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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Luxury Safari Glamping In Kenya's Olare Mara Kempinski Masai Mara Resort

Image: Olare Mara Kempinski Masai Mara in Kenya

Image: Olare Mara Kempinski Masai Mara in Kenya

The South China Morning Post drops down in East Africa Sunday, making stops to update readers about the plight of big game animals generally and elephants in particular. We'll chart their stops this week and not in order.

Chris Dwyer takes us six hours west of Nairobi by car to a landmark project within the Maasai eco-sstem, crossing Kenya's southern border with Tanzania. For several years conservationists have worked with local communities to limit cattle grazing on grasslands owned by the private 35,000-acre Olare Motorogi Conservancy, run in partnership with the Maasai people. Today the land hosts several exclusive camps including one owned by Sir Richard Branson, and less expensive lodging as well. The collaboration operating in the conservancy protects many of the world's most extraordinary animals and offers a consistent income and livelihoods for the Maasai landowners. 

Kenya has been ambitious in promoting the positive economic benefits to developing tourism and saving some of the most precious animals to walk the earth, as an alternative to working as scouts or even killers of these animals for money. Not only does the Maasai community prosper, but the animals keep the tourism developing into the future. This project has one of the highest lion densities in Africa. 

Image: Olare Mara Kempinski Masai Mara in Kenya

Image: Olare Mara Kempinski Masai Mara in Kenya

Dwyer writes: "The latest aerial census by the Kenya Wildlife Service suggests Kenya’s elephant population has increased recently, thanks in part to stringent anti-poaching measures. But when taken in the context of the overall population decline, from an estimated 167,000 animals in 1979 to 38,000 last year, the figures remain sobering."

Our writer then checks into the Olare Mara Kempinski Masai Mara resort, a camp of 12 luxury tents, swimming pool and lounge bar. I've picked some images from the resort's website, one's that remind me of the inspiration behind our GlamTribal collection and my own strong physical and unconscious connection to East Africa. 

Image: Olare Mara Kempinski Masai Mara in Kenya

Image: Olare Mara Kempinski Masai Mara in Kenya

GlamTribal is also committed to elephant conservation and The Kibera School for Girls (see website) in Nairobi, donating 10% of our sales to these two complimentary endeavors.  Considering that elephants are a matriarchal social organization and educating girls is one of the most important efforts to support peace and stable political institutions -- as well as sound economic development on the planet --  reaching adventurers who support these goals is key to our GlamTribal strategy. 

Image: Olare Mara Kempinski Masai Mara in Kenya

Image: Olare Mara Kempinski Masai Mara in Kenya

For the vast majority of us who cannot afford such a splendid experience of staying at Olare Mara Kempinski Masai Mara, we can always dream a bit through the GlamTribal experience.  To inspire your night visions, I share three pendant necklaces using our GlamTribal studio-made, featherweight beads of elephants, giraffes and our very special map of East Africa bead.  Enjoy the read and the wearing! ~ Anne