Filmmaker EJ Horstman will be traveling with National Geographic to Spain and Portugal late this summer to track and attach cameras to Iberian wolves. The goal of this project is to spread awareness of the plight of these animals, and to encourage more strict protection measures for these keystone creatures. Wolves help keep ecosystems in check and maintain the health of the Earth. Working with several Spanish and Portuguese wolf advocacy groups, EJ and his team from Nat Geo will follow 2 wolves and use that footage and additional coverage to craft a short documentary. EJ received a small grant to help with the project, but needs your help to complete it!
Follow EJ on Twitter: @ejhorstman #savesignatus
In many parts of the world, wolves are looked at as dangerous beasts that need to be eradicated to keep people and livestock safe. But wolves are keystone species that keep the entire ecosystem in check. With effective management practices, wolves pose minimal threat to livestock, and even less of a threat to humans. On the border of Spain and Portugal, Iberian wolves are struggling to survive. In Portugal, the government totally protects the animals and values their role in holding ecosystems together. Across the border in Spain, wolves can be hunted and killed. And the wolves know no borders.
In northwest Spain, the Zamora Regional Authority holds online auctions every year for the chance to shoot a wild wolf point-blank. Weeks before the event, slaughterhouse waste is left near a hunting blind to acclimate wolves to the location.
I’ve studied and filmed wolves (https://vimeo.com/66467071) and learned about the plight of Canis lupus signatus, Iberian wolves. Starting last year, I reached out to two wolf advocacy groups, Lobo Marley (Spain) and Zoo Logical (Portugal) and started working out a plan to tell this story and create awareness with a documentary. Last fall in the Zamora online auction, Lobo Marley posed as a hunter and bid and won the lives of 2 wolves, creating a buzz through the country. Spain, unsurprisingly, would not allow our team to film, but the Portuguese government was pleased with the idea and asked us to help change the image of the Iberian wolf. We’ll be filming for 2 weeks at the end of August with the end goal being a documentary to be entered into film festivals and distributed widely. We want Spain and the world to see how important these creatures are, and how important it is to provide them protection.
I received a small grant from National Geographic for the project, enough to get myself and my team over to Portugal, but we need additional support to complete the project. Our biggest expense will be GPS collars for 2 wolves that we tranquilize and attach cameras to with a team of biologists and National Geographic’s Crittercam. Each collar costs about $3,000. These two wolves symbolize the two wolves won in the online auction by Lobo Marley. The collars will provide important movement pattern information on the wolves, showing that they indeed cross over country borders and need international protection. The additional $1,000 will be used for unexpected costs that can arise when working abroad. Any leftover money will be donated back to Lobo Marley and Zoo Logical, or used for film post-production costs.