St Albans student creating documentary about innovative solution to save endangered African Penguins

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 May 2018

Tom Parry

Tom Parry


A student filmmaker is creating a documentary about endangered penguins which will be screened to BBC professionals.

Tom ParryTom Parry

Park Street local Tom Parry needs £3,850 in funding to make his debut film, entitled A Place for Penguins.

Endangered African Penguin colonies have dropped by 60 per cent in less than fifteen years and scientists at the University of Cape Town are concerned the species could be wiped out in just eight years time.

The film will follow conservationists from BirdLife South Africa who are trying to save the species from extinction - with their Penguin Colony Project.

Christina Hagen and her team are trying to recolonise the traditionally island species inland, at the De Hoop Nature Reserve and Platenberg Bay.

In theory the penguins will relocate to these areas when they hear recorded bird calls and see other model penguins - tricking them into thinking a colony already exists.

Tom said: “Even though it sounds bonkers, these are genuine scientists - the most informed in their field - and they know how dire the situation is and they are doing their best.”

This relocation tactic has worked for other species, including endangered Kirtland’s warblers.

The 24-year-old said he has always loved both animals and filmmaking: “I think as well as being entertaining, wildlife documentaries can inform people about the natural world.

“It’s really helpful and it can be really effective at educating people.”

The 12-minute movie will be shown to industry professionals in November.

“Even though it is very sad, I don’t think about it in terms of doom and gloom, I want to make a film that lifts people up and inspires people.”

Tom is a zoology graduate from the University of Manchester: “This is my perfect career, combining my love of animals with science and visuals.”

He is studying a wildlife filmmaking masters at the University of West England. It is in partnership with the BBC’s Natural History Unit in Bristol.

The £3,850 is needed for Tom’s accommodation, equipment, and travel to South Africa in June.

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