Lupita puts Samburu in global limelight with virtual reality film

Kenyan-born Hollywood Star Lupita Nyong’o has thrust Samburu County into the global limelight over the community’s noble initiative to protect elephants which are endangered species.

In a virtual reality film released on Monday titled “My Africa”, reports the Standard, Lupita gives viewers a breathtaking experience about Reteti Elephant Sanctuary.

The sanctuary rescues abandoned or orphaned baby elephants before returning them to the wild when they are strong enough to live on their own.

Besides protecting abandoned or orphaned baby elephants, the sanctuary which was opened in 2016 has provided income and job opportunities for the local community.

Reteti Elephant Sanctuary is unique in that it is Africa’s first elephant orphanage owned and operated by the local community. Further, the sanctuary is situated in a region where such undertakings are taken up by affluent outsiders’ majority being foreigners.

In the film, a young Samburu woman, Naltwasha Leripe, takes viewer through day to day activity for a typical Samburu which entails herding livestock, sinking wells and ultimately trying to save an orphaned baby elephant.

The film was among those shortlisted for screening at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival in New York between April 18 to 29 in the annual festival which attracts millions of viewers and visitors as they tell their stories and showcase talents.

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

The global environment NGO has offices in Nairobi but its headquarters are based in the US. It supports nature protection globally.

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

The CEO added that, “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.”

President of the US-based Tiffany & Co. Foundation which funded the film, Anisa Kamadoli Costa noted the film is critical in creating awareness among the people on the danger of losing such heritage.

“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 opined.