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Angelina Jolie to direct Richard Leakey biopic on ivory poaching

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MUMBAI: Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie is all set to direct a new film, a biopic of Kenyan politician and conservationist Richard Leakey and his battle to save the elephants of Kenya from the illegal ivory trade.

Titled Africa, the story has been penned by the Forest Gump screenwriter Eric Roth. It will focus on Leakey’s fight against ivory poachers in the 1980s when he was the head of the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS).

Leakey, who is the son of the famous anthropologists Louis and Mary Leakey, is the former head of the Kenya Wildlife Service, and is known for taking a hardline stance against the country's poachers. Working with Kenya's then-President, Daniel Arap Moi, Leakey spearheaded the creation of armed anti-poaching units. During his time as the KWS chairman he ordered rangers to shoot any poachers they found.

He made international headlines in 1989, after a stockpile of 12 tonnes of ivory, worth an estimated three million dollars, was burned in Nairobi National Park.

In recent years, Leakey has continued to campaign against the slaughter of African wildlife, founding the charitable organisation ‘WildlifeDirect’, which provides support to conservationists working in Africa.

Africa will be produced by Jolie, Man of Steel‘s Jon Peters and Skydance Productions. The cinematographer for the movie is Roger Deakins, an eleven-time Oscar nominee known for the Coen brothers' No Country For Old Men.

Africa would be Jolie's fourth film as a director, following 2011's In the Land of Blood and Honey, a romance set during the Bosnian War, Unbroken, the story of the Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini, which is due in theaters on Christmas Day and her latest movie By the Sea. Jolie serves as writer-director and star alongside her husband, Brad Pitt in the movie which is slated for a 2015 release.

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