Press Release

Nature, Environment and Wildlife Filmmakers (NEWF) and African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) Launch New Mentorship Program to Boost African Conservation Storytelling

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10 African Storytellers will be selected to participate in a Fellowship, each receiving a $7,500 grant to produce a conservation film

JACKSON, Wyo. (September 27, 2023) — Nature, Environment and Wildlife Filmmakers (NEWF) and the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) are excited to launch the African Conservation Voices Producers Lab, made possible with support from Africa Refocused — NEWF’s collaboration with the National Geographic Society. The professional development program was designed for African filmmakers who are dedicated to wildlife conservation. The new Lab will leverage AWF’s expertise as the leading African international conservation organization to elevate African storytellers in global media and conversations about Africa, and ultimately address the need to refocus the stories of Africa — and its wildlife — so they are told by and from the perspective of African people. 

Ten mid-career African filmmakers will be selected to become NEWF Fellows and participate in the Lab, which evolved from a 2021-2022 pilot led by the African Wildlife Foundation and Jackson Wild. Each participant will receive a grant of $7,500 to develop, produce, and distribute short conservation films. 

The nine-month mentorship program combines the reach and perspective of AWF’s conservation policy and field programs with NEWF’s film industry and capacity building experience. Over the course of the program, the Fellows will participate in digital training sessions and four in-person workshops, attend the NEWF Fellows Summit and Congress in February 2024, held in Durban, South Africa and join a Pan-African community of storytellers, filmmakers, scientists and conservationists.

Mid-career filmmakers are invited to submit proposals tied to the following themes: human-wildlife conflict, climate change, the role of Indigenous people and local communities in conservation, counter-wildlife trafficking, species conservation, community resilience, transhumance, the intersection of conservation and development, agricultural solutions that work for nature, and capacity building in the management and protection of protected and conserved areas.

Applications will be accepted from October 2, 2023 to October 15, 2023. With a strong focus on career growth, the callout will be open to existing AWF ACV Fellows, NEWF Fellows and African National Geographic Explorers. Preference will be given to projects in landscapes where the African Wildlife Foundation works, with an emphasis on Tsavo in Kenya, Bili Uele and Maringa-Lopori-Wamba in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Faro and Campo Ma’an in Cameroon, the Mid Zambezi Valley in Zimbabwe and Kilombero in Tanzania, and the Tsavo-Mkomazi cross-boundary landscape between Tanzania and Kenya.

“The goal of our collaboration with NEWF is to expand the reach and impact of African storytellers and we’re thrilled to be able to support this new lab with the African Wildlife Foundation,” said Kaitlin Yarnall, the National Geographic Society’s Chief Storytelling Officer. “This will give ten passionate African storytellers the access and support to share their perspective, talent, and authenticity in stories that they create about the need to preserve their continent’s wildlife and natural habitats.”

Kaddu Sebunya, CEO of the African Wildlife Foundation said, “For conservation to succeed in Africa, it must be seen as relevant to African people. We know the most powerful way to bring conservation into public consciousness is by empowering Africans to tell — and share — our stories. We are delighted to partner with NEWF as a leader in supporting filmmakers as part of AWF's larger African Conservation Voices initiative, which focuses on empowering Africans to understand and own the conservation agenda on our continent.”

Noel Kok, Executive Director of NEWF said, “This partnership with the African Wildlife Foundation, an African-led conservation NGO helmed by the remarkable Kaddu Sebunya, is an opportunity to ensure that storytellers gain access to an important conservation narrative and perspective that they are then able to artistically share with local and global audiences.” 

“Whilst storytelling is at the heart of what we do, conservation is an important pillar that drives us as an organization. We are extremely proud of this collaboration and look forward to welcoming a new cohort of storytellers into our community,” said Pragna Parsotam-Kok, NEWF Executive Director.

>>Learn more about the program

About the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF)

The African Wildlife Foundation is the primary advocate for the protection of wildlife and their habitats as an essential part of a modern and prosperous Africa. Founded in 1961 during the African independence movement to build our capacity to steward our natural resources, AWF articulates a uniquely African vision, bridging science, education, public policy, and field programs to demonstrate the benefits of conservation and build a future for Africa where people and wildlife thrive.

About Nature, Environment and Wildlife Filmmakers (NEWF) and Africa Refocused

Nature, Environment and Wildlife Filmmakers (NEWF) is a community-centric organization that aims to remove barriers to entry, and build capacity for African visual storytellers. Their vision is that the stories of Africa that celebrate and advocate for the protection of her natural history are told by a connected network of visual storytellers organically led by Indigenous African voices. Africa Refocused is a collaboration between NEWF and the National Geographic Society that supports the expansion of NEWF to elevate African storytellers in global media and conversations about Africa, and ultimately address the need to refocus the stories of Africa so they are told by and from the perspective of African people.

For more information, contact:


Wambui Odhiambo (AWF Press Contact)



Ariel Gakunga (AWF program lead)



Marete Selvin (NEWF Program Co-ordinator)