Stuck on a Rock

Stuck on a Rock tells the important story of one of Australia’s greatest conservation blunders and victories side-by-side, as well as the human story that is so inseparably tied to it.

This documentary is about the Lord Howe Island stick insect, one of the rarest species of insects on the planet. It was wiped out on Lord Howe Island by rats in the early 1900s and was thought extinct until a series of chance events led to its rediscovery on one of the most remote and beautiful places on earth – Ball’s Pyramid, about 20km south east of Lord Howe. Since then extraordinary efforts have been made to prevent this unique species (dubbed the thylacine of the insect world) from disappearing again. This humble insect has become a symbol of the struggle to preserve what we have left and to mitigate our impact on the natural world.

When this was screened at Cambridge Earth Optimism 2021, it was followed by a presentation and a live Q&A.

The short presentation was by Rohan Cleave (a zookeeper at Melbourne Zoo) who talked more in depth about the current Lord Howe stick insect conservation programme, including their planned release onto Lord Howe Island now the rats are gone. The evening was then wrapped up with a live Q&A. Asher Flatt (the director of this documentary) joined Rohan to answer your questions in a session chaired by Andrew Balmford.

NB: Only the question and answer session is available on catch up, but the full Stuck on a Rock documentary can be rented/purchased on Amazon Prime.

Watch the trailer:

Rohan Cleave

Rohan Cleave is a zookeeper at Melbourne Zoo, where he has been involved in the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect recovery breeding program since 2003. He now manages the program at Melbourne Zoo. Rohan is also the author of Phasmid, an illustrated children’s book about this amazing true story.

Asher Flatt

Asher Flatt is a documentary filmmaker and science communicator who hails from the island nation of New Zealand. He is passionate about building a better world through positive conservation stories that have the ability to inspire change. Currently, he is living and working in the UK at the BBC Natural History Unit.

Andrew Balmford

Andrew Balmford is Professor of Conservation Science in the Department of Zoology at the University of Cambridge. His research focuses on the costs and benefits of conservation, how to best reconcile conservation and farming and examining what works in conservation. He is the author of ‘Wild Hope: On the Front Lines of Conservation Success’ (2012). Andrew currently runs the Student Conference on Conservation Science. After Nancy Knowlton’s 2016 presentation at the Student Conference on Conservation Science, he and Rosie Trevelyan co-convened the 2017 Cambridge Earth Optimism Summit.

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