Niassa Elephant Defenders

Poachers have decimated the elephant population in Mozambique’s Niassa National Reserve, but Niassa’s rangers are determined to save them from extinction. The rangers tell their story of what it takes to protect the elephants—from facing off with poachers armed with weapons of war, to witnessing poachers' increasingly violent tactics. What carries them through long, dangerous months covering vast amounts of terrain is courage, a belief in the service, encouragement from their family, a love for the animals, and a desire to protect the country’s resources and safeguard the wildlife for their children and grandchildren.

  • Raul Gallego Abellan
    Pani; Women, Drugs and Kathmandu / Nam Jai documentary / Good Luck For You Everyday / The Best And Worst Years of My Life / Marine’s Diary / Wardak Soldiers / Foot Patrol
  • Raul Gallego Abellan
    Pani; Women, Drugs and Kathmandu / Nam Jai documentary / Good Luck For You Everyday / The Best And Worst Years of My Life / Marine’s Diary / Wardak Soldiers / Foot Patrol
  • Hasita Bhammar
  • Sunny Kaplan
  • Claudia Sobrevila
  • Sebastiao Saize
    Key Cast
  • Antonio Raitone
    Key Cast
  • Alifa Amade
    Key Cast
  • José Sitoe
    Key Cast
  • Vasco Assane
    Key Cast
  • Castro Ntina
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    13 minutes 25 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    November 13, 2018
  • Production Budget:
    20,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • YouTube Premier: Niassa Elephant Defenders
    Washington, DC
    United States
    November 16, 2018
    Online Premier
Distribution Information
  • Global Wildlife Program, the World Bank via Internet
    Country: United States
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Raul Gallego Abellan

Raul Gallego Abellan is a multiple award-winning video journalist and filmmaker. He is a pioneer in producing innovative and compelling online news and documentaries and experimenting with new ways of storytelling. Raul's work with TVE, TV3, the Associated Press Television News and Channel 4 News UK has led him around the world between war zones, sites of natural disasters and social unrest to create inspirational and moving character-driven stories. He is now working as an independent freelance video journalist and filmmaker with the Washington Post, The Intercept, South China Morning Post, and others. He also works as a video journalist with the Global Environment Facility-funded, World Bank-led Global Wildlife Program documenting stories about wildlife conservation and sustainable development through combatting illicit trafficking in wildlife.

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Director Statement

"I have been covering wars and conflicts since 2000, from being embedded with the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan to documenting the Libyan revolution, among others. But the war to protect elephants and wildlife involves another type of battleground. In this conflict, you can feel the danger and the tension, but you can’t predict an encounter with poachers or when the situation can explode. The enemy can even be on your side—embedded within law enforcement, government, ports authorities, local villagers, etc. Despite being a paramilitary force, rangers are rarely well equipped enough in armed confrontations with poachers carrying war weapons stocked with ammunition. And, they are in a race against time. As Niassa’s chief ranger José Sitoe explained, if the current threat to the elephants continues, they are in danger of extinction."