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Background to the documentary

Track down poachers with dogs. This is the order from the Congo to the Swiss veterinarian Marlene Zahnner.
Unique mountain gorillas and other wild animals live in Virunga National Park, but rebels and poachers are threatening the paradise.

In 2011, Marlene Zahnner surprisingly received a phone call from the Congo: the director of the park asked her for help to deal with the rampant poaching in Virunga National Park. The game population is almost 95% decimated. In particular, it is important to save the mountain gorillas, which are threatened with extinction. After initial skepticism, she agrees and travels to Central Africa in the middle of the conflict area. Since then, the committed conservationist and veterinarian has been leading the development of a highly specialized team of dogs to combat poaching.

Marlene Zahnner is an internationally sought-after specialist for mantrailing. She trained bloodhounds and their guides to target criminals. But their plan proves to be difficult: the park's game keepers have no experience in dealing with dogs and are afraid of the large animals. They call it “Simba”, which means lion in Swahili. Most of the infrastructure in Eastern Congo has been destroyed - there are hardly any shops. Everything Marlene needs for her dog squadron has to be imported from Switzerland. Smoldering conflicts break out and Marlene suddenly gets caught between war fronts. But despite constant adversity, she continues her work undeterred. Six times a year, she travels to the Congo for two weeks each to advance the anti-poaching project.

Christian Shamavu is the first Congolese dog handler that Marlene trained. He lives with his family near the park center and has just become a father for the third time. He risks his life every day to protect the park. 175 young men and women have died in the fight against poaching in the past 10 years.

Jean-Pierre Jacot is a retired psychiatrist from Bern. He has written a children's comic book about the brave woman and her dog team to support her commitment. He presents it in the surrounding schools of the park and wants to sensitize the children to poaching. Marlene, Christian and Jean-Pierre have a common goal: to preserve the mysticism and biodiversity of the oldest national park in Africa with the last mountain gorillas, okapis and forest elephants for future generations.

The film «Woman with bloodhounds» shows with impressive pictures that individual engagement can make a big difference.