Louise Hogarth, who for the past two decades she has been directing and producing extraordinary documentaries that highlight cutting-edge controversial social issues, has turned her attention to the elephants to highlight their struggles in her new documentary, Elephant Refugees.
An unflinching look at the elephant migration crisis in Botswana, Elephant Refugees documents the tragic and complex realities of unintended consequences.
“My relationship with elephants began during the making of Angels In The Dust. The orphanage, featured in my documentary, was located near the Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa. I learned orphaned baby elephants had been re-located to the park after their parents were killed in a cull – killing adult elephants to control herd size tears apart the complex social fabric of elephant culture. Without their role models to teach good elephant behavior the young elephants becoming aggressive attacking rhinos and numerous tourist vehicles resulting in 40 dead rhinos and one human fatality. The story of the orphaned children and elephants provided a dramatic parallel illustrating the need for love and structure for both children and elephants.
Elephants are extraordinarily emotional beings. They are conscious of themselves as individuals. They feel joy, experience sadness, pain, pleasure and grief. They cry real tears and exhibit beautiful qualities of compassion and protection. Elephants need increased understanding and tolerance from we humans. Through deepening our connection with them and opening our hearts to them, we may eventually be able to return to a peaceful co-existence with them. These are truly gentle giants who simply want to be respected, honored for who they are and left in peace.
One African elephant is killed every 15 minutes that equals 40,000 a year. Africa’s total estimated elephant population is less than 400,000. If the killing continues; elephants will be extinct in 10 years. Together, we can and must make an effort to save Africa’s elephants. I don’t want to live in a world without elephants.”
Check out our interview with Louise:
When Botswana banned elephant poaching in 2014, something incredible happened: the news of the safe haven spread among herds, prompting a mass elephant migration into Botswana from neighboring countries. Now, with nearly 60% of the world’s elephants residing in Botswana, the ecosystem is buckling under the pressure of supporting them. Climate change and unprecedented drought have created a water crisis for the masses of elephant refugees.
After a long and tiring journey in search of safety, many elephants end up at the Moller family’s bush lodge, Elephant Sands, in desperate need of water. From the frontlines of the climate crisis, the Moller family struggles to provide water to as many as 500 elephants a day. When the elephants don’t get what they need, they often break into the lodge bathrooms, turning on the faucets with their trunks and drinking out of the sinks and toilets. The Moller’s dedication to aiding the elephants is strong. But with dwindling resources, they can only do so much.
In late 2019 the unimaginable happened in Botswana. The new government overturned the hunting ban and once again Botswana’s elephants are on the auction block. In January 2020 Safari Club International auctioned, a 14-Day Elephant Hunt, in Botswana.
Check out this exclusive clip from the documentary!