April 30, 2018  (Web Review)

Naledi: One Little Elephant

(2017) 55 min. DVD: $24.99 ($54.99 w/PPR). PBS Video (www.teacher.shop.pbs.org). ISBN: 978-1-5317-0347-9.

Reviewer rating: 3.5/4

When a newborn elephant arrives in a Botswana reserve called Abu Camp, a lengthy debate among the staff about what to call her ends with an appropriate choice: Naledi, which means “star.” Indeed, she’s an instant celebrity at Abu, where elephant manager Wellington “Wellie” Jana considers her a daughter and wildlife biologist Dr. Mike Chase is pleased that Naledi’s mother, Kiti, is taking such good care of her. In filmmakers Ben Bowie and Geoff Luck’s PBS-aired Nature documentary, Chase describes the camp as a kind of halfway house for elephants who are left orphaned (more often than not due to poachers), or require rehabilitation after lives spent as zoo or circus animals. The ultimate goal is to release them back into the wild, an outcome that is threatened when Naledi’s initially perfect world comes crashing down with the sudden death of Kiti, leaving Naledi morose, starving, and close to death. The ensuing dramatic efforts to save Naledi’s life (more than once) and reconnect her to her herd turns into a powerful emotional rollercoaster for viewers. Highly recommended. Aud: C, P. (T. Keogh)