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‘Catching Giants’ raises awareness of giraffe’s silent march to extinction


The heart-stopping documentary Catching Giants will be screened by the Fort Myers Film Festival in the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 25. The film follows the world’s preeminent giraffe researcher, Dr. Francois Deacon, as he embarks on the most ambitious project of his career and perhaps the most ambitious project in giraffe conservation to date.

The setting is the rugged and untamed plains of South Africa’s Rooipoort Nature Reserve, and the circumstance that precipitated Dr. Deacon’s quest was the classification of the giraffe species in 2016 as “Vulnerable to Extinction” on the IUCN Red List after research revealed that their population has decreased since 1999 by 40% from 140,000 to just 70,000 in 2014. Now, Dr. Deacon is setting out to capture and GPS collar more than 20 giraffes, a project that will enable him to study these giraffes’ every move and behavior for the next year.

Joining him on this wild expedition are renowned researchers from various parts of the world, each with a unique scientific background. The team’s mission is to address various scientific questions about giraffe that have yet to be answered. Each biologist, with their own goals and objectives, will assay to solve one piece of the puzzle of information needed to save giraffes from extinction.

This tenacious team will risk their lives as they venture into the enchanted environment of the Northern Cape to study and protect a species that the world seems to have forgotten. Saving Giants is a dangerous endeavor. Despite their size, giraffes are easily injured, with a broken leg typically fatal. In addition, a well-placed kick from one of these large and powerful creatures can cause serious injury if not death. So the challenges, from logistics to maintaining the safety of the wildlife and research team, are numerous and consequential.

But the rewards justify the risks. The true value of Saving Giants lies in the fact that the results of the project and the discoveries made by Dr. Deacon and his world-renowned team of biologists can be applied by wildlife managers and conservationists to giraffe populations throughout the continent of Africa. For Francois and his family, saving Africa’s giraffes is not just a passion, but their vocation.

Catching Giants took roughly six weeks to shoot. Over that span, Davison and his team captured 17 hours of interview footage and hours more of action footage. They utilized eight cameras for each take-down. Since each collar took roughly 30 minutes from beginning to end, they produced so much footage that it took two full months to edit.

The documentary is an Official Selection of nearly 20 film festivals and was named Best Feature Film by the 2018 Wildlife Conservation Film Festival,, Best Feature Documentary by the 2019 Changing Face International Film Festival and an award-winner by WorldFest-Houston International & Video Festival 2019.

October 17, 2020.

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