Documentaries

Karl created or has been involved in a number of startling and revealing video documentaries. Most can be viewed either on his YouTube channel or on Vimeo by clicking on the documentary title.

If you are interested in using any of these, or parts thereof, or if you have other related needs, please contact us with your needs, for acquiring or using these videos either in part or in their entirety, or any questions.  Stay tuned as the latest publicly available documentaries are added.  

The Hanoi Connection – The Rhino Horn Mafia

The world is slowly waking up to the high levels of rhino poaching taking place across Africa and South East Asia. This film reports on the trade in rhino horn, from poaching on the plains of Africa to investigating the size of the market for rhino horn in South East Asia with surprising results. This film demonstrates how ineffective creating a legal market in horn may be in solving this illegal trade. Karl confronts one of the major players in smuggling the horn and uncovers his connections to government. The film questions the efforts by the Laotian and Vietnamese governments in trying to combat this illegal trade. (2013)

Rhino Files

Karl co-produced this video and the accompanying terrible story with Carte Blanche; they investigate an ingenious collaboration between Thai smugglers and South African hunters. In 2010 333 rhinos – nearly one a day – were killed by poachers.  Conservationists think that this figure may have doubled in 2011.  There seem no limits to the extent to which rhino horn smugglers will go to get what they want. Vietnamese smuggling syndicates have long engaged in so-called “legal” rhino hunts on South African game farms. Now details of a Thai network have emerged. And the supposed hunters are alleged to be petite and glamorous Thai sex workers and escorts, who can barely lift a rifle, let alone bring down a 3 000 kilogram rhino. (2011)

The Bangui Connection

Elephant poaching for ivory has been going on for decades.  In the Central African region however elephants are also hunted for their meat.  In remote parts of the Congo and the Central African Republic the returns from smoked elephant meat are often higher then what hunters get from middle men for the ivory.  The result being that curtailing the trade in ivory would not solve the problem of elephant poaching in these regions. The question arises: would the elephant poaching continue if there was a way to get the ivory component of the trade under control? (2008)

The Mong La Connection

Southeast Asia and especially the more affluent segments of society in China and Vietnam have become the major consumers of wildlife products, being sold as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  Mong La is a small enclave at the China-Myanmar border.  The region was given autonomy at the time the Central authority in Yangon decided it was easier to do that than to constantly fight the various tribal groups in the north of the country.  An ex-drug lord took over the government and today Mong La is much more part of China than Myanmar; what God and laws forbids in China is practiced just a short walk across the border.  Gambling is the big money maker, prostitution is very visible, the drug trade is still very active and of course the wildlife trade is out of control, not only in terms of bush meat served in specialty restaurants, but also a lot of traditional Chinese medicinal products and a large-scale bear bile farm.  In a region where human rights are routinely violated, Karl had to fight even harder for rights of animals; following his investigation, the CITES Secretariat asked China and Myanmar to officially respond. (2007)

Blood Timber I

Initiated by Karl Ammann, this documentary illustrates the aspects of elephant poaching and of the bushmeat trade in general in parts of Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, along with the related corruption and attempts at cover-ups by the authorities, including the jailing of a local investigator. (2004)


On The Trail of the Ape Traders

For the last few years China has been illegally smuggling baby chimpanzees and gorillas from their home in the Central and West African rainforest to China.  This documentary investigates this illegal trade in apes to China and tries to uncover who exactly is behind it. (2014)


Destination China

Another documentary initiated by Karl Ammann, about the illegal export of 150 chimpanzees and 10 gorillas from West and Central Africa to zoos and safari parks in China.  Despite concrete evidence of CITES permit falsification, no enforcement action is taken.  Follow-up investigations reveals that the CITES permit scam is widespread, involves numerous parties and regions, and is ongoing.


Elephant Poaching and Ivory Tracking

Elephant poaching and ivory trafficking were a key issue at the CITES COP in Bangkok. This footage includes exclusive footage illustrating Chinese buyers acquiring ivory items in Africa Laos and Vietnam to back up this material we compiled footage on poaching and trafficking of ivory (including across international borders), mostly in the Central African region, rounding out the story of the present demand and supply picture. (2013)

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The Gombe ConnectionAuditing the Jane Goodall Institute

When it comes to creating awareness of the problems affecting the natural world, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are often on the front line of trying to mitigate the impact of man activities.  They believe raising money is only possible by presenting ‘solutions’, ‘happy endings’ and at worst heroes fighting against almost impossible odds.  Often the end result is more ‘Feel Good Conservation’; just another band aid applied to a patient dying of terminal cancer.  Gombe National Park in Tanzania is one such example; the human population growth in the region is still 4.9 %, the chimpanzee population has been declining for decades, and there is not a single baboon left outside the park boundaries.  The question is:  Could the same resources spent elsewhere have a better impact on chimpanzee conservation?  Karl Ammann is taking a look behind the scenes of the renowned institute.  He claims many conservation organizations are today involved in “feel good conservation”: presenting success stories helpful with fundraising but often representing only the proverbial drop on a hot stone. (2009)

Ape Smuggling – Congo

A rare exposé of the illegal trade in endangered animals, shipped to order from Congo to American zoos. Conservationist Karl Amman followed one consignment of monkeys every stage of the way. It was described as; “the biggest shipment of primates that has ever come out of the Congo”. Of the 100 monkeys exported, 34 went to the United States. The zoos claim these monkeys were rescued from the bush meat trade but the paperwork suggests they were probably caught to order and illegally exported. (2007)

Ape Smuggling – Congo

A rare exposé of the illegal trade in endangered animals, shipped to order from Congo to American zoos. Conservationist Karl Amman followed one consignment of monkeys every stage of the way. It was described as; “the biggest shipment of primates that has ever come out of the Congo”. Of the 100 monkeys exported, 34 went to the United States. The zoos claim these monkeys were rescued from the bush meat trade but the paperwork suggests they were probably caught to order and illegally exported. (2007)

Blood Timber II

A documentary about the illegal poaching of endangered bushmeat in Congo and Cameroon, along the timber roads and rivers.  Initiated by Karl Ammann for BBC Earth Report, it documents the impact of industrial logging in Central Africa on the Baka people.  Featured is Joseph Melloh, a former poacher who now works with Karl to investigate existing poaching practices and educate the populace about alternatives. (2004)

Boten – Laos, Bear Bile Farm

Documentary about a Bear Bile Farm in Boten, Laos. (2009)


Forgotten Forests – CNN

The Bili ape research and conservation project was initiated by Karl Ammann in the mid 1990s.  The original objective was to try to solve the mystery of the Bili apes and the possibility of gorillas still surviving in the area.  After initial ground research finding interesting clues of new chimpanzee cultures and behaviour, it appeared that the chimpanzees in the area, as well as a wide range of other wildlife, were seriously impacted by the hunting pressure; trying to curtail the poaching became a priority issue over further field research in ape distribution and behaviour; the film is also an enquiry into the criteria that could be used to work with the local Azande communities. 


The Medan Connection

Fashion trends, by their very nature come and go. Reptile skins are in fashion. Where they come from and how they are produced is still largely a mystery. Even some of the main fashion houses like Gucci or LVMH do not have adequate control over their supply chain. The end result is the producing countries — especially Indonesia and Vietnam — get away with exporting large quotas with few acceptable control measures in place. The problems center not just around sustainability issues but also cruelty in the production process. The film shows what happens behind the scene and how ineffective international conventions like CITES can be when it comes to enforcement of the rules and regulations meant to govern this trade. (2011)

The Kinshasa Connection

When American zoos claimed that the new 34 primates from the Congo had been rescued from the bushmeat and pet trade, Karl Ammann looked into it. Karl shows conclusive evidence that while zoos often claim to be a Noah’s Ark, these imports from the wild to stock zoos that our children visit actually create a demand for apes that causes poaching.  This story takes us from the apes’ habitat to Kinshasa, through South Africa and the Netherlands and finally to the U.S. The Convention for the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is meant to control the commercial trade of listed and endangered species.  As this documentary shows, it doesn’t stop a range of players from bending the law, from the hunting grounds in the Democratic Republic of Congo forests to a wildlife exhibit at the San Diego Zoo.  Hundred thousands of dollars were spent to ‘save’ some 130 protected primates from the DRC, with the end result being more and new demand at the production end. (2008)

The Cairo Connection

In January 2005, a crate containing six baby chimpanzees and four monkeys was rescued from a flight from Cairo. The animals had been denied food and water for days and one soon died.  This launched Karl Ammann into a decade long investigation of a widespread ape trade network.  Scouring flight records, animal investigators linked the shipment to a notorious wildlife smuggler family operating from the Central African region into the Middle East.  The family and associates are believed to traffic an average of 40 chimpanzees a year, and are responsible for hundreds of orphaned chimpanzees and dozens of gorillas trafficked along this route.  Despite a wide range of evidence being available, the Egyptian authorities never prosecuted the individuals in question, or their well-connected buyers.  Private wildlife collections in the Middle East are one of the main sources of demand for endangered wildlife. (2007)

The Ghosts of Lomako

Journey into the heart of the Democratic Republic of Congo with primatologist Jef Dupain, conservation maverick Karl Ammann and Canadian bioethicist Kerry Bowman, as they track the mysterious and endangered bonobo apes.  Civil war broke out in 1997 in Zaire, as Congo was then known. The Lomako forest, home to the bonobos, was cut off from the outside world. Dupain gathers a team to return to the forest, where he was forced to flee years ago.  The film examines the paradox of a mission to save the apes from extinction in a country facing annihilation itself.  The Jules Verne Film Festival awarded the Jury Special Award to The Ghosts of Lomako. (2005)

See No Evil

This film is about establishing the role of a German logging company in the bushmeat trade, especially in the hunting of bonobos.  In various written exchanges, the logger in question stated there was no problem with bushmeat in their K7 concession; the film documents otherwise.  The team entered the logging area through a ‘back door’ rather than seeking official access. (1999)


On Tiger Bones

Tells how the illegal trade in tigers affects our lions.  Canned lion hunting is only part of the challenge facing big cats worldwide.  In south-east Asia tiger parts are used for everything from food and balms to trinkets.  Carte Blanche finds out how the illegal trade in tigers affects our lions. 


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