Henley Toad Patrol will be featured in a film at one of the biggest wildlife film festivals in the world, the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival taking place online from 1-9 October 2020. The festival is normally held in New York but this this year, like many others, it is going online.
Every year from February volunteers from the Henley Toad Patrol help carry toads, frogs and newts across the busy A4155 Henley to Marlow Road in order for them to reach their spawning pond in the grounds of Henley Business School. They erect a 1km barrier along the busy road and then collect the amphibians in buckets and take them across the road. Last year they helped 8,820 toads, 234 frogs and 344 newts, the second highest number collected since records began. For the first time this year, the volunteers helped the hatched mini toads get back to the Oaken Grove Wood on the Culden Faw estate in July.
The film, Slow Toad Patrol was made by Chris Suddaby and Ernesta Gempler who will be guest speakers at the Festival. Chris said, “In the film, we follow Angelina Jones and her team of volunteers around for three months as they endeavour to help thousands of toads cross a local busy road to get to their ancestral pond. We highlight what it takes to be a Toad Patroller, and delve into the reasons why many different people from different backgrounds leave their warm homes on an evening to walk around in the winter mud and rain, helping amphibians survive a treacherous annual journey. The film is a charming and uplifting example of human’s love for nature, and a thoughtful reflection of what drives people to help.”
The film started as a micro-documentary about a local wildlife conservation effort. Chris explained, “The film then blossomed into a 31-minute short film about this group of volunteers, their co-ordinator, their passion for this cause, and their personal reasons to take part in saving thousands of toads each year. At its core this unique and uplifting film is about ‘backyard’ conservation, coming together with like-minded individuals, and making a real difference. We wanted to show that we can help wildlife right now, make an impact right now, with nothing but a bucket and a torch if needs be.”
Angelina Jones who founded the Toad Patrol said, “It is incredibly exciting that the film has been selected for the WCFF film festival next month. It is a huge achievement for the filmmakers, husband and wife team. I was approached by filmmakers Chris and Ernesta in 2019 as they were keen to shoot maybe a 5 minute docufilm on Henley Toad Patrol group volunteers. Recording over a period of many months, mainly in the dark at night from February, the filming began with the erecting of the amphibian barriers, the migration itself, the toad progeny leaving the lake and the barrier being removed when migration 2019 finished. The final film ended up 30 minutes long. Suffice to say that I am incredibly proud of them both and the film that they have made. Henley Toad Patrol is a long term project for our volunteer group. I have no doubt that their film will have a huge positive impact for our group, other Toad Patrol groups nationwide and ultimately and most importantly, for the toads.”
Click here to watch the film trailer SLOW: Toad Patrol