Lupita Nyong'o Narrates Award-Winning 'My Africa' Virtual Reality Film For Elephant Conservation

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A virtual reality film ‘My Africa’, narrated by Oscar-winning film star Lupita Nyong’o and supported by The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, is among the winners of the annual Jackson Hole Science Media Awards.

The nine-minute film won top honors in the Virtual Reality/360° Storytelling category for “effectively using 360 technology and resources to advance an appreciation or understanding of a scientific discipline, discovery or principle.”

The film which was commissioned by Global environmental organization Conservation International which supports community-led wildlife conservation in Northern Kenya —is available in 7 languages including English, French, Mandarin, Portuguese, Samburu, Spanish and Swahili.

Directed by David Allen, the project was captured with virtual reality cameras in the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy in Samburu County of northern Kenya at the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, the first elephant orphanage in Africa owned and operated by the local community. In a region where conservation has traditionally been pursued by outsiders, Reteti — and the surrounding conservancy organization, Northern Rangelands Trust — offer a model grounded in local leadership and traditional knowledge, explains Creative Planet Network.

At the center of the film is Naltwasha Leripe, a young woman from the Samburu community who lets us into the community's daily life of tending livestock, digging "singing" wells deep into dry riverbanks and rescuing an orphaned baby elephant.

Lupita Nyong’o narrates the film from the perspective of Naltwasha, emphasizing the inter-relationships of the people living in Samburu County with the land, water and wildlife. .

Naltwasha Leripe, the young woman’s vision of her community in   Samburu County narrated by Lupita NNyongo’o in ‘My Africa’.

Naltwasha Leripe, the young woman’s vision of her community in Samburu County narrated by Lupita NNyongo’o in ‘My Africa’.

The conservation efforts in the community-owned Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy have become a first line of defense against the bloody poaching syndicates that previously decimated Kenya’s wildlife populations. Today the community has become staunch allies of the wildlife seeing them as invaluable assets and profiting from the proceeds that come from ecotourism.

"My Africa" was produced for Conservation International by Passion Planet in association with Vision3 while distribution support was provided by glassy baby. Here is the short documentary in its entirety.

In September AOC touched base with Doutzen Kroes and her project #Knot On My Planet, supported by The Tiffany Foundation

This summer, Doutzen was in Kenya for luxury brand LOEWE and Knot On My Planet, working with Samburu women on special collection bags supporting elephant conservation.

Our June article on luxury camping in northern Kenya addressed the community-based animal conservation programs addressed in the ‘My Africa’ video. Land ownership and lease relationships with luxury hotel companies for safari camps are also a key innovation in how local communities can prosper from luxury travel without abandoning their traditional roots and evolving lifestyles by selling off tribal lands.

Lupita Nyong’o Archives @ AOC

LOEWE Works With Kenya's Samburu Women On Elephant Bag For The Elephant Crisis Fund

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LOEWE and Knot On My Planet joins forces today to launch a limited edition collection of their iconic Elephant Mini Bag in tan, in support of the Elephant Crisis Fund (ECF)—a joint initiative between Save The Elephants (STE) and WCN, in partnership with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.

Knot On My Planet is closely associated with supermodel Doutzen Kroes, who hasbecome one of the loudest voices in elephant conservation, whose mission is to put an end to the ivory crisis and elephant extinction. When Kroes first visited Samburu, Kenya, and interacted with the elephant population there, she said she knew she needed to take action in the form of a long-term commitment to protecting severely-threatened elephants in Africa.  

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These adorable, compact elephant-shaped bags—with floppy ears, trunks, and all—are among LOEWE’s most popular designs and part of their Animal line. However, this particular collection includes one unique detail that makes these bags all the more special, intricate beadwork that has been meticulously handcrafted by Samburu women from Northern Kenya. The Samburu people share a special relationship with elephants and work closely with STE to protect them.

LOEWE is donating all proceeds of sales to the Elephant Crisis Fund, which aims to stop poaching, prevent trafficking and end the demand for ivory. The bags are sold online and at Bergdorf Goodman. 

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Halima Aden Returns To Kakuma Refugee Camp In Kenya, Films TEDX Talk, Becomes UNICEF Ambassador

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Model, beauty queen and humanitarian Halima Aden's life cup is overflowing with Gaia's bounty. 

"I was the first Muslim homecoming queen at my high school, the first Somali student senator at my college, and the first hijab-wearing woman in many places, like the Miss Minnesota USA beauty pageant, the runways of Milan and New York fashion weeks, and even on the historic cover of British Vogue," she explained in a recent (but not yet posted) TED Talk she gave at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya — another first, both for her and for TED, as it was the first talk streamed from a refugee camp in the program's history. But the visit also held a special significance for Halima, as it marked the first time she had returned to Kakuma after moving to the United States at age 7.

The boundary-expanding 'Teen Vogue' traveled with Halima and filmmaker Mikey Kay to the camp where she was born, after her mother fled Somalia on foot. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 185,000 displaced peoples from 14 different countries currently live in Kakuma; some of those refugees were preparing to move to the United States after years of vetting before the Trump administration instituted a recently SC upheld travel ban from several countries, including Somalia -- home to the terrorist organization Al-Shabaab. 

Now an American citizen and beauty queen from Minnesota,  Halima carries Kakuma with her throughout her life. "I think, Did I make the most out of my journey to America? Did I make the most out of my life?" she tells Teen Vogue. "I know millions of other people, other girls my age, they got to stay behind. They got to live their lives out here, and I escaped, I made it out."

Now a UNICEF ambassador, Halima has declared herself fully committed to the fight for refugees. "I want to share my story. I want them to be able to feel like they can go and do anything they put their mind to." This concept -- to tell the positive stories behind refugee camps and not only the sorrowful ones -- is the inspiration behind the TEDx Talks in Kakuma. We will post those talks, including Halima's, as they are are made public. Meanwhile, Teen Vogue gives us Halima Aden in this inspiring, woman-power video. 

Halima Aden Archives @ AOC