Birkbeck Cinema, 25th  May 2018: 6:00 – 9:00
Free entrance, book your tickets here.

Ndumu: the story of crocodile survival in South Africa
Written and directed by Edgar Bold
Produced by Raymond Hancock
Image copyright of Dr. Simon Pooley

Television came late to South Africa (1976), and in preparation for its launch, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) commissioned a wildlife documentary on crocodile conservation in South Africa. Tony (A.C.) Pooley (the speaker’s father) had recently been selected as a founder member of the IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group, and his research facility in Zululand was attracting national media attention.

For decades, wildlife documentaries followed the one-hour wildlife special format, either with voice-overs only or fronted by charismatic European presenters, with little sign of local communities. When the film makers approached Tony about a documentary featuring his work, however, he refused. His counter-proposal was to do a film about humans and crocodiles, including material on crocodile biology and conservation, located in the rural areas of northern Zululand both in and around protected areas. The filmmakers enthusiastically adopted this brief, using only locals as actors and extras in the film, which aims to dramatize the trials and tribulations of living with, and conserving crocodiles.

The film is unusual in providing social and ecological perspectives on the conservation of these potentially dangerous animals. It is revealing on aspects of the social context of 1970s South Africa, and provides rare footage of local lives and places in this remote region at the time. Pooley also provides an unusual perspective on the usually maligned Nile crocodile. Screened in 1976, the film is now virtually impossible to access. Tony’s son Simon, Lambert Lecturer in Environment (Applied Herpetology) in Birkbeck’s Geography Department, will introduce the film, which will then be screened in full (56 minutes).

This will be followed by a discussion / Q&A session with the audience.