“Our Gorongosa” to be shown at the Smithsonian Earth Optimism Festival in Cambridge, England

Celebrity speakers, leading conservationists, and youth leaders are coming together to deliver stories of hope for our natural world in a free, open-to-all virtual event running from the 26 March to 4 April 2021. 

Led by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative and taking place in conjunction with the Cambridge Festival, Sir David Attenborough, Liz Bonnin and Chris Packham and other leading conservationists will celebrate environmental success stories from around the world. 

Sir David Attenborough said, "We all know that there are great problems but we don’t hear enough of some of the successes. Successes which can give us the courage, information and the inspiration which we need to continue.” 

The festival will screen “Our Gorongosa“ on Saturday, 27 March at 8pm (GMT). In the film, produced by HHMI Tangled Bank Studios and Gorongosa Media, Dominique Gonçalves, a young Mozambican elephant ecologist shares the inspiring story of how Gorongosa National Park is becoming a new model for wildlife conservation and community development in Africa, with a special focus on educating girls and empowering women. 

Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique has become one of the most celebrated wildlife restoration stories in Africa. After a quarter century of civil war and political turmoil wiped out more than 95% of the large mammal population, a decade of renewed protection and careful conservation has brought the park back from the brink. 

But for a national park to thrive in today’s world, protecting the animals is only half the job. Gorongosa has also made a powerful commitment to lifting up the 200,000 people—and in 

particular the girls and women—who live near the park. This is a new vision for conservation in the 21st Century, where people and wildlife can coexist—to the benefit of them all. 

In the film, Dominique Gonçalves shares the many ways Gorongosa is redefining the identity and purpose of an African national park. From her own work mitigating human-elephant conflict, to school programs that empower girls, to remote health clinics for families, Dominique leads viewers on an eye-opening journey that will transform their understanding of what a national park can be. 

The commitment of the incredible women who run these programs—and the resilience of the mothers and girls who are benefiting from them—make for an inspiring story of strength and hope. As Dominique explains, only this virtuous cycle of careful conservation and community development can ensure a positive future for wildlife, people, and planet. 

About Earth Optimism: 

2021 is a pivotal year for biodiversity, with an unprecedented series of meetings of world leaders setting out the conservation agenda for the next decade. Celebrating the conservation wins, as well as learning what individuals can do for the planet, is critical in setting the stage for these discussions. 

Earth Optimism includes talks such as Why Nature Inspires Optimism by award-winning author Helen MacDonald; Lessons from the Dodo: Saving Species and Rebuilding Ecosystems by Carl Jones, a conservationist who has saved more species from extinction than almost anyone else alive; and Stubborn Optimism with Tom Rivett-Carnac, one of the key instigators in the UN’s Paris Climate Accord. 

More than thirty passionate speakers in the Stories of Hope sessions will present compelling accounts of conservation success from the restoration of Wicken Fen to a group of women saving the golden eagle in Mexico, sharks in the waters around the Maldives and the critically endangered Mauritius kestrel. The event will also be hosting a Film Festival with documentaries from across the world. 

In the Importance of the Natural World, TV star and presenter Chris Packham will explain his reasons for being optimistic about the future of nature, and his insights into why the natural world is so important for us all. During Hope for our Planet Liz Bonnin discusses how to solve the planetary crisis with Sir David Attenborough, who will also be answering questions sent in by audiences around the world. 

Running alongside the talks and interviews, the event will include a Solutions Fair, an interactive series of digital activities for all ages. Drop in to discover what you can do to help reduce your carbon footprint, support biodiversity and live more sustainably. Featuring ‘stalls’ from local eco-businesses to international conservation organisations, the Solutions Fair will cover everything from making our gardens wildlife-friendly, and using our pensions to tackle the climate crisis to ways of reconnecting children with the natural world. 

Dr Rosie Trevelyan, director of the Tropical Biology Association and organiser said: “We are shining a light on stories that teach us valuable lessons that can be scaled-up. Earth Optimism offers an invitation to focus on the positive and the potential of nature to recover, while reminding us of our responsibility to do what we can, wherever we are, rather than resigning ourselves to apathy over nature’s fate.” 

You can see a full list of Stories of Hope speakers and Solutions Fair stalls on our website. The entire event is free for the public, but booking is required for the talks. For more information please visit 

About the Gorongosa Project: 

Gorongosa National Park (GNP) in Mozambique is perhaps Africa's greatest wildlife restoration story. In 2008, a 20-year Public-Private Partnership was established for the joint management of GNP between the Government of Mozambique and the Carr Foundation (Gorongosa Restoration Project), a US nonprofit organization. In 2018, the Government of Mozambique signed an extension of the joint management agreement for another 25 years. By adopting a 21st Century conservation model of balancing the needs of wildlife and people, Gorongosa is protecting and saving this beautiful wilderness, returning it to its rightful place as one of Africa’s greatest national parks. 

GNP has been described as one of the most diverse parks on Earth, covering a vast expanse of 400,000 hectares. In recent years, the Gorongosa Project, with the support of Mozambique’s National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC), has ensured the protection of a recovering population of lions in this system, successfully reduced key threats, and has been recognized as one of National Geographic's “Last Wild Places” and by TIME Magazine as one of the “World’s Greatest Places - 2019”.