By Paul Ndiho
January 12, 2012
A Ugandan independent graphic artist and animator Solomon Jagwe, has produced 3D animated Mountain Gorilla movie called Galiwango. The film’s goal is to raise awareness about the plight of mountain Gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC. It also showcases mountain gorillas speaking in Luganda, a language widely spoken in Uganda.
Bwindi National Park in southwestern Uganda is home to almost one-third of the world’s last 700 wild mountain gorillas. The rest are in nearby areas of Rwanda and Congo. World Wildlife conservationists say that Mountain Gorillas are facing pressures that could drive them into extinction.
Galiwango film producer, Solomon Jagwe, who is based in the U.S., has teamed up with Uganda Wild life Authority to work on a new movie about conserving Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Park.
“What I’m trying to do is raise awareness to the plight of mountain Gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and the Congo. And one thing that I’ve noticed is that when I’ve watched the discovery channel, the national geographic all the real good programs geared towards raising awareness of all those mountain gorillas are written in English and yet the areas where these gorillas are endangered most people hardly speak or write English. So what I’m trying to do is to create a film, an animated film that is written in our native language that is Luganda.”
The film is based on a comic book about a Game Ranger, and focuses on why Mountain Gorillas are important, and their role in ecotourism, which can improve local livelihoods.
“The comic book is written around the story of a Game Ranger – who used to be a game ranger but then becomes a rebel and also a poacher because he’s trying to survive and raise his family but he’s poor… so he’s drowned into that illegal trade. And that is a danger that is actually affecting the game rangers. So I’m trying to raise awareness to the hard work that these game rangers put into protecting mountain gorillas every single day.”
Bwindi’s fertile volcanic soils and high rainfall make it one of the most densely populated areas on earth, where people rely heavily on the forest for wood and charcoal. Mr. Jagwe says that protecting gorillas in this region is one of the smartest investments Ugandans can make.
“My expectations are that as Ugandans, as Rwandese, as Congolese that we actually become aware of these rare gift that we have… Because gorillas only exist in those three countries and no were else in the World and there are only about 720 mountain gorillas left in the entire world. So if the locals can take part in protecting and not selling these gorillas on the local black market or kill them for bush meat then we’d have made a big difference.”
Conservationists say the vast forest covering southwestern Uganda’s vast forest is in decline due to population growth, expanding farmlands and the burning of trees for fuel. The poaching of wildlife in the region has intensified recently to the point where the wildlife has been driven from their natural habitats. And over the last 10 years, some 130 park rangers have been killed while cracking down on poachers, illegal miners and rebels in the region.