Gambling on Extinction

A film by Jakob Kneser

Gambling on Extinction is a powerful documentary that takes you from the killing fields in Kenya and South Africa to the trading hubs of Vietnam and China with undercover investigators, rangers, ex-poachers, conservationists and buyers. We expose the lethal mechanisms of the global trade, the terrorist connection, explain what generates demand, and what can be done to stop the slaughter.

This is a story is about greed and a merciless battle over a limited resource: Wild elephants and rhinos. It is in fact the dark side of globalization: Ivory and rhino horn have become lucrative commodities. It is now a 20 billion dollar a year business, the most lucrative after drugs and weapons and has been taken over by powerful, connected, heavily armed international syndicates.

A century ago there were 10 million elephants all over Africa. Today there about 450,000 elephants left in the wild. If poaching continues at this pace, elephants could be gone from the wild in less than 15 years. A similar scenario is playing out in South Africa’s rhino population. Until 2007 fewer than 50 rhinos a year were poached. Last year, over 1000 were poached.


2015 – 52 min.

Awards: Special Prize of Prince Rainier III at the International Television Festival in Monaco, German Environmental Film Award, German Wildlife Film Award, Wild & Scenic Film Festival, Environmental Film Festival Washington D.C., Winner Planeta.Doc, Winner IFF Ekotopfilm Bratislava, Wildlife Film Festival Rotterdam, Green Screen Film Festival, NaturVision Ludwigsburg, Darsser Naturfilmfestival, Life Sciences Film Festival Prague, Filmambiente and Planeta Doc Brasil, TEFF Tasmanian Eco Film Festival Australia, Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival, Dominican Republic Environmental Film Festival, Winner Matsalu Nature Film Festival, Cape Town Eco Film Festival, Ekofilm Brno, SunChild International Environmental Film Festival, Masuku Film Festival Gabon, Vaasa Wildlife Finnland – Best Environmental Conservation Film

Gambling on Extinction is a treaty co-production between a&o buero filmproduktion gmbh in Germany and Real to Reel in Canada. It was produced in association with ZDF/ARTE (Germany/France), Animal Planet (Canada), Bell Media CTV & W5 (Canada), Radio Canada (Canada), SBS (Australia), SVT (Sweden), ORF (Austria), DR (Denmark), NRK (Norway), YLE (Finland), VRT (Belgium), TG4 (Ireland), TVP (Poland), Çeská televize (Czech Republic), TVI (Portugal), Yes Doku (Israel). We thank our funders: Rogers Cable Network Fund Canada, MEDIA, Film Fund Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, Canadian Film and Video Production Tax Credit and the Ontario Media Development Corporation.