The haunting film, Darwin's Nightmare, by Hubert Sauper reveals the horrifying reality of how globalization and a scientific experiment gone wrong can lead to massive exploitation. About 40-50 years ago, the Nile Perch was introduced into Lake Victoria in Tanzania as a simple scientific study. This predatory fish quickly collapsed almost the entire stock of native fish species leaving the local fishermen with only one fish to work with.
This Perch soon became a multi-billion dollar industry. The majority of planes fly in daily from Europe to pick up the latest catch in exchange for weapons and ammunition to fuel some of Africa's deadliest wars in the Congo and Angola. Since the Nile Perch is far too expensive for locals to buy, their only choice is to end up with the wasted and spoiled remains. While Europeans and other developed nations are profiting off Tanzania's Perch and fueling Africa's blood wars, local Tanzanians are dying from starvation, diseases, or otherwise falling into prostitution and drugs. The film exposes the life of these prostitutes, Russian pilots, world bank agents, orphaned children and local fisherman.
The fish may have been supporting thousands of fishermen and the elite Europeans not too long ago but today the reality is not so promising. The fish is now on the brink of extinction from overfishing, posing a serious threat to Lake Victoria as well as the devastating famine that has already plagued Tanzania in the past.
Although Darwin's Nightmare is definitely an eye-opening documentary, it is not one of my favorites. There is a definite lack of focus and lack of solutions for an appalling outcome of developed nations and world organizations exploiting local people over an environmental crisis.