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Plight of Iberian Wolves interests Alum

By Shannon Smith
Executive In-Depth Editor
Prospect Alum, EJ Horstman, recently won A National Geographic Young Explorers Grant, which he will be using to fund his next film project, “EJ1 (1)Iberian Wolves: Under Fire”. In an email interview, Horstman said that winning the grant was a big deal for him.
“Winning the grant felt like an important step for me – a validation of sorts,” Horstman said.
Horstman has had an interest in animals since he was a child, and loved the show Crocodile Hunter. At the University of Michigan he received a degree in Wildlife Film Studies. During college he worked many jobs and internships related to his major, and the summer after he graduated college he was accepted into National Geographic’s Television internship.
At National Geographic Horstman worked his way from an intern to an associate producer on “Secret Life of Predators”. He also worked as a production assistant on a film for dolphins and on a film about golden eagles. This past year he has been a camera operator and production assistant on National Geographic’s “Bandit Patrol”.
In addition to the projects he worked on for National Geographic he independently made a film with  Kevin Van Egeren, who is also a Prospect Alum (The film can be viewed at vimeo.com/66467071). The research of this film led Horstman to uncover the condition of the Iberian Wolves living in the Sierra de la Culebra, which is a mountain range located in both Portugal and Spain.
The Sierra de la Culebra is one of the last remaining areas with a sizeable population of Iberian wolves. While Portugal has laws protecting the animal, the Zamora Regional Authority in Spain holds an auction each year where people are able to bid on six wolves that will be baited and killed for sport. According to Horstman near a shooting range in Spain meat scraps are left out to lure the wolves.
“ Iberian wolves know no borders, and once a wolf crosses from Portugal to Spain it can be legally killed,” Horstman said.
This past year an Iberian wolf protection group, Lobo Marley, won the lives of two wolves that otherwise would have been killed. For his film Horstman will be tracking the wolves with Lobo Marley and another Portuguese conservation group.
The Zamora Regional Authority will not let Horstman and his crew film on the Spanish side of the Sierra de la Culebra so they plan on tracking the wolves on the Portuguese side. He also plans to attach crittercams to the wolves to get an “inside look” at their lives, and to expose the cruelty dealt out to them.
According to Horstman wolves play an essential part to a fragile ecosystem by keeping other species at a stable population.
“So I think that if I can make something people want to watch, it will raise awareness about these animals and the pivotal role they have in maintaining the natural world, and without them nature falls apart,” Horstman said.
To make a donation to their effort the link is https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/save-the-iberian-wolves-documentary/x/9367389
 

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