Paul Allen's Vulcan behind film spotlighting slaughter of wild elephants

This week the Obama administration banned nearly all commercial trade of African elephant ivory in the U.S.

The news comes as Paul Allen's Vulcan Productions prepares for the world premiere of its newest film, "Naledi: A Baby Elephant's Tale."

The movie shines a spotlight on the declining elephant population due to poachers slaughtering the animals for their tusks.

Last year, nearly 35,000 African elephants were killed. That's one elephant every 15 minutes. And according to Vulcan, if nothing changes, wild elephants will disappear in 10 years.

The movie tells the story of Naledi, a baby elephant born in an African rescue camp, who is orphaned when her mother suddenly dies.




The subject matter is heavy and dramatic -- tear-jerking at times.  But producers say "Naledi" is a family-friendly film.  Although it's not technically a children's movie, they want kids to see it.

Carole Tomko, the head of Vulcan Productions, believes filmmakers play a growing role in helping solve the global issues of our time.

"If we can really get to people's hearts, really emotionally connect through an issue -- whether it's ivory, whether it's poaching, whether it's climate or ocean health, or even education -- then we have the first step in creating awareness," she said.

Creating awareness is Vulcan Productions' primary goal.

In addition to "Naledi," the company is releasing another new film about elephants, called "Mind of a Giant", which will air on NatGeo WILD on June 19. The film gives more insight into the world of modern elephants. Researchers explore how the gentle giants exhibit empathy, grief, joy, fear and vengefulness.

Another documentary, scheduled for release later this year, will take viewers inside the illegal ivory trade. Vulcan also continues work on an ambitious project called the "Great Elephant Census."

Conservationists are counting every single elephant in 20 countries to document the dwindling elephant populations.

Allen's company is excited what the ban on most ivory sales in the U.S. means for its mission.  But they say the work isn't done until there's a worldwide ban in place to stop the killing of elephants.

"Naledi: A Baby Elephant's Tale" premieres Sunday, June 5 at the Seattle International Film Festival Cinema Egyptian on Capitol Hill.