Only 415,000 African elephants are left in the wild. Despite increasing awareness, habitat loss and poaching are still reducing their numbers at a terrifying rate. In the summer of 2018, an aerial survey in Botswana found 87 elephants had been killed and their tusks cut off for their ivory, the highest number in recent years.
Elephants are part of a complex ecosystem, and scientists and conservationists know protecting them isn’t just crucial to the species itself but also for other African animals, birds and plants.
Now, advanced technologies, such as virtual reality (VR), are reinventing the way scientists and conservationists share their message. Using HP VR Backpack PCs, a new in-depth viewing experience has been created and showcased at film festivals by The Retiti Elephant Sanctuary, the first community-owned-and-operated elephant sanctuary in Africa.
The nine-minute 360-degree VR film, ‘My Africa’ was produced by Conservation International (CI) and gives viewers new insights into how the sanctuary rescues, rehabilitates, and finally reintroduces orphaned baby elephants back to the wild.
It also helps local Kenyan communities benefit from conservation initiatives, as elephant-driven tourism brings money in, helping the community to care for their livestock.
The My Africa team chose HP because it offered viewers the chance to walk inside the VR experience untethered. VR is proven to build empathy, immersing one person in the world of another. Once they become virtual Kenyans, CI hopes viewers will understand the importance of the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary and be inspired to act.
It also wants this film to bear fruit like its two previous VR projects, one of which helped save 10,000 acres of the Amazon rainforest.