MWF 24: Dan O'Neill - Wildlife Filmmaker, Explorer and Field Biologist

Dan discusses his films 'Queen of Birds' and 'To Find a Harpy', his global explorations, the importance of having a management agency, and his Wilderland Film Festival.


Dan's Instagram:
Wilderland TV Channel:
Wilderland Film Festival Website:



Dan’s thirst for adventure and the natural world has taken him to some of the most remote places left on Earth from the Mayan temples of the Yucatan and ancient civilisations of Southeast Asia to the mountains of North Africa and the deepest parts of the Amazon rainforest.

His background as a field biologist has equipped him with an extensive knowledge of rainforest biodiversity and survival skills, particularly in the Neotropics. In 2019 he was part of a 7 person expedition to the headwaters of one of Guyana’s most remote rivers – the Rewa - in search of wild animals that had never seen people before. He made video diaries and presented the journey culminating with the filming of a wild rainforest jaguar on the expedition’s final day.

After reading an article about the last surviving Giant Yangtze Soft-shelled Turtles, Dan travelled extensively through Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand on a motorbike researching the illegal wildlife trade, specifically of freshwater turtles. He returned to Vietnam in September 2019 in search of the critically endangered Cat Ba langur with anti-poachers fighting on the front lines.

Through visiting the wet markets of Southeast Asia, hawk and falcon markets in Morocco and shark finning stalls in South America, he has developed an international understanding of how the wildlife trade affects local people, conservation and its connection to areas of conflict. Most recently he travelled to the rebel-occupied red zone of western Mindanao to learn the conservation story of the most endangered raptor on the planet, the Philippine eagle. These experiences have led Dan to begin his PhD research at The University of Sheffield on the global impacts of war on wildlife conservation.

Dan is a graduate of the prestigious Master's course in Wildlife Filmmaking at the University of the West of England, partnered with the BBC Natural History Unit. For his final project, he organised an expedition into the remote rainforests of Guyana, using his expertise to realise a woman’s life-long dream of seeing the formidable harpy eagle in the wild. The film, ‘To Find a Harpy”, has since been selected by 20 film festivals, screening to audiences all over the world.
With conservation dreams in mind Dan created Wilderland Film Festival - the UK’s first ever touring wildlife film festival. Alongside the festival, the Wilderland TV youtube channel has already gained thousands of subscribers and continues to share independent wildlife films from around the world.

Dan also discusses his latest film 'Queen of Birds' and how he produced and developed the story for film.


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