“Fury Road” sparks outrage in the world’s oldest desert
Protecting the Namibian Desert after Mad Max controversy
The Namib Desert was the awe-inspiring backdrop for the high-speed car chases in ten-time Oscar nominee Mad Max: Fury Road. At the time of filming, environmentalists were fulminating, accusing the production of having destroyed the dunes.
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – The Namibian desert, with its austere moonscape, provides an ideal dramatic backdrop for a post-apocalyptic film.
Max Max: Fury Road, which won six Oscars on Sunday, was filmed in the dusty dunes of this desert. Production moved to Namibia from Australia after unusually heavy rains, Down Under turned a normally dry landscape to green.
But while parts of Namibia look like wasteland, this rugged exterior is home to a fragile ecosystem. Locals and conservationists have complained that the film crew’s work in the Namib Desert has caused damage to sensitive areas, and potentially to the small reptiles and rare cacti that live there.
Much of the filming, which took place in 2012, was based in Dorob National Park near Swakopmund, a former German colony and seaside resort on the south Atlantic coast.
A tour guide who works in the area accused Mad Max’s team of filming in a sensitive area in the park’s sand dune belt, local media reported at the time.
The crew were also accused of leaving tire tracks in previously untouched areas.
The Namib Desert, the oldest in the world, estimated to be between 50 and 80 million years old, stretches from northern South Africa to Angola.
The more arid parts of the desert receive less than half an inch of rain per year, making plant and animal life dependent on the fog that comes from the ocean. Tire tracks on desert gravel plains can take decades or more to disappear.
“What’s worse is that the film crew tried to erase the marks they left by passing nets over them, pulling out plants,” guide Tommy Collard told AFP. . “You cannot rehabilitate the landscape of the Namib Desert.
The draft of an independent environmental report, disclosed in 2013, also claimed that sensitive areas had been damaged.
The report said public and environmental consultation before filming was insufficient. According to researcher Joh Henschel, the film was authorized before the new environmental legislation came into force.
But the government-run Namibia Film Commission angrily denied any problems with the shooting, placing a full-page ad in a local newspaper claiming they gave Mad Max: Fury Road a “clean bill”.
In any case, the Academy did not take into account the environmental impact when distributing its rewards.
This article originally appeared on GlobalPost. Its content was created separately for USA TODAY.
MORE FROM GLOBAL POST: