Best cult-conservation documentaries outta’ 2015-2016

As we approach the end of 2016, let us have some time to reflect on some of the most brilliant, awe-inspiring and dam right visually eclectic cult-conservation films, that have made it to our screens over the past two years. I won’t go into too much detail, and anyway the premise is often the same – humans, yuk! too many of them; climate – is warming up FOR REAL though; nature – has had enough of it.

I think it is easy to feel deterred in the conservation field when you are starting out due to the modern job market, the fierce competition and the persistent notion of ‘not having enough experience’ making you feel smaller and smaller – but I’m telling you now, if you’re feeling like this today, whack one of these fantastic films on, and I 100% guarantee you will feel motivated to stay in the field of conservation, feel like you are doing the right thing with your life and want to get involved in any way you can. So without further ado, I give you…


So to begin us off, if you haven’t seen this one and you’re a fan of Romeo & Juliet Baz Luhrmann’s version, then you’re in for a real treat – this is a Leonardo DiCaprio’s production based on climate change asking what does this actually mean for a) humans on tiny islands in the South Pacific b) what are politicians gonna’ do about it c) who’s responsibility is it. It’s visually dynamic and showcases even when you’re a super famous movie star, offsetting your carbon emissions might just be possible, if you create an impressive film like this, that reaches millions and changes people’s daily behaviours. Watch this on YouTube.



This film conveys a brilliant marine conservation success story of how a range of different marine wildlife advocates came together to address the issue of illegal wildlife trade. Plus, there’s a super-rich guy in it that has a background in producing huge elaborate film projections onto buildings, and in a rebellious manner manages to shut down a restaurant containing illegally sourced seafood, after streaming a projection for hours on end outside the restaurant without sleep. I would watch a film that was solely about him if I’m quite honest. We need more than just Greenpeace and the Anti-fracking movement to be the environmentalists of our lifetime! This is a real fuzzy feeling film, so get ready for some real optimism filling your heart. Watch this on YouTube.


I was lucky enough to attend the premier of this film at Wildscreen, an Event run in Bristol every year, and the Director of Terra Mater actually gave a speech at the end of the screening and was in tears by the end of the first round of questions. The African elephant is disappearing at a rate of 1 every 15 minutes due to pressure from poaching across its range for its valuable ivory assets. This documentary has you on your seat the whole way through with investigative journalists going undercover, making pseudo deals to make arrests of wanted wildlife traffic criminals. It takes you on a journey from how the elephants are protected by militant trained, anti-poaching and K9 units, to the end users predominantly across Asia. This documentary has been well thought out and is sincerely moving. You can watch this on Netflix. NB. DiCaprio also executively produced this one.


India’s wandering lions is a human-wildlife conflict success story, whereby the farmers and lions have learnt to coexist in a mutualistic relationship. The lions and farmers seemed to have created their own sort of functional ecosystem, in which the farmers use the lions for the removal of any unwanted antelope crop-raiders. The film shows farmers sitting beside a pride of lions in harmony, after the pride is full after consuming crop-raiding antelope. The farmers seem happy, using a whistling technique to attract the lions to their farmland which contain the crop-raiders. Now if only we can implement this somehow throughout the rest of the world… This one isn’t available on YouTube but is available to buy at


This film takes you on the journey of Maya and her son Kip within a group of toque macaques living in the jungles of Sri Lanka. One of the less well known macaque species, but still prominent with regards to tourism. Undoubtedly this film is targeted at a younger-age group than me (I’m 23), but who doesn’t enjoy a good Disney? And especially one based on primates (I’m a primatologist). So give it a go, for a light-hearted but visually pleasing film. This one you can buy here at

So with those all promoted, now for some good right procrastination from your assignments, paperwork or anything else you ‘should’ be doing. Give yourself a few hours break in order to get motivated by the latest cult-conservation documentaries!

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