A Virtual Reality Farewell to the Last White Rhinos

A bittersweet documentary project to celebrate World Rhino Day.

via Kickstarter

If you have never seen a northern white rhinoceros in the flesh, you may not get a chance. After decades of intense poaching, the animals are now critically endangered. In fact, there are just four northern white rhinos left in the world—one in the San Diego Zoo, three others in Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

Which is why filmmakers Eline Jongsma and Kel O’Neill feel they are racing against time. They want their documentary, called The Ark, to capture all the remaining rhinos in a very particular way: using virtual reality (VR) film equipment. The technology, which “inserts” viewers into scenes using 360 degree shots viewed through a specialized headset, will give even those thousands of miles away from the last rhinos the impression of being in their presence.

‘There’s this lonesome, palatable feeling of tragedy around a species that is that endangered,” O’Neill told Hyperallergic. “VR is a very different approach. It’s similar to immersive theater. You have the capacity to give people the ability to create their own frames. It’s powerful.”

The filmmakers have already captured San Diego’s remaining (and aging) rhino on the specialized film. They also documented the efforts of San Diego’s Frozen Zoo project, which aims to save the species through preservation of the northern white rhinoceros’ genetic material.

A Kickstarter drive to support continuing filming of The Ark has already reached its $21,500 goal, though Jongsma, O’Neill, and their team continue to raise money for the film. The filmmakers say they will use the funds to travel to the remaining Kenya rhinos, and to document the work of the park rangers who protect them.

“Among the rhinos [the rangers] protect is Sudan, the last male northern white rhino,” the filmmakers write, “and the last chance for the species to reproduce through natural methods.”

(Cover image via wikimedia commons user Sheep81)


The global climate change strikes on Friday are said to have been the largest protest for climate change in history. An estimated four million people participated in 2,500 events across 163 countries on all seven continents. That included an estimated 300,000 Australians, but a total of zero were in Hyde Park in Sydney, despite a viral photo that claims otherwise.

Australian Youth Coal Coalition, a pro-coal Facebook page, posted a photo showing trash strewn across a park after what appears to have been a large event. "Look at the mess today's climate protesters left behind in beautiful Hyde Park," the photo was captioned. "So much plastic. So much landfill. So sad." The only problem is, the photo wasn't taken after a climate change protest. It wasn't even taken in Australia.

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via GOOD / YouTube

Last Friday, millions of people in 150 countries across the globe took to the streets to urge world leaders to enact dramatic solutions to combat climate change.

The Climate Strike was inspired, in part, by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden who has captured worldwide attention for her tireless work to hold lawmakers responsible for the climate crisis.

The strike gave people across the planet the opportunity to make their voices heard before the U.N. General Assembly Climate Summit in New York City on Monday.

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Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

As world leaders meet to discuss new ways to tackle climate change at the U.N. Climate Action Summit, they might miss one very big part of healing nature – nature. In a new short film, youth climate change activist Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot, a writer for the Guardian, talked about how we need to use nature as a solution to climate change.

There's a huge push to curb emissions, but it's not the be all end all of handling climate change; we also need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. While we don't have technology to do that for us, there is another solution. "There is a magic machine that sucks carbon out of the air, costs very little, and builds itself. It's called a tree," Monboit says in the film. Researchers found that we could get rid of two-thirds of the carbon dioxide that we've emitted during the industrial era just by growing trees. That amounts to 205 billion tons of carbon. Right now, deforestation of tropical forests is responsible for 20% of current greenhouse emissions.

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Climate Action Tracker

In 2016, 196 countries signed the Paris Agreement, pledging to combat climate change by taking action to curb the increase in global temperatures. The Paris Agreement requires countries to report on their emissions and what steps they're taking to implement those plans. Now that the countries are coming together again for the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City, it's worth taking a look at what kind of progress they've made.

The Climate Action Trackerkeeps tabs on what each country is doing to limit warming, and if they're meeting their self-set goals. Countries are graded based on whether or not their actions would help limit warming to 1.5 degrees C.

According to a recent article from National Geographic, The Gambia, Morocco, and India are at the head of the class. "Even though carbon emissions in The Gambia, Morocco, and India are expected to rise, they'll fall short of exceeding the 1.5-degree Celsius limit," the article reads. Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States, on the other hand, get a big fat F. "Projected emissions in Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United States are far greater than what it would take to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius."

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Screenshot via (left) Wikimedia Commons (right)

Greta Thunberg has been dubbed the "Joan of Arc of climate change" for good reason. The 16-year-old activist embodies the courage and conviction of the unlikely underdog heroine, as well as the seemingly innate ability to lead a movement.

Thunberg has dedicated her young life to waking up the world to the climate crisis we face and cutting the crap that gets in the way of fixing it. Her speeches are a unique blend of calm rationality and no-holds-barred bluntness. She speaks truth to power, dispassionately and unflinchingly, and it is glorious.

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