National Geographic: The Protectors


Over 30,000 African elephants die each year at the hands of poachers, and despite the global outcry over the killings, trafficking continues at a more elevated rate than ever. In 2016, it was widely estimated that elephants were being killed at a rate faster than they were being born.

From National Geographic Documentary Films, The Protectors: Walk in the Ranger’s Shoes is a virtual reality documentary short by Academy Award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow and VR creator Imraan Ismail. The piece chronicles a day in the life of a ranger in Democratic Republic of Congo’s Garamba National Park, managed by the conservation non-profit African Parks. Highlighting the African elephants’ race toward extinction at the hands of ivory-seeking poachers, the eight-minute film interviews a group of Garamba National Park rangers as they discuss the trials of their profession, whack their way through 10-foot grasses and cruise by jeep and boat in service of these noble creatures.

The Protectors: Walk in the Ranger’s Shoes premiered at Tribeca Film Festival’s Virtual Arcade on April 20th, 2017. Filmmakers Kathryn Bigelow and Imraan Ismail hosted a panel at Tribeca on Earth Day where they were joined by former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who advocated for the film and its call to action to support these rangers. Before the panel commenced, the 250 person audience donned virtual reality headsets at their seats and experienced — in 360 degrees — what it’s like to be one of the 200 rangers `fighting well-armed poachers in the park the size of Delaware.

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