Sunday, December 5, 2010

Gorilla Conservation Goes Pedal Powered!

Hi this is Sam at the Gorilla Organization’s Ugandan resource centre. The last couple of weeks have been very exciting for us. We have launched a brand new gorilla consrervation project in Western Uganda – Africa’s very first pedal powered cinema for conservation! This innovative cinema will be showing educational conservation films to school children and communities in some of the most rural villages on the edge of Mgahinga National Park. Prior to the launch of this project, many of the children, and even their teachers, had never seen a film before – and many had never seen images of gorillas.

Here is a photo of the pedal-powered cinema in action. The viewers take it in turns to pedal the bike, which generates enough energy to power the film!


Madeline Westwood, the director of the Great Apes Film initiative, who is partnering with the Gorilla Organization on this project, and Colin Tonks, the “wonder technician” and inventor of the cinema, came to Uganda from the UK to set this project running.

The first film showings were amazing – at one screening as many as 800 children came along to enjoy the Gorilla Organization’s film. And they were so excited – it was wonderful to see. The bike adds an extra element of audience participation to the screenings and children where queuing up to do some pedaling and power the film!

The children were amazed at what they saw. Some were so interested in the gorillas, and are now so desperate to protect them that they wanted us to make sure that their parents could watch the film too – I have no doubt that each and every one of them went home to tell their families about what they had seen. This is a huge step for gorilla conservation – the more local people who what to protect the gorillas, the more likely the gorillas are to survive long into the future.

As well as providing invaluable conservation education, the bikes provide an entirely clean source of power. No petrol is needed, no electricity is needed and as a result there is no negative environmental impact of showing these films.

Conservation education is now reaching remote communities, villages with no electricity and a whole host of others who have never before been able to see films or access this type of education – for this we are extremely proud. In the three weeks that the project has been running 11,600 school children, 184 teachers, 110 soldiers and 46 park rangers, all living around the Ugandan gorilla habitats, have seen the films – wow!

Here is a photo of children transfixed by the film and the bike in motion!

For more information about The Gorilla Organization please visit:



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