One of the very treasured relationships we have at Nsefu Wildlife is with our friend Mike Veale, Founder of Global Conservation Force...a non-profit that helps fight the poaching crisis going on around the world. We took a few moments with Mike and asked him about his work and Global Conservation Force.
1. Mike, tell us a little about your background and your work with the San Diego Safari Park.
I’m a senior mammal keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and I've been working in professional Wildlife conservation for 12 years. At the park I work with African Mammals Rhino, giraffe, cape buffalo eland, sable, springbok and several other species in the large mixed species habitat areas. In the past I've worked with carnivores and primates as well. For me its Africa at home because the animals behave in the same way the do in the wild, yet the everyday person has the opportunity to connect with the wildlife. Rhinos are my favorite large mammal and I've been lucky enough to work with 3 of the 5 (White, Black & Greater One Horn Rhino) rhino species including two of the last Northern White Rhino Angelifu and Nola.
2. How and when did you discover your passion for wildlife and your passion for protecting wildlife?
I've had a passion for wildlife practically since day one. I have pictures from my parents where I'm catching lizards, snakes and frogs just shortly after learning how to walk. I grew up surfing, diving, camping, back packing and rock climbing always wanting to be outside and near wildlife. As soon as I hit high school I was starting to volunteer with hands on wildlife projects working towards my current position. As time went on I got into more and more projects, collaborations, care taking and field positions and eventually started working at the Wild Animal Park (Now the Safari Park).
3. Global Conservation Force is an amazing non-profit that goes after the poaching crisis from a different angle in that you SUPPORT rangers and programs in Africa and around the world. What inspired you to create GCF and how are things going?
As the current poaching crisis started to rise I took a long leave of absence from the Safari Park and went to South Africa to go through the training to become an anti-poaching ranger in the heart of the rhino war, the Kruger national park. This was a goal of mine but I expedited it while I was watching the rhino death toll rise. I was also one of the primary care takers for Angelifu and Nola ( Northern White Rhinos) and knew that I was staring extinction in the face. This drove me crazy and I couldn't sit still on it. After completing my 6 weeks of boot camp, I went on to patrol, helped formed the first tactical unit in the greater Kruger region and was living the rhino war first hand. I saw that many Non-Profits claimed to be helping in this situation but they were nowhere to be found and not one ranger had seen anything from those non-profits. This really bothered me because I saw several simple solutions.
Rangers are the front line and almost all are from the local community. If you support the people in the fight they can protect all the wildlife, people and habitat that they are stationed at. With proper gear, advanced training, and consistent pay they are able to efficiently deal with poachers. I was lucky enough to go through very serious training and have several years of combat related training in weapons and various martial arts going into training. Our tactical unit is extremely effective and catches poachers on the regular. I noticed that the regular rangers were calling us in all the time though. So my solution was elevate the standard of training to have one massive “tactical unit”. A couple years down the line now and many units have stabilized their crisis zone.
As a non-profit we also work with community development and education project abroad, field conservation projects like rhino relocations and the giraffe census. There is no “one” solution so it is important to approach the crisis on multiple levels. Hold the shield for wildlife, reduce the demand, then build up the local community so there is a future for them and the wildlife.
4. Being a relatively new non-profit, how do you support your programs that provide equipment, training, and gear for other organizations?
We fund raise in multiple way to keep our projects alive and are lucky to have many dedicated donors who back us as well.
We have a full merchandise line and a conservation beer line as part of a partnership with Pacific Plate Brewery in LA and we receive a donation with every pour. Our beers are White Rhino IPA, Earth Shaker Stout (Elephant), Tall Blonde Hefeweizen (Giraffe) and a Pangolin American White.
We have a fundraiser series called Brews For APUs (Anti-poaching units) where we pair local food, art and our international team with local breweries to raise funds and awareness.
Then at the end of the year we host our more formal Gala.
5. If someone wants to learn more about your organization, how do they go about it?
For more info please go to our website at www.globalconservationforce.org
our Facebook www.facebook.com/RhinosGCF
or our Instagram @GlobalConservationForce
We are more than thrilled to have partnered with Nsefu to obtain our mutual goals of keeping rangers, local communities and the wildlife safe for future generations to enjoy.
Thanks Mike, we at Nsefu Wildlife are thrilled with our partnership with your amazing organization and here is to a long partnership saving wildlife!