No I didn’t go on safari and no I didn’t climb Kilimanjaro.
Well I did sort of….
I had the pleasure and privilege of staying on the border of the Arusha National Park and on the Masai Steppe in Tanzania with Kilimanjaro as my neighbour to research and write a screenplay for a new initiative from Nature For Kids and the Sparkling Elephant Project: an exciting adventure film for children, working title…
GOODWILL AND LIHWA AND THE TREASURE OF THE ELEPHANTS
The African bush is full of dangers, especially if you’re only eleven years old and abandoned. A boy and a young elephant both become victims of poaching. But just who is rescuing whom?
My research included meeting with local children, Masai, rangers, farmers, ranchers, safari guides, tourists, government ministers and elephants and other wildlife. Obviously some I could get closer to than others. It was both wonderful and awful and at times, like when I found these elephant remains, or watched a boy cut down another acacia tree for charcoal, heartbreaking.
I’m not a trained conservationist or zoologist but having read and listened to people from all sides of the arguments, I truly believe that elephants play a more important role in our world wide ecology than we realise. They may seem destructive but they are Africa’s gardeners, maintaining the rainforest (the planet’s lungs) – to be losing them at the unsustainable rate of one every fifteen minutes to ivory poachers is insanity: no elephants means no rainforest means no control over CO2 means no control over climate change means… It is not just rhetoric but science-based knowledge when I say, “in saving the elephants we are saving ourselves”.
The plan is for this film to be the backbone of a conservation initiative throughout Africa and China. Freely available to major conservation and tourism partners, there will be versions in multiple languages, English, Kiswahili, Mandarin for example but of course the beauty of film is that it tells a story visually and can go beyond words and their boundaries. It is hoped that the film will be the catalyst for everyone to rediscover elephants and bring the sparkle back to Africa before we lose them and ourselves forever.
Very pleased to see the artwork and my blurb for the DVD for Ajani’s Great Ape Adventures. This was such a great project to work on.
Supported by a whole host of international conservation charities, the three films that make up Ajani’s Great Ape Adventures are designed to teach young people across Africa about our close relatives the apes and how important it is to keep them and their habitat safe: not just for the apes but for the young people and their real families too. With poverty so often the consequence as well as the cause of habitat loss and species extinction, it is vital that solutions that benefit people as well as animals are found.
That all sounds far too heavy to put on a young one’s shoulders. But these stories, like any good educational tool, are fun and exciting with a feel good factor that will encourage rather than condemn. And they offer simple, practical and doable solutions that will help, not hinder local people to thrive.
I was brought in to work on the narration. Originating with Dutch filmmakers, the English version needed colloquializing so that it felt more in keeping with the characters. It was great fun and because I was working off of the rough cuts rather than the script, it was perhaps more akin to editing than writing. I loved watching the children’s performances and the footage of the chimps and gorillas is wonderful. And there is a poop fight. Of which I wholeheartedly approve.
I wish the Dutch makers of the films, Nature for Kids, every success with this project and hope I can work with them again in the future.