DurbanThe Durban waterfront at night. (Image: South African Tourism)

After its launch in Durban in 2006 and successful iterations in 2007, 2009 and 2011, South Africa’s premier Wildlife Film Festival and Conference, Wild Talk Africa, returns to Durban in July this year.

The event will take place from the 23 to 26 July, in the same month as the Durban International Film Festival and Durban Filmmart. This gathering of film industry events will work towards turning Durban’s golden mile into the southern hemisphere’s version of Cannes – the world capital for film markets and festivals. Like Cannes, Durban has the necessary infrastructure to handle a collaborative effort of this nature, with the added advantages of beaches on a warm ocean, affordable hotels, convenient cinema complexes nearby and the uShaka Marine World, home to the largest collection of West Indian Ocean species in the world. Attractions for after the festival include nearby game reserves, KwaZulu-Natal’s beautiful heritage sites and a range of ocean activities.

Wild Talk Africa, one of the world’s three top natural history conferences and the only one in Africa, adds a new dimension to the current offerings with its focus on the growing scope of wildlife and natural history programming. This includes expedition, adventure, human-animal interaction and environmental programming. The festival attracts filmmakers from across the world as well as experts in broadcast and technology, commissioning editors, conservationists and representatives in travel and tourism. In previous years both local and international broadcasters have attended the conference. Some of these include Animal Planet, National Geographic, Smithsonian Networks, Discovery Channel International, BBC, NHK Japan Broadcasting Corp, the SABC, and Top TV.

The world-renowned Roscar Awards (Rhino Oscars) are a highlight of the festival, accolades given to selected winning filmmakers for their outstanding contribution to advancing the understanding of our natural world. Entries are judged by over 50 of the world’s leading industry experts and the award-winners are announced at a high profile gala dinner that takes during the conference. The Roscar trophy that was modelled on Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s logo, is an appropriate icon for this year’s theme: Wild Talk Africa 2013: The Year of the Rhino. In line with this theme, Wild Talk Africa will be supporting WESSA’s Rhino Fund through by donating 10% of sponsorship funds from the Roscar Award entries to WESSA.

This year Wild Talk Africa will be located along Durban’s waterfront, offering delegates a whole new festival experience. Over and above the four-day conference programme, they will have the opportunity to enjoy a variety of film premieres, lively networking parties and evening events.