Documentary Recommendation: Naledi: A Baby Elephant’s Tale (2016)

“The elephant never gets tired of carrying its tusks.”

-African Proverb-


Executive Producer: Paul G. Allen

Director: Ben Bowie and Geoff Luck

Cast: Mike Chase, Wellington Jana, Brett Mitchell, Boago Poloko, and Robert O’Brien.

Rating: NA

Running Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes


I’ve never seen an elephant in the wild, but one day I hope to get that chance.  This is the story of a baby elephant orphaned at a young age when her mother, Kiti, dies of intestinal problems, and the lengths it took to ensure her survival at a young age.  Born in the Abu Rescue Camp in Botswana, a handful of people including Mike Chase (camp director and doctor) and Wellington Jana (elephant manager) are the primary ones to be her surrogate mothers as she deals with rejection, danger, and realization she is “alone.”  Naledi’s caretakers are more than dedicated and intervene when necessary even after she’s reintegrated back into the herd.  There’s a lot of ups and down in his documentary, but this is what makes it worthwhile to watch.  Weaving Naledi’s story into the whole plight of elephants, Mike Chase gathers data for the Great Elephant Census to get a better idea of how many elephants are still alive in Africa.  He projects the loss of 96 elephants a day and between 25,000 to 30,000 elephants a year.  It’s not hard to imagine these numbers due to the aggressive trophy hunting and illegal poaching for tusks.  The same census taken in 2015 said 30% of Africa’s elephants have been killed since 2007.  It’s not that Naledi is the symbol of hope for elephants because you need much more than a cute face to persuade countries and their leaders to take action (read laws) against the ivory trade, but ensuring her survival is a small piece of the puzzle along with land preservation for all elephants.  The problem is poachers have decimated herds in the 100s to only a few dozen remaining.  Animals have come and gone due to natural disasters like dinosaurs, but destroying an animal for greed is on a whole different level.  There are beautiful shots taken when Mike and his team conducts the survey from their plane, but it doesn’t last long when they see decomposing elephants with their heads and tusks missing.  I won’t ruin the ending for you except to say elephant’s have a long pregnancy and there is still hope for elephants due to those fighting for their survival.


I rate Naledi: A Baby Elephant’s Tale FOUR FINGERS AND ONE THUMB.

It is PERFECT at 100%.


If you want to watch two more documentaries about elephants that are just as educational although not as uplifting as the one Naledi possesses, they are below.  The footage of The Ivory Game and Tyke Elephant Outlaw is more graphic, but that’s what you get when you cover the decimation of elephants for profit whether the ivory trade or for human entertainment.  I would say watch The Ivory Game over Tyke Elephant Outlaw but both should be watched for reasons I explained above.



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