Angelina Jolie to Direct Elephant Poaching Drama "Africa" by Dede Tabak, October 29 2014, 0 Comments

Angelina Jolie has an impressive resume. She’s an actress, a mother, a wife, a humanitarian and a director. And now, Jolie is set to direct her fourth film, "Africa", for Skydance productions. The film revolves around the paleo-archaeologist, Richard Leakey. It takes place in the late 80s and it will focus on Leakey’s fight with ivory poachers threatening the existence of African elephants.

Richard Leakey was born in Kenya and is the son of legendary couple, anthropologist Louise Leakey and archaeologist Mary Leakey. Richard Leakey was in charge of expeditions that led to influential discoveries in the field of paleoanthropology, as well as served as the director of the National Museums of Kenya. In 1990, Leakey was appointed the head of the Kenyan Wildlife Services. It was during this time that he successfully combated elephant and rhinoceros poaching. He managed the reorganization of Kenya’s troubled national park system. Leakey’s aggressive methods were extremely controversial and included arming the Kenya Wildlife Service units with instructions to shoot poachers on sight. He was also influential in getting a world ban on ivory trade. Leakey recorded his experiences in the 2001 book Wildlife Wars: My Fight to Save Africa’s Natural Treasures.

This project is a good fit for Angelina Jolie, who’s definitely made a name for herself as a humanitarian and philanthropist. Since filming "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider"in war-torn Cambodia, Jolie has worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and has gone on field missions around the world to meet with refugees and internally displaced persons in more than 30 countries. Some of her other achievements include:

  • 2001 - Recognized and named a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador
  • 2003 - Became the first recipient of the Citizen of the World Award by the United Nations Correspondents Association
  • 2005 - Awarded the Global Humanitarian Award by the UNA-USA
  • 2011 - Presentedwith a gold pin by UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, in recognition of her decade as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador; the pin is reserved for the most long-serving staff
  • 2013 - Received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, an honorary Academy Award, from the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  • 2014 - Appointed an Honorary Dame Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (DCMG) for her services to the United Kingdom's foreign policy and campaigning to end sexual violence in war zones. Her directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey, which highlights the horrific effect of the Bosnian War during the 1990’s, centering on the universal theme of love and the connection of two people, one Bosnian-Serbian army officer and one Muslim prisoner, against the violent backdrop of the genocidal war

Jolie was moved by the beauty of Eric Roth’s script for "Africa".

“I’ve felt a deep connection to Africa and its culture for much of my life, and was taken with Eric’s beautiful script about a man drawn into the violent conflict with elephant poachers who emerged with a deeper understanding of man’s footprint and a profound sense of responsibility for the world around him,” said Jolie when announcing her involvement with this project.

Richard Leakey, who is now 69 years old, hasn’t stopped fighting. He recently made a formal request to President Uhuru Kenyatta to declare a state of national emergency on wildlife poaching. Sadly, the world is dealing with an unprecedented spike in illegal wildlife trade, threatening to overturn decades of conservation and development gains. The demand for wildlife products has surged, sending the black market price of ivory, rhino horn, and other products to historic highs. According to the NGO Global March for Elephant and Rhinos, a rhino is slaughtered every 9 to 11 hours for its horn, while an elephant every 14 minutes for its tusks.

Hopefully, Jolie’s film "Africa"can raise awareness for this growing crisis. Today, there are fewer than 400,000 elephants and 18,000 rhinos left roaming the lands of Africa and both species could be extinct within two decades.