Tom Hardy’s Poaching Wars

Thu Aug 22, 9-10pm, ITV

Unlike ‘Caroline Quentin’s Dung Beetle Adventure’ and the like, this two-parter is more than a celebrity-fronted jolly to warmer climes and exotic fauna. To his credit, Hardy – even if he does get to mess around with some elephants – is here using his rapidly expanding profile to investigate the losing battle against rhino and elephant poaching in Africa.

He meets private anti-poaching militias, gamekeepers and journalists, who paint the same grim picture: well-meant but haphazardly directed efforts to counteract the ivory and rhino horn trades are largely locally funded and policed, even as their proceeds are used to bankroll global crime and even terrorism. Solutions are, perhaps unsurprisingly, thin on the ground, but Hardy asks sensible questions and gets honest answers, however unpalatable they may be.

Comments

3 comments
Fiona Hewlett
Fiona Hewlett

Normally, I would run a mile from any TV show entitled “No-mark Celeb’s Romford Market Adventure” or suchlike, because it gets me to wondering whether the subject matter just isn’t powerful enough to stand on it’s own merits without the crutch of a celeb presence. It makes me feel as if I’m being treated like an idiot, only willing to tune in if I can actually see a celeb name in the title. Given my personal feelings on the subject, I found the prospect of Poaching Wars unsettlingly intriguing, and not just because Mr Hardy appears several times on our man wall at work. I mean, here’s a guy who has played a dizzying variety of acclaimed characters on-screen, yet here he is, in Africa for ITV, speaking so eloquently about the lucrative yet hugely dangerous world of poaching. Like a fool, I found myself getting sucked the hell in…..

Fiona Hewlett
Fiona Hewlett

Normally I run a mile from any TV show entitled “No-mark Celeb’s Romford Market Adventures” or suchlike, because I always wonder whether perhaps the subject matter just isn’t powerful enough to stand on it’s own merits without the crutch of a celeb presence. I feel as if I’m being treated like an idiot, apparently only willing to tune in if I can actually see a celeb name in the title. Given my personal feelings on the subject, I found the prospect of Poaching Wars with Tom Hardy unsettlingly intriguing, and not just because Mr Hardy appears several times on our Man Wall at work. Here’s a guy who has played a dizzying variety of critically acclaimed characters on screen, yet here he is, in Africa for ITV, speaking so eloquently about the horrific extent of poaching’s lucrative and dangerous world. And like a fool, I found myself sucked the hell in….

Dominique
Dominique

Tom Hardy reiterates his heartthrob status in this huskily narrated documentary on rhino and elephant poaching in South Africa. With enthusiasm, pragmatism and playful alacrity he speaks to the farmers, journalists and anti-poaching militia, whilst also making a conscientious effort to understand why people might find ivory trading so hard to resist in the first place. It is a balanced and informative take on a difficult subject, but offers few solutions and lacks any real gravitas. You end up feeling like it is not really getting it’s hands dirty enough. That said, there are certainly harrowing moments (one scene with a dying, whimpering rhino will stay with you for quite a while after watching). On the whole, it is a great effort and worth a watch - even if it is just to see Hardy swagger about, cuddling puppies, falling out of hammocks and stripping to his underwear – which will probably be enough to swing it for most people.