“Don’t just stand by, do something,” says Gambling on Extinction director, Jakob Kneser


Director, Jakob Kneser

Nearly three years ago I was leafing through the pages of a magazine when an article struck me. It was about elephants being killed by poachers in Chad, a country in Central Africa.

Not one or two elephants hunted by locals for meat – but about dozens at a time, brutally slaughtered by well-organized gangs with automatic rifles. They first shoot the babies so that their mothers, delirious with grief, give up their protection. Then they shoot them as well. Often the elephants are still alive when the poachers hack off their tusks, leaving the bleeding and dying animals behind.

I was shocked and appalled. I wanted to know more, so I made some enquiries and spoke to animal conservationists. I discovered that these weren’t isolated cases but that poaching was escalating throughout Africa. And I learned that these highly organized criminal gangs not only attack elephants but other endangered species like rhinos and tigers as well. I couldn’t believe that this was happening right here, right now.

I feel that this is just not acceptable.

We as human beings can’t let a bunch of unscrupulous criminals destroy the beauty of our earth because of their unbridled greed.

Governments need to take action instead of treating wildlife crime as a minor offense. But most importantly people need to know what’s going on, especially those living in Asia.


Rangers tend to poached rhino. In 2014, 1,215 rhinos were illegally killed in South Africa.

Elephant ivory and rhino horn are popular status symbols among affluent Asians.

Rhino horn has now surpassed the value of gold.

There is a dangerous myth among consumers that tusks and horns simply fall out, like human teeth. Consumers are not aware of the brutality involved in the harvesting of elephant tusks and rhino horn. They are also being duped into believing that rhino horn and tiger wine are potent and hold medicinal qualities.

As a documentary filmmaker I always try to make films that I feel are relevant and important. This subject is especially close to my heart.

I really, deeply feel that this film simply had to be made.

If this slaughter continues there won’t be any more rhinos or elephants left in the wild. All these beautiful creatures will be gone in a few years from now. Can you imagine a world without these majestic animals? What an incredibly sad and empty place this would be.

I know we can make a difference if we manage to show the terrible slaughter that is going on right now, if we uncover who is pulling the strings in this brutal war on nature. Let’s not just stand at the sidelines and do nothing while ruthless criminals and thoughtless greedy people who just want a new trinket, a rug or some faux aphrodisiacs are ruining our planet.


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