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Fighting to Save Elephants

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Fighting to Save Elephants
letoiye serenoy - samburu

“If you kill an elephant, it’s like killing one member of the Samburu people.”

For ten years, Google and Save the Elephants have been working together in a partnership that is vital, yet little known. Lonelyleap embarked on a journey to tell this story through a documentary - the longest Google has ever produced.

Zoologist Iain Douglas Hamilton founded Save the Elephants in 1993, having witnessed the mass slaughter of elephants throughout the seventies and eighties and realising that, if Africa’s elephant population was to survive, the ivory trade must stop. Based in Kenya and having carried out years of extensive research on the elephants in Samburu, they started working with Google to track these elephants in real time.

In order for our film to be successful, it needed to both profile the importance of the conservation work being undertaken by Save the Elephants, as well as highlight the extensive work Google Maps has done to capture the landscape so that people around the world could experience it (or journey through it) in Google Street View.

Oria Douglas Hamilton - Founder of Elephant Watch Camp

“Other species must be allowed to live on this earth, it’s not just our world.”

A poster board at Elephant Watch camp
Tracking elephant deaths

Our research showed that there was a knowledge gap: people understood elephants were being poached, but not the reasons why or how best to protect them. Working closely with Google, we embarked on a journey to Kenya where our eyes were opened to the work that is being done for elephants on the ground and how important it is that more people hear about it.

oria douglas hamilton

“When Iain and I started Save the Elephants, we just had one car and one tent...the car was the office.”

Dr Iain Douglas Hamilton - Founder of Save the Elephants

“If we can lower demand for ivory, then we can once again shift the needle in favour of elephants.”

We worked closely with Google to discover the important narrative threads underpinning the project, conducting interviews and investigative research, as well as developing treatments and storyboards to decide how best to present the content we captured. Through research we discovered that there was a knowledge gap; people understood elephants were being poached but not the reasons why or how to best protect them.

frank pope - coo, save the elephants

“We get to understand this landscape through the perspective of an elephant.”

A Maasai warrior traversing the undergrowth



Unique Views

After a 10-day filming trip in Africa, we returned to edit a 10-minute documentary that has been viewed almost 8 million times and screened at the White House as part of an effort to better understand conservation activity in Africa. A short trailer cutdown and bitesize Instagram content have been viewed almost 50,000 times including by key influencers such as Leonardo DiCaprio.

BBC Worldwide

USA Through the Great Outdoors