Collaborative Model

They worked with the National Marine Mammal Foundation, Sea Shepherd, Earth League International, Malaika Pictures, and Museo de la Ballena. These relationships also informed their decision to elevate local fishermen and investigate the role of economic power dynamics.

Forming
partnerships was crucial in building capacity for the movement.

Throughout production, the team formed relationships with Mexico-based NGOs, key government agencies, and political leaders in order to later reach key decision-makers. Aware of the risks of their endeavors, the team worked with a former intelligence officer to mitigate potential danger to characters and collaborators.

Creative Design

The team chose to frame wildlife crime as a global security threat to better engage a diverse viewership, especially viewers less likely to consider themselves environmentalists.

The film evokes empathy from viewers by connecting them to the perspective of a poacher trapped in the system by his debts. The team crafted a narrative that would resonate with local communities by selecting relatable, multifaceted characters and stories to accurately reflect the nuances of their struggles and the complexity of the issue.

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Outreach

With their top-down impact strategy, they targeted key decision-makers. Working with CITES, the UN, and the US Department of State, they hosted screenings and meetings with China, Mexico and the US. With National Geographic’s investment, local fishermen had a platform in these meetings to tell their stories and work toward meaningful solutions.

A free educational discussion guide was crafted to accompany screenings. The team launched a public call to action using a Change.org petition and postcard campaign aimed at the Ministry of the Environment in Mexico. These outreach materials are multilingual, ensuring active international engagement.

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Measuring Impact

The Mexican government subsequently took steps to address demands in the petition and has now passed penal code reforms along with a bill dedicated to investment in alternative livelihoods. The government deployed 600 additional marines and 14 more wildlife law enforcement agents to the vaquita refuge. 

SOS has gathered over 100K signatures on their petition for increased enforcement in the Sea of Cortez and investment in alternative livelihoods. Following a screening in the Senate of Mexico, senators cited the film as they made calls for action and investigation. The Mexican government subsequently took steps to address demands in the petition and has now passed penal code reforms along with a bill dedicated to
investment in alternative livelihoods.

Scientists have since found two new vaquita calves with their mothers. Additionally, a totoaba cartel leader posted a Facebook Live video calling for vaquita protection through sustainable fishing strategies, indicating a shift in power dynamics. Partnerships between Malaika Pictures, Earth League International, the National Marine Mammal Foundation, and the Justice & Action Network for the Earth (JANE) continue to further conservation efforts through storytelling and evidence-driven impact methods. 

Dive deeper into the impact campaign with Project Impact’s SOS Case Study: