the closest ranger station.
In another ordeal , Moffat was robbed in Bulawayo, losing 12 days of valuable footage.
But the experiences have not deterred the 64-year-old from his mission. He is planning to return to the continent in a few weeks’ time to complete the shoot, which aims to highlight the plight of the threatened elephants.
Moffat said: “Elephants are beautiful creatures. I want to tell their story, and how they have fallen from grace and found themselves hunted, displaced and unable to fight back for their own survival. I want to show what we are doing to them and that our oppression of elephants is a crime that ranks with genocide.
“But most of all I want to record, while we still can, the sight and sound of these last remaining giants before they are gone forever from our world.”
There were thought to be around 20 million elephants living across Africa when colonisation began. According to the Great Elephant Census, carried out in 2016, only 352,271 savanna elephants remain in Africa, spread across 18 countries – a drop of 30 per cent in just seven years.
Zimbabwe and Botswana have become the stronghold for more than half of Africa’s elephant population, which has fled to escape wars, ivory poachers, droughts and loss of territory in neighbouring countries.
Moffat’s crew have been collaborating with conservation organisations such as Elephants for Africa, the African Wildlife Foundation, Game Rangers International and Save the Elephants to make the film.
Now Moffat and co-producer Mairi Sutherland, who run Paisley-based production company Palm Tree Universal, are looking for backers to fund the second stage of filming, which will take the crew to Kenya, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi and Uganda – and perhaps Congo, Chad and Mali if the budget allows for the extra safety measures that would be required.
They have launched a crowd-funding campaign, with a target of reaching £150,000 by the end of June to match backing which has already pledged.
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