Review: Killing the Shepherd documentary (2021)

Killing the Shepherd is a community, environmental & human right documentary from director Thomas Opre made on behalf of Shepherds Of Wildlife Society

A remote community in Africa, led by a woman chief, attempts to break the stranglehold of poverty by waging a war on wildlife poaching. For decades illegal wildlife poaching by both subsistence and bush meat gangs has led to the government declaring this community’s homeland “depleted” of wildlife.

The chief finds help in the form of a safari operator and they work together to bring stability to the community. But all was not well. Disease, food stability, and rampant alcoholism hamper basic needs like health care and education. Even young girls, just after reaching puberty, are sold by their parents as child brides in order to feed their family for one year. Dark forces including South African land speculators, criminal poaching gangs, and her own people conspire against the chief. Even elements of the modern world work against the chief’s wishes.

Will the chief and her community see success?

The film provides an incredibly thought-provoking and balanced look at the involvement of the safari operator and the native community both good and bad and it provides a great insight into their culture and wider questions of how nature and man can co-exist and how the locals over-using their natural resources can be harmful to them in the long term. The film-makers do not shy away from the fact co-operation between the natives and westerners is an uneasy alliance but can ultimately be to the benefit of all and explores a number of key issues along the way and following the lives and stories of individuals affected.africa_zambia-10780

The film itself features visually stunning cinematography with incredible aerial photography, sweeping score and a wonderfully creative main title animation by producer Matt Hartle (Baked Studios). Opre takes a journeyman approach, single-handily tackling cinematography, editing and narration himself.


Watch the film and find out more at

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