The 15-minute film, Hope by award-winning film-maker Peter McBride, can be viewed for free online (see below). The producers want to inspire viewers to support those working on the ground to save these majestic creatures, as well as help raise awareness via social media using the hashtag #gorillahope.
The film takes a behind the scenes look at the work of the charity The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and their dedicated team of trackers and anti-poaching patrols – their job is to monitor the mountain gorilla population 365 days a year (an estimated 20,000 hours a year), often in the dangerous and difficult terrain of Volcanoes National Park.
Hope also follows the local people who live next to the gorilla’s habitat and the work that is being done to change attitudes to these great apes. Years ago, mountain gorillas were hunted by poachers wanting to sell infants to zoos, or gorilla hands and heads as tourist trophies; children today are now growing up with a new found respect for these creatures.
47 years after Dian Fossey began her life’s work in mountain gorilla conservation, there are some facts to celebrate – the gorilla population has doubled from 250 to 480 (at the last census in 2010) – but this still represents small numbers and the situation remains extremely fragile with the great ape still on the critical list. The 120 people who now work for the Fossey Fund are the mountain gorilla’s only hope of survival – a message which Hope makes desperately clear.
Clare Richardson, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, explains: “Our research over the last 40 plus years has shown that simply having a protected area like a national park is not sufficient to save a species like the gorilla – which takes a long time to grow to adulthood and reproduces very slowly. Instead, extreme measures are needed.
“The Fossey Fund is all too aware that the survival of the mountain gorilla, and the safety of its habitat, is intertwined with the growth of a country in recovery since atrocities of the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. The work we do is unique, challenging and costly but we are seeing results. The population has grown and while this is encouraging, the mountain gorilla is still critically endangered and without extreme conservation work could face extinction.”
Outdoor clothing brand Craghoppers, who funded the film and sponsor the Fossey Fund, has launched a campaign T-shirt to help raise much needed funds for the charity. The 100% cotton T-shirts are £12 and available to buy at www.craghoppers.com – £5 from each sale goes directly to The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.