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NL pacts for pachyderms

'Elephant' walks New Line

New Line’s going to Kenya, launching development of a feature based on the life of Daphne Sheldrick, a pioneer in efforts to save orphaned baby elephants.

New Line’s finalizing a life rights deal with Sheldrick, whose work was the focus of a “60 Minutes” report in April as well as 2005 BBC documentary “Elephant Diaries.” After viewing the telecast, New Line VP Meredith Finn journeyed to Africa in the summer to meet with Sheldrick at the elephant orphanage outside Nairobi.

New Line beat out several other studios for the rights.

Sheldrick was named a dame by Queen Elizabeth II earlier this year for her work — the first such honor to be awarded in Kenya since the country became independent in 1963.

Over the last three decades, Sheldrick has lived and worked in the Nairobi National Park, with her home serving as a nursery for baby elephants. Sheldrick’s work includes creating a formula used as a substitute for elephant milk during the first two years of the pachyderm’s life and training the orphans to be released into Kenya’s Tsavo National Park.

She’s the widow of David Sheldrick, who died in 1977 after working as a leader in the movement against poaching elephants for the ivory from their tusks. After his death, she founded the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, committed to wildlife conservation in Kenya, with a focus on protecting elephants and the black rhino.

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