RUTH GANESH

ELEPHANT FAMILY

JOIN THE COEXISTENCE TOUR

WORLD ELEPHANT DAY

Photos: Elephant Family; Annette Bonnier
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Wildlife conservation organizations driven to protect and promote awareness of the planet’s most vulnerable and endangered species are critical in the fight against extinction. Being a voice to those who have none is an art that requires limitless compassion, relentless creativity and unwavering determination.

Meet Ruth Ganesh – Principal Trustee of the charity Elephant Family, the UK’s biggest fundraising effort for the endangered Asian elephant.

Photo: Ruth Ganesh; Ruth Powers

THE PLIGHT OF THE ASIAN ELEPHANT

In honor of World Elephant Day this August 12th, Ganesh and the entire team at Elephant Family urge us to get behind the most enormous, curious-looking, awe-inspiring, majestic and arguably the most intelligent animal alive today.

Elephants are endangered across Asia, with only an estimated 40,000 remaining in the wild – a 60% decline over three generations. Asian elephants live across a vast range of 13 countries, from India to Indonesia, yet their global population of 30,000-50,000 is barely 10% of their African cousins. While all elephants face the threats of habitat loss, conflict with people and poaching for ivory, Asian elephants are also threatened by illicit live trade for the entertainment industry and, most recently, by poaching for the illegal trade of their skins.

Photo: Herd that dust together, stay together; Ganesh Raghunathan

WHO IS RUTH GANESH?

Ruth Ganesh is a trustee and co-founder of Elephant Family, a charity that exists to save the iconic Asian elephant from extinction. She assumed the job in 2010 after starting with the NGO in 2004, working alongside its late founder and legendary conservationist Mark Shand (he was the brother of Duchess of Cornwall Camilla Parker Bowles, who with her husband Prince Charles are the charity’s joint “royal presidents”).

Ganesh joined forces with Shand in 2004 and has been at the forefront of the charity’s conservation successes ever since. Since 2004 she has raised millions for the endangered Asian elephant, its habitat and the people who share it. She has further expanded Elephant Family’s global reach by pioneering brand new and innovative ways of fundraising, breaking world records whilst doing so. Ganesh currently divides her time between Elephant Family UK and USA, as well as the organization’s projects throughout Asia. Her specialty is conceptualizing major public art events, which have raised over $10 million for conservation thus far.

Photo: Ruth Ganesh, Artist, Colleague; Michael Turek

WHAT IS ELEPHANT FAMILY?

For Ganesh and everyone at Elephant Family, protection of the Asian elephants’ rapidly shrinking habitat due to economic development is the number one concern. The organization’s mission is to power solutions that prevent conflict between humans and elephants, demonstrating how the two species can co-exist. That means working to create safe homes for both elephants and people by reconnecting forest fragments, maintaining elephant migratory routes and helping farmers protect their crops and homes.

Photo: Ganesh of NCF monitoring elephants walking through the tea bushes in Valparai; Kalyan Varma

While elephant ivory remains the most valuable part of an elephant, the growing demand for elephant skin and other parts continues to drive up the demand. Elephant Family has been investigating the illegal trade in Asian elephants since 2014, through research, analysis and field investigations. Initially monitoring live trade, the organization was alarmed to discover a marked increase in poaching in Myanmar, where in 2017 a herd of 25 elephant carcasses, including calves, was found stripped of their skin. 

Ganesh’s latest large campaign – Coexistence – involves a herd of 100 life-sized elephants touring the Globe including the UK in 2020 and the United States 2021. Working with The Real Elephant Collective, a South Indian conservation-led organization, Elephant Family has employed a team of over 70 tribal artisans to create the sculptures, each one based on an elephant that lives in the area. The sculptures are made from the toxic, invasive weed Lantana camara – clearing the forest of it to make the herd conserves vital elephant habitat.

Photo: Latana Elephant Herd; The Real Elephant Collective

As well as supporting Coexistence by visiting the herd as it is displayed, you can buy a sculpture ($6,000-$39,000) or sign up to The Matriarch Club – booking themselves a place to join us on a leg of the tour in the USA. The elephants are almost ready to take their first steps on a life changing journey across the globe as part of a female led campaign which will raise $10m for human wildlife co-existence projects globally and put the issue of human-wildlife-conflict on the map.

In honor of World Elephant Day on August 12, please consider making a donation to Elephant Family. Visit www.elephant-family.com.

For more information on joining the Coexistence Tour or adopting an elephant, please visit https://www.coexistencetour.org/

Additional Photos: Ganesh Raghunathan; Compass Films; Stuart Dunn

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EVERY RANGER COUNTS

DAVID SHEPHERD WILDLIFE FOUNDATION

SUPPORT DSWF WILDLIFE RANGERS

PHOTOS: DAVID SHEPARD WILDLIFE FOUNDATION
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As the life support of conservation efforts across the world, wildlife rangers keep some of the planet’s most vulnerable and endangered species alive through tireless dedication and hard work against often-terrifying odds.

The illegal wildlife trade has become the world’s fourth-most profitable criminal trafficking enterprise, generating revenues of up to $17bn a year. The demand for wildlife products for luxury or ornamental trinkets, or for bogus medical “cures,” is the primary threat to the survival of some of the world’s most iconic species, including tigers, rhinos, elephants, pangolins and many more.

The role of a wildlife ranger is vital if we are to win this war.

Photo: The world’s most trafficked mammal is the pangolin

“Rangers are the eyes, ears and heart of the bush and are often the only hope that stands between species survival and the sixth mass extinction.  Without rangers, there is no hope for critically endangered species or in the ongoing and brutal fight against wildlife crime,” shares Georgina.

Meet Mr. Mulimo, a key leader who works in a special anti-poaching unit in Africa, and Georgina Lamb, Head of Programs and Policy at David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF), a wildlife conservation charity who funds special anti-poaching units and is fighting wildlife crime on multiple fronts – and continents.

Acknowledging the scale, professionalism and growth of organized crime and the devastating impacts it wreaks on the environment, DSWF has long adopted a team approach, encouraging and funding greater collaborative efforts between multifaceted law enforcement agencies. Operating across Africa and Asia, the organization has invested in conservation projects from the mountains of Mongolia, to the forests of Russia and Thailand and across the wild plains of Africa.

Photo: Cycling for Rangers; Theo Bromfield; DSWF

 “Rangers are brave men and women who put their lives at risk every day, operating at the front line of wildlife conflict, stopping the brutal and devastating impacts of environmental crime,” shares Georgina.

Rangers defend wildlife and the communities that live and surround protected areas and habitats by deploying a range of highly varied skills and activities, from anti-poaching patrols and undercover sting operations, to locating and removing snares, the silent killer of the bush. In addition to collecting vital research material and monitoring wildlife populations, they respond to human-wildlife conflicts to mitigate often-dangerous situations for both human and animal. 

The fight is hard and often unfair. Operating in some the world’s most hostile landscapes, wildlife rangers are often under-supported by deprived wildlife departments and have little in the way of counter strategies. These become tough disadvantages as they come face-to-face with the extremely well-funded and organized criminal syndicates that fuel wildlife crime. Too often in the news we hear of one-sided sophisticated gun fights and helicopter raids in which poachers and trafficking gangs take on brave wildlife rangers with limited resources who sometimes have only ever fired six bullets in training.

Photo: Cycling for Rangers; Theo Bromfield; DSWF

 “On the black market, rhino horn is often worth more than cocaine and gold. That means for every 200 elephants brutally slaughtered, one ranger will lose his or her life in the fight to protect them,” explains Georgina.

Despite the dangers, brave men and women continue to sign up to protect what they love and respect. Rangers don’t want to see wild animals captured and put into cages in zoos in wholly unsuitable climates as the only means of their future survival; instead they fight for the belief that one day we will be able to live in harmony with wildlife and not see it as a commodity to be sold and traded to the highest bidder.

DSWF needs help to ensure that the species we all love and the humans protecting them are better supported. Ground-based conservation projects require significant effort, funds and co-ordination to have a positive impact employing many people with diverse jobs and skillsets.

Photo: Cycling for Rangers; Theo Bromfield; DSWF

“Ever since my childhood, I have always worked with natural resources. The way I look at things, if the animals are not protected, they’ll be finished. The way it is now, one scout on the ground combating poaching covers about 120km2. The area is just too vast for one person. We need to employ more scouts, reduce the area coverage per scout and then we stand a chance. These animals are vital. They should be given a chance to live,” states Neddy Mulimo.

To donate or learn more about the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation and its Wildlife Rangers appeal, please visit https://davidshepherd.org/every-ranger-counts

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TY M. CARTER

TY M. CARTER MOH

TEXAS SENTINELS FOUNDATION

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Military service is a time-honored way to put others’ safety and well-being before one’s own. At the American Revel Traveler, we understand that our ability to roam free begins with active-duty and retired military, and their families, who choose to serve and sacrifice – in the United States and around the world. We are forever grateful. 

Meet Ty M. Carter. 

In 2013 at the age of 30, Staff Sgt. Ty Michael Carter became the fifth living Medal of Honor recipient since the War in Vietnam. It is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States.


Photo: Ty M. Carter

Our nation’s highest-ranking military officials have described Specialist Carter’s service to his country as including great acts of courage and skill; his actions define what it means to be a true American hero. Now retired with disabled status, Ty continues to earn his reputation as an unstoppable force. Sure, he’s attractive and articulate, but more importantly, he’s magnetic.

Whether engaged in a public speaking gig or consulting on set, Ty enters the room like an apex predator at the watering hole: deliberate and almost undetectable. Soon enough, his powerful presence commands attention and respect; sharing gripping moments filled with precision, adrenaline, and heartache, he demonstrates the real courage he is known for – not in the past, but right here, right now.


Photo: Ty M. Carter 

The October 3, 2009, attack on Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division in Afghanistan is as horrific as it gets. Just check out Netflix, which documents each of the eight losses suffered in that vicious ambush in Episode 8 of its original series Medal of Honor. It is clear that the unit went through hell and back and then some. Each solider in the unit acted bravely and in sync during that horrific firefight; the difference between living and dying that day seems largely inexplicable and random. Far from emerging unscathed, Ty’s efforts that day left him with shrapnel wounds, hearing loss, and posttraumatic stress disorder. His actions earned him the Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart.


Photo: Ty M. Carter 

Ty is blessed, and burdened, to be the one who was chosen to live, and relive, this day continuously. Whereas Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day includes countless chances to go back in time and “do” the same day over again until perfected, Ty shares his worst day over and over in order to educate the public and help others who have served heal. This requires unparalleled personal strength and a mastering of an internal battle, wrought with haunting images, pain, and the weight of the world, all managed by sheer mental strength and a few strategic sips of water than serve to mask an occasional moment overcome by emotion.

Not strictly a soldier’s problem, post-traumatic stress affects police officers, firefighters, first responders, and anyone who has survived traumatic events and experiences, at home and abroad.

In 2018 Ty M. Carter became the proud owner of a brand-new donated house. The house, given to Carter debt-free from the Texas Sentinels Foundation, sits on 10 acres in rural Bastrop, about 40 miles east of Austin. Today Ty is loving evolving as amateur gun builder, apprentice shiner, and homeowner. The Texas Sentinels Foundation believes that through the personal sacrifice and heroic dedication of American Soldiers, freedom and security is available to all Americans.


Photo: Ty M. Carter

One of the core values of the Foundation includes providing debt-free housing to remove the burden and allow wounded military veterans to focus on recovery. For Ty, it is clear this gift continues to support healing and happiness. Shares Ty, “There is no better place on earth to play with my dog, shoot and build guns, and spend time with people I care about.”

To learn more about Ty M. Carter and the Medal of Honor, check-out Episode 8 of the Netflix Original,  Medal of Honor or visit theaters this fall. Having lent his expertise as a Military Advisor to Millennium Studios on their upcoming feature film The Outpost, we are looking forward to seeing the film hitting theaters this October.

Sources and Photos: Many thanks to Ty M. Carter

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At the most basic level, a guide is a person who advises or shows the way to others. In practice, however, being a guide is more than a profession; it is an art that requires creativity, enthusiasm, love for all living things and a lot of patience. To the best of the best out there (you know who you are), the American Revel Traveler says thank you!

Meet GodBless Mamuya.

“Isn’t that enormous heard of elephants a little close?” I asked my guide. In his kind and reassuring way, GodBless whispered back, “We respect the animals and so they will respect you.”

As with any profession, safari guides bring their individual strengths, personality and style to the job. Of course, it begins with enhanced knowledge of wildlife, habitat and everything that falls under that, including conservation, behavior and so much more. And guiding includes the need for exceptional people skills in order to understand the dynamics of dealing with different guests and managing their individual needs and expectations. An exceptional guide doesn’t just find wildlife; he/she makes the moments leading up to the encounter effortless, interesting and enjoyable.

GodBless fits the bill as a world-class specialist who knows his trade, understands the landscape, enjoys people and is proficient at every aspect of his job. Having attended tourism college in Arusha, his native city, GodBless first began his extensive training in tourism and hospitality with Africa’s premier luxury outfit, the Elewana Collection, nearly five years ago.


Photo: Corry Cook

The origin of the name Elewana is the Swahili word meaning “harmony”, a concept that perfectly embodies GodBless, and I will always remember his kindness and wisdom as he guided me and my fellow travelers through Tarangire National Park during a recent stay at the Elewana Collection’s Tarangire Treetops luxury property. During one of our many effortless conversations, he passionately described how Elewana’s Life & Land Foundation is the company’s commitment to responsible tourism, ensuring future generations can enjoy the wonders of Africa and safari adventure.

With the support from The Life & Land Foundation, Honey Guide Foundation manages the Program which focuses on reducing human-elephant conflict through methods of crop protection for local landowners in the Randilen Wildlife Management Area of Tanzania. Elephants frequently leave Randilen and Tarangire National Park to raid crops grown in the villages north of Randilen. This risks not only the livelihoods of local farmers, but also the lives of the elephants themselves, as people often target them with spears to protect their crops. This often creates a negative attitude towards wildlife and conservation among the villagers hence the necessity for a Human-Elephant Conflict Mitigation Program.

As part of the Program, Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC) Toolkits are provided for farmers to deter elephants from raiding. GodBless’ knowledge and care for his surroundings and the wildlife in Tarangire actually inspired me to make a donation, in the form of a badly needed Elephant Horn, one of five key interventions in the HEC Toolkit used to redirect elephants, thus protecting crops and reducing conflict. The horn humanely encourages the majestic animals to turn a different direction, removing them from harm’s way.

Photo: Corry Cook

I learned so much from GodBless, but I know I only scratched the surface of this man who is so committed to his profession, his surroundings and the future of our planet.

The American Revel: Your name is very special. Where did it come from?

GodBless: My full name is GodBless Mamuya. It is a name that came from my grandfather. Before he died, he told me that he chose his name for me because it means, “the one who will come help people.”

TAR: Why did you become a Driving Guide?

GodBless: The bush is my office! I couldn’t think of a better place to spend my working day than at Treetops and in Tarangire National Park. I enjoy sharing my knowledge of nature and animals with visitors from all over the world. And I get to show them my beautiful country. I am very passionate about the wildlife and conserving the environment that we live and work in. Helping in any way to make sure humans and animals can coexist successfully is very important to me. 

TAR: What do you love about Tarangire National Park?

GodBless: The management of the Tarangire National Park is amazing. I am inspired by the dedication of everyone involved in the protection of our wildlife and the enjoyment of our guests. The park is famous for its huge number of elephants, baobab trees and tree-climbing lions. Making a donation to the Land & Life Foundation for equipment and people to support the coexistence of the communities and the wildlife is always welcome.

TAR: When I visit your native Arusha, what should I do?

GodBless: When you visit Arusha, you might go to a small restaurant called Fifi. It has the best hot chocolate.

TAR: What would you like people to know who haven’t been to Tanzania before?

GodBless: Tanzania is a peaceful country with a diverse ecosystem, rich cultures, wildlife, beautiful scenery and warm, welcoming citizens. Warm during the day and cool at night, Tarangire Treetops is the most marvelous place to enjoy and get a good night’s rest on the planet – at least so our guests tell me!

TAR: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

GodBless: I have always wanted to visit New York. After that, I’d see Dubai so I could see the Skyscrapers in person.  

Produced by Corry Cook
Sources and Photos: Many thanks to: the Elewana Collection; The Life & Land Foundation.

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