No issue is really ever simply black and white. There are usually layers of complexity that lie beneath the surface of every hot take.
The documentary “Killing the Shepherd” is a great example of looking at a subject that is repulsive at first glance, but then makes a compelling argument for its cause.
A documentary about a hunting safari company in Africa improving the quality of life for local animals and residents conjures up the feeling that you are watching pure propaganda.
The movie paints a picture of rural communities struggling with deep poverty and that most of the poaching of the wildlife is done by locals either for meat or to make money by selling the meat in town.
The safari company hires the locals as game wardens and tries to improve the poverty level of the area to limit the poaching of the big game in the bush.
The animal population starts to rise and the safari company only allows its clients to kill a certain quota of animals in order to ensure a healthy population.
The documentary is clearly slanted towards the perspective of the safari company and the biggest strike against the film is that the improvements the company claims to make in the lives of the locals isn’t backed up with a ton of evidence.
And while the logic holds that it is in the best interest of the safari company to ensure a healthy animal population is always present for their clients to hunt, wouldn’t that same logic hold for a safari company where people just come to look at the animals and take pictures? That would seem to be even better for the animals instead of catering to rich white dudes who want to murder an impala just to have its head mounted at their lake house.
And there is the complexity that lies at the heart of “Killing the Shepard.” What the documentary does make clear is that simply passing a law making it illegal to kill animals in Africa and then walking away without addressing the crippling poverty of the humans who share the land with the animals does not produce good results for man or beast.
“Killing the Shepard” is a problematic documentary, but it does shed light on an issue that is much more complicated than simply saving the animals.
“Killing the Shepard” is not rated and has some disturbing images and adult themes.