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Wildlife Film Festival

The 9th Annual International Wildlife Film Festival Tour continues its six-week run at 7 pm on Friday, March 13 at the Ukiah Civic Center at 300 Seminary Avenue with two films, "Spirit Creatures -- Niassa's Invisible Realm" and "Raccoon Nation, Part 2." "Spirit Creatures -- Niassa's Invisible Realm" (48 min.) tells the story of Dr. Colleen and Keith Begg as they study both the people and the wildlife that inhabit the Niassa National Reserve in northern Mozambique. Covering more than 16,000 square miles, the reserve is the size of a small country and is one of Africa's least known wildernesses. It is home to 1,000 lions and 14,000 elephants, over 400 bird species, and large populations of Cape buffalo, impala, wildebeest, zebra, and leopards. The Cyao people who live inside the protected area both revere and struggle against wildlife on a daily basis. To help them cope, they regularly call on their ancestral spirits, some of whom are embodied in animals. This invisible realm called "Majini" greatly influences how people think and act. "Spirit Creatures" documents the Beggs' journey to gain a deeper understanding of the people's spiritual relationships with wildlife inside the Niassa Reserve. As Niassa faces greater pressure on its wildlife and resources, the Beggs realize that, in order to become effective conservationists, they must understand the local culture as well as the important role that spiritual beliefs gain in conservation. Parental discretion is recommended.

Also playing is "Raccoon Nation, Part 2" (20 min.). "Raccoon Nation" follows scientists from around the world as they share their thoughts and work to explore an interesting scientific question: Are human beings, in an effort to outwit raccoons, actually helping to make them smarter and unwittingly contributing to their evolutionary success?

The evening begins at 6:15 pm with live Celtic and contemporary acoustic music by Bob Laughton. The films begin at 7 pm.The Wildlife Film Festival will play on consecutive Fridays through March 27. Tickets are available at the Mendocino Book Company and at the door for a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $5 for children Proceeds from the film festival are an important funding source for the Redwood Valley Outdoor Education Project (RVOEP), a special program of the Ukiah Unified School District that provides outdoor environmental education program to over 2,000 students a year. For a full program of the film series and more information about the RVOEP visit its website, To find out more about RVOEP, contact Maureen Taylor, Education Coordinator, at 489-0227.

— Roberta Werdinger

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