‘Tarangire: Our Heritage, Our Future’ Film Brings the National Park Experience to Tanzania’s Youth
This special film was created so that Tanzanian children can experience Tarangire National Park virtually during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Yamat Lengai, African People & Wildlife
On October 22, 2021, a group of Tanzanian youth experienced the beauty and wonder of Tarangire National Park for the first time – through film. African People & Wildlife (APW) premiered "Tarangire: Our Heritage, Our Future" at Regalz Cinemaxx in Arusha, Tanzania following a period when its annual Tarangire National Park trips for rural youth were paused due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many youth in northern Tanzania’s Tarangire ecosystem live around its famous park, but the majority have never traveled inside it or seen animals such as lions and elephants with their own eyes.
“The students are usually very excited when they visit the park, which is an amazing experience considering many do not have the chance to go on their own,” said Revocatus Magayane, APW’s environmental education officer. “Since we could no longer take youth to the park, we decided to bring the park to the youth through film.”
The film is based throughout the park and its surrounding lands, which are home to some of the world’s most incredible and important animal species as well as Indigenous communities who have lived alongside wildlife for centuries.
Filmed throughout the fall of 2020, “Tarangire, Our Heritage, Our Future” features a Tanzanian cast and was created by and for Tanzanians. The film was directed by National Geographic Explorer and filmmaker Hans Cosmas Ngoteya of Ngoteya Wild, who said, “The film will help youth to understand the importance, benefits, and challenges of the park while telling a powerful story of hope and inspiration during difficult times.”
The film brings youth and other viewers on a learning safari through different areas of the park’s diverse habitats with narrator and traveler Yamat Lengai, APW’s monitoring and evaluation officer, who was born and raised in a community on the edge of the park. Audiences can see breathtaking landscapes and experience exciting wildlife behaviors: lions roaring, elephants rolling in the mud, vultures vying for a meal with other animals, and ostrich chicks following their parents. The film also brings viewers to neighboring lands and showcases local people who work at the forefront of preserving Tarangire’s wealth of biodiversity.
“While the film aims to showcase Tarangire’s incredible wildlife and landscapes, we also want to emphasize that this is one of the Earth’s last wild places and needs our urgent protection. The future of Tarangire depends on us now to conserve its natural resources in a better way for future generations,” said Lengai.
I was very impressed with the women who were selling beaded jewelry outside the park gates. It shows that women too are benefitting from the park and therefore it serves them well to protect it.
Esta Saimon, Local Student
Joining local youth at the Arusha premiere were several APW partner organizations and local government agencies. After watching the film, the audience engaged in a lively question and answer session with APW staff, park authorities, and an employee from Ngoteya Wild. The session was followed by a networking event where attendees were able to share more thoughts on the film with the creators and each other.
Esta Saimon, a local student who attended the premiere, said, “I was very impressed with the women who were selling beaded jewelry outside the park gates. It shows that women too are benefitting from the park and therefore it serves them well to protect it.”
“This film has taught me the importance of conservation – the way animals depend on each other in the park as well as other opportunities that arise due to conservation,” said local teacher Madam Lucy Mgeni. “This will be very good for the children at school as they are learning at a young age and will grow up knowing of conservation.”
"Tarangire: Our Heritage, Our Future" also aims to help audiences understand the essential role that communities play in conservation; local efforts can be powerful drivers of environmental protection. APW’s continued partnerships with local people serve as an example throughout Tanzania and beyond to promote more community engagement in conservation.
“The film not only tells us about wildlife but demonstrates that we need to continue working closely with different partners in neighboring communities if we want to see the park flourish,” said Godwell Meing'ataki of Tanzania National Parks while attending the premiere.
This film is part of APW’s growing efforts to share inspiring stories through film and other media to help build a generation of youth ready to fight to protect the natural world. Moving forward, APW will show the film to schoolchildren throughout northern Tanzania as well as make it available on different media platforms for every Tanzanian to access. APW aims to reach as many people as possible to create a bigger impact for nature and the communities that benefit from protecting wild places.
APW is grateful to the many individuals, organizations, and partners who contributed to the success of this film, including USAID, Northern Tanzania Rangelands Initiative, Nomad, Tanzania National Parks, and Tarangire National Park.