Steve Elkins

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Steve Elkins

Steve Elkins- A Saluki's Quest for the Lost City

Southern Illinois University is thrilled to present Steve Elkins, a cinematographer and explorer, and an SIU alumnus. 

A public lecture is scheduled on Tuesday, October 2 at 7 p.m. at the SIU Student Center Ballrooms, with a reception and book signing to immediately follow. Steve Elkins Lecture Flyer.

The Lost City of the Monkey GodIn heart-pounding detail, Steve Elkins recounts his experience as expedition leader and discoverer of a mysterious, ancient city in a remote Honduran jungle rainforest. His brushes with death and dangerous exploits are featured, most notably, in the best-selling non-fiction book, The Lost City of the Monkey God, by acclaimed author, Doug Preston. Elkins explains how he found his way his way around road blocks or just ploughed right through them to pursue his wildest dreams to find the lost ruins of a once- thriving centuries-old metropolis.


About Steve Elkins

Elkins has worked in television for 30 years as a cinematographer, editor, and producer. His media career has earned him an Emmy for documentary camerawork as well numerous other industry awards. He always desired to blend his thirst for exploration with film-making, which is why he sought science adventure film projects around the world.

In 1994, Elkins became fascinated with the Central American rainforest region, known as the Honduran Mosquitia, and its lost city legends. At that time, he fueled his obsession by means of researching and then organizing several expeditions to search for the lost city. Years later, he read about the advent of LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), an airborne remote sensing method that uses pulsed laser beams to effectively map the earth’s surface even beneath forest canopies. Given this new mapping technology, Elkins once again sought to prove to the world whether the lost city legends were actually true.

Elkins--Jungle-Shotsm.jpgIn 2012, he formed a company, UTL (Under the LIDAR, Inc.), with adventure-loving partners to explore the Mosquitia jungle in Honduras and to produce a documentary film about searching for a lost city. Later that year, Elkins, with the help of his partners, especially documentary filmmaker Bill Benenson, organized an airborne LIDAR expedition to scan several unexplored areas of the Mosquitia jungle where Elkins thought ruins of the lost city might be found. Their efforts paid off, and their discovery was the subject of a feature story in the May 2013 issue of New Yorker magazine titled, “The Eldorado Machine” by Douglas Preston. The article attracted influencers around the world including scientists, environmentalists, government leaders, and foreign policy experts. In fact, Foreign Policy Magazine named Elkins one its Leading Global Thinkers of the Year for his achievements and his influence on the future of exploration technology and Honduras. He also became a Fellow in the Explorers Club.

Not resting on their laurels, Elkins and Benenson assembled a multi-disciplinary scientific team in 2015 to put boots on the ground in the Mosquitia rainforest to verify their discoveries. Enduring the extreme environment of the rainforest, Elkins’s team survived poisonous snakes, lethal parasites, and hidden mudholes to uncover an ancient lost city – and civilization.

The stunning find garnered world headlines including an article in the October 2015 issue of National Geographic (“Lure of the Lost City”), an episode of National Geographic Explorer (“Legend of the Monkey God”), and numerous other print and television stories around the globe. The Lost City of the Monkey God by Preston was published in 2017 and has been a runaway New York Times bestseller.

In February 2017, Elkins was honored for his contributions to Honduras at a ceremony in Tegucigalpa hosted by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and US Ambassador James Nealon. And most recently, Elkins and Benenson organized a multinational team (including Honduran) of biologists, under the auspices of Conservation International, to conduct a survey of the unique flora and fauna in the rainforest surrounding their lost city discoveries.

The legacy continues as a public/private foundation (The Kaha Kamasa Foundation) is currently being organized to provide for continuing scientific research and conservation of this unique but threatened area.

Elkins has appeared on many media platforms around the world, including TEDx, National Public Radio, CBS, Xinhua, BBC, etc. He offers singularly dynamic viewpoints on following your passion, leadership, motivation, courage, and exploration in the 21st century.

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