Ep 36: Peter Eastwood – Tanglewood, Koru Camp, and empowering wildlife communities.

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In this episode, I’m talking with Peter Eastwood. Peter is a retired entrepreneur from New Zealand working in conservation in Africa. He was the Founder of Imake a Difference Trust, which has raised funds for and supported many projects across Africa working to put an end to rhino poaching. He is also the founder of Tanglewood Foundation, which supports educational films and documentaries, including the film STROOP, and programs like school camps, the Albany Thicket Biodiversity Restoration Project, Coexistence Gardens, and Koru Camp; an immersive overnight camping experience for South African communities. He strives to live a principled life with purpose, and he is a plant based eater for the planet, animals, and better personal health.

In this conversation, we talk about Peter’s first trip to Africa and his path into conservation. We dive into his desire to make a difference, and the learning journey he went on along the way; from focusing on frontline and anti-poaching work, to shifting toward projects that engage the youth and local communities. We even spend time dissecting the process of bringing a documentary film to life. My favorite part of this conversation was our discussion around Koru Camp, and the impact overnighting in the bush for the first time has on young children and old grandmothers. Peter exudes passion and a boundless drive to make a difference.

Website: tanglewood.org.nz | korucamp.org
Instagram: @tanglewood_foundation | @korucamp
Facebook: @Tanglewood Foundation | @Koru Camp
Twitter: @distillerpete
LinkedIn: @Koru Camp | @Peter Eastwood

Ep 35: Grant Miller, MBE – ZSL, ranger support, trauma care, and a passion for conservation.

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In this episode, I’m talking with Grant Miller, MBE. Grant started his career in the military, and then moved to law enforcement where he worked in customs and border control in the UK predominantly in the area of narcotics trafficking. His last years of service were as the Head of the UK’s National CITES Enforcement Team and Chair of the Interpol wildlife crime working group. He now works as a Law Enforcement Specialist at the Zoological Society of London or ZSL.

In this conversation, we talk about Grant’s begrudging transition from law enforcement narcotics to a role in CITES enforcement, and why he eventually fell in love with it. We go deep into all of the wide ranging conservation and research projects that ZSL is involved in around the world. And we talk at length about the importance and challenges of rangers, spending a lot of time talking about trauma and mental health. So much passion, knowledge, and wisdom in this episode.

Website: zsl.org
Instagram: @officialzsl | @grantmiller69
Facebook: @officialzsl
Twitter: @officialzsl
LinkedIn: @Zoological Society of London (ZSL) | @Grant Miller MBE

Ep 34: Markus Hofmeyr – Rhino Recovery Fund, saving the rhinos, and epic translocations.

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In this episode, I’m talking with Markus Hofmeyr. Markus grew up in South Africa around wildlife. He started his career as a wildlife veterinarian, and at Madikwe Game Reserve he was responsible for the oversight and management of the largest wild mammal translocation to date, called “Operation Phoenix”. Markus was the General Manager of Veterinary Wildlife Services at SANParks, was the Chief Conservation Officer at Great Plains Conservation Foundation and Rhinos without Borders, and is now the Program Officer at Oak Foundation, and the Director of Rhino Recovery Fund.

In this conversation, we talk about the current state of rhino populations around the world and the poaching crisis. We dive into Markus’ early beginnings in conservation, and his in depth knowledge of wildlife translocation. We go deep into what it’s going to take to save the Sumatran rhinos, and he gives his thoughts and advice on working in conservation. If you love rhinos, this is the episode for you.

Website: rhinorecoveryfund.org
Instagram: @krugerwildvet | @rhinorecoveryfund | @oak_foundation
Facebook: @rhinorecoveryfund
Twitter: @rhinorecfund | @oakfnd
LinkedIn: @Oak Foundation

Ep 33: Benson Kanyembo – Protecting Zambia’s wildlife and training the next generation.

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In this episode, I’m talking with Benson Kanyembo. Benson was born in Kitwe, Zambia, the son of a policeman. He has devoted over 20 years of his life to protecting Zambia’s wildlife for future generations. In 1994, Benson started his career in wildlife enforcement as a scout for the North Luangwa Conservation Project (NLCP). From there, he’s worked for multiple organizations holding positions, which included village scout, community scout, and Senior Wildlife Police Officer. In 2009, Benson joined Conservation South Luangwa (CSL) as Operations Manager, and in 2018 was promoted to Law Enforcement Advisor. He now leads all CSL anti-poaching law enforcement and wildlife rescue operations. He has won the 2019 TUSK Wildlife Ranger Award, the 2020 Paradise International Foundation’s African Ranger Awards, and was nominated for Best Game Ranger in the 2020 Rhino Conservation Awards.

Benson is a great man of integrity and purpose, and throughout his career he has faced many challenges including hard physical labor, police corruption, an undeserved prison sentence, constant dangers in the bush, and much more. Through all of this he has managed to keep a mindset of constant growth and a spirit of dedication to the cause. I’m excited for you to learn from his powerful story.

Website: cslzambia.org
Instagram: @bensonkanyembo
Facebook: @Benson Kanyembo
Twitter: @KanyemboBenson
LinkedIn: @Benson Kanyembo

Ep 32: Dr. Timothy Wittig –  Intelligence, terrorist finance, and ending illegal wildlife trade.

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In this episode, I’m talking with Dr. Timothy Wittig. Tim is a conservationist, professor, and former defense intelligence analyst. He is a research fellow at Oxford University (Oxford Martin School), an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London, and Head of Intelligence for both the Royal Foundation’s United for Wildlife Taskforces and the wildlife investigations charity Focused Conservation.

In this conversation, we dive into Tim’s early days growing up around nature in the outskirts of DC, his work that helped redefined the way agencies look at terrorist financing, and how his analysis during his time in Africa lead him into conservation. We talk about the first US National Strategy on Wildlife Trafficking, the early days of the United for Wildlife Taskforces, and the work happening at Focused Conservation to bring wildlife traffickers to justice. So please, enjoy this wide-ranging, in-depth conversation with Tim.

Website: timothywittig.co
Instagram: @unitedforwildlife
Facebook: @FocusedConservation
Twitter: @focusedconserve
LinkedIn: @Timothy Wittig

Ep 31: Leitah Mkhabela – The Black Mambas, and the life of a female anti-poaching ranger.

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In this episode, I’m talking with Leitah Mkhabela. Leitah is a Supervisor and Media Officer for the Black Mambas. Founded in 2013 by Craig Spencer of Transfrontier Africa, the Black Mambas are South Africa’s first all female anti-poaching unit. They operate on the front lines of the Balule coalition of private game reserves on the western border of Kruger National Park. Leitah started her career as a Black Mamba in 2014. In 2020, she received a Ranger of the Year award by The International Paradise Foundation in China.

In this conversation, we talk about Leitah’s blossoming love for wildlife as a teen, her decision to become a ranger for the Black Mambas, and the challenges she faced from society as a woman going into this field. Leitah dives into her growth as a ranger, the dangers rangers face in the field, and the reasons the Black Mambas patrol in the bush unarmed. We go into depth on the role of a ranger, community engagement, and advice for women in conservation. We even talk about our dear friend, Leitah’s cousin, the late Anton Mzimba of the Timbavati—how he motivated Leitah and what it means to pick up the torch and continue his work.

Website: transfrontierafrica/the-black-mambas
Instagram: @theblackmambas
Facebook: @blackmambasapu
Twitter: @blackmambasapu
LinkedIn: @Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit

Ep 30: Charlie Mayhew, MBE – Founding Tusk, Wildlife Ranger Challenge, and Massive Impact.

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In this episode, I’m talking with Charlie Mayhew, MBE. Charlie is the Co-Founder and CEO of Tusk Trust. Their mission is to amplify the impact of progressive conservation initiatives across Africa. Charlie was educated at Wellington College, worked as a Lloyd’s Marine Insurance Broker while moonlighting as a DJ, is a Fellow of The Royal Geographical Society, and was awarded an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) by Her Majesty The Queen. In 1990 he co-founded the charity, Tusk Trust, and under his stewardship it has since grown into a highly reputable and efficient UK conservation charity.

In this conversation we dive into Charlie’s path into conservation, including a 1985 expedition he led across Africa, and the film he co-produced which led to the foundations of Tusk. We take a winding path through all of the various organizations Tusk supports across Africa, dig into their ethos, and talk about the power of ambassadors including Tusk’s Royal Patron, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. And of course we explore the importance of rangers, and the amazing support for them through Tusk’s Wildlife Ranger Challenge and the Tusk Awards. Charlie has a captivating life story, and with over £100m raised since its inception, Tusk has had and continues to have massive impact on conservation and community development programs.

Website: tusk.org
Instagram: @charlie_mayhew | @tusk_org
Facebook: @tusk.org
Twitter: @MayhewCharlie | @tusk_org
LinkedIn: @Charlie Mayhew, MBE | @Tusk

Ep 29: Nick Ahlers – TRAFFIC: Ensuring the trade of wildlife is not a threat to nature.

In this episode, I’m talking with Nick Ahlers. Over the last 20 years, Nick has managed a wide variety of sustainable development projects across Southern Africa. He joined TRAFFIC nearly 10 years ago and has held many positions there along with his most recent promotion to Director of Development. TRAFFIC’s mission is to ensure that the trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature. Its evidence-based approaches provide guidance and tailored technical expertise to a range of stakeholders across governments, specialized law enforcement, donors, policymakers, private sector companies, academia and beyond. Nick is based in South Africa and holds degrees in International Development Studies, Environmental Studies, African Studies with a focus on Medical Anthropology, and a MSc in Environment and Development from the London School of Economics.

In this conversation, we dig into Nick’s early curiosity and passion for the environment, his path into conservation which took him from Maine to South Africa, and how his career brought him to TRAFFIC. We dive into TRAFFIC as an organization and the work being done there. We go deep into the rhino horn trade and talk through the ramifications of legalizing it. We also talk about findings from prisoner interviews in relation to illegal wildlife trade. Nick has a wonderful ability to turn data and research into understandable concepts.

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Website: traffic.org
Instagram: @traffic_wltrade
Facebook: @trafficnetwork
Twitter: @TRAFFIC_WLTrade
LinkedIn: @TRAFFIC International

Ep 28: Damien Mander – IAPF, Akashinga, and LEAD Ranger: Finding purpose after the military.

In this episode, I’m talking with Damien Mander. Damien is the Founder and CEO of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF), which delivers ecological stability and long-term protection of large-scale wilderness landscapes by supporting and empowering local communities. Damien is the winner of the 2019 Winsome Constance Kindness Gold Medal. He was featured in the James Cameron documentaries “The Game Changers” and National Geographic’s “Akashinga – The Brave One’s’” about his work with the women of Akashinga. His TEDx talk at the Sydney Oprah House on speciesism has been translated into 27 languages. He is a resident on the National Geographic Live Speakers Bureau, has lectured at the UN, Harvard University, featured in June 2019’s National Geographic Magazine, three times on 60 Minutes and recognized by the Dutch Government as a Gender Champion.

In this conversation, we talk about Damien’s path from soldier to ranger trainer—his misconceptions when starting out in conservation, and the learning process that followed. We talk about the beginnings of IAPF and what it’s grown into today. We dive into Akashinga and LEAD Ranger, discuss public speaking and the power of storytelling, and go deep on the meaning and power of purpose and commitment. So much to take away from this one. So without further ado, here is Damien Mander.

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Website: iapf.org
Instagram: @int.anti.poaching.foundation
Facebook: @iapf.org
Twitter: @IAPF
LinkedIn: @International Anti-Poaching Foundation

Ep 27: Olivia Swaak-Goldman – Wildlife Justice Commission’s Rhino Horn Threat Assessment.

In this episode, I’m talking with Olivia Swaak-Goldman. Olivia is currently the Executive Director of the Wildlife Justice Commission, whose mission is to disrupt and help dismantle the transnational criminal networks trading in wildlife, timber, and fish, by collecting evidence and turning it into accountability. Olivia has 26 years of experience in international justice and diplomacy, has published extensively on issues of international criminal law and international humanitarian law, and served as a lecturer at both Harvard and Leiden Universities.

This conversation is slightly different from the norm. We do dig into the path that brought Olivia to the WJC, and we take a quick overview of the work being done there, but the majority of this talk concerns WJC’s recent release of their Global Threat Assessment on Rhino horn trafficking as a form of transnational organized crime, which covers intelligence and data analysis from 2012–2021. We really go deep on everything from the demand for and value of rhino horn, the supply chain from poacher to retail seller, the impact of looking at the rhino horn trade as a transnational organized crime problem versus as a conservation problem, the impact COVID has had on the trade, why law enforcement and government agencies need to collaborate across borders, and so much more. We hope that this is a valuable introduction to this threat assessment. And if you’re curious, please visit the Wildlife Justice Commissions website and download the entire 111 page document.

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The Full Rhino Report
Website: wildlifejustice.org
Instagram: @oliviawjc
Facebook: @WildlifeJusticeCommission
Twitter: @WJCommission
LinkedIn: @Wildlife Justice Commission