“MADALA”: the Elephant of hope takes up residence in Maputo

“Madala Vaku Niassa”, the monumental work of a life-size elephant, is the result of artistic talent combined with a passion for nature, a mission to protect and preserve wildlife, and the promotion of peaceful coexistence between man and wild animals.

“Madala”, the life-size elephant made of wool and iron, comes from the Niassa Special Reserve, Mozambique’s largest protected area and one of the last bastions of wildlife in southern Africa. Much of the material comes from poaching. 

The work is covered in a multicoloured skin, knitted from wool, to tell the story of the resilience of the women who made it and the diversity of a luxuriant natural world. It’s a work that will change popular imagination and reconcile man and wildlife.

Paula Ferro, a biologist, and Derek Littleton, director of the Lugenda Foundation and the Luwire concession, both involved in protecting the Niassa Special Reserve, decided to put their artistic talents at the service of the project to build a work of art that also draws attention to the problems of poaching.

These two were joined in 2023 by French sculptor Jules Pennel and more than 50 members of local communities. 

This work of art shows what is at stake in the fight against poaching and to sensitise men and women to the importance of protecting ecosystems and large wild animals.

The aim of “Madala” is to mobilise the men and women of the reserve and enable them to acquire new skills and alternative income opportunities, while at the same time fulfilling the objective of linking art to environmental protection.

The work can be seen in an installation at the Franco-Mozambican Cultural Centre from 4 July until 3 October, when it can be sold to raise funds for an arts and crafts school.

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