Lupita’s new film puts Samburu in global spotlight

Lupita’s virtual reality film puts Samburu in global spotlight

Elephant conservation efforts by a community in Kenya’s Samburu County is expected to bask in global spotlight after a virtual reality film about it was released worldwide on Monday.

Narrated by Kenyan-born film star Lupita Nyong’o, the film, “My Africa” lets viewers experience life in Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, which rescues abandoned or orphaned baby elephants before returning them to the wild when they are strong enough to live on their own.

The sanctuary is the first elephant orphanage in Africa owned and operated by the local community in a region where conservation has traditionally been pursued by wealthy outsiders

The film has so far attracted attention after it was shortlisted for screening at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival in New York between April 18 to 29.

The annual festival attracts millions of visitors and showcases compelling but relatively unknown film talent or stories to global audiences.

The film, produced for global environment NGO Conservation International which supports the elephant sanctuary, is available for viewing online in seven languages: English, French, Mandarin, Portuguese, Samburu, Spanish and Swahili.

The NGO has a regional office in Nairobi with headquarters in the US and supports nature protection globally.

At the heart of the film is a young Samburu woman named Naltwasha Leripe, who takes viewers through her community’s daily life, tending livestock, digging “singing” wells deep into dry riverbanks and rescuing a baby elephant orphaned by a poacher’s gun.

“Today, conservation is not about building fences but rather breaking down barriers, so that local communities benefit when nature thrives,” said project Executive Producer and Conservation International CEO Dr. M. Sanjayan.

He added: “If we are going to save nature in a crowded world we need to entirely rethink how we go about it. This film shows a new way, one that unites, rather than divides, people from wildlife.”

The film is expected to rekindle attention on threats posed by poaching, land degradation and climate change on the long-term survival of many of the region’s most iconic species and strain the resources that people need to survive. Kenya’s tourism and wildlife conservation efforts may also benefit from a marketing boost from the film.

The Reteti Elephant Sanctuary featured in “My Africa” opened in 2016 to protect vulnerable and abandoned baby elephants while providing income and job opportunities for the local community.

On her part, Anisa Kamadoli Costa, Chairman and President of the US-based Tiffany & Co. Foundation which funded the film said people need to experience what is at risk of being lost in order to understand what needs to be protected.

“By transporting viewers to the majestic wildlife and natural landscapes of Kenya, we hope to inspire audiences to become more passionate advocates for conservation,” she said.

Source the standard Newspaper

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