The Last Animals Foundation 501(c)(3) raises awareness about wildlife trafficking and the collapse of biodiversity to protect animals from extinction and create a more sustainable planet. We support frontline park rangers who are the guardians of critically-important populations of animals in under-resourced ecosystems and focus on on-the-ground conservation in geographical locations that have been plagued by conflict and insecurity. Whether natural or manmade disasters, animals and their guardians need to be protected. By empowering conservation storytellers, we can bring the challenges of animals, ecosystems and rangers to the forefront and help educate the next generation.
During the making of The Last Animals documentary film, 14 children lost their fathers due to an ambush by poachers on rangers and supporting DRC military in Garamba National Park. In that time of grief, the decision was made to establish The Last Animals Foundation; we made a commitment to give back to Garamba’s rangers and families in honor of their noble sacrifice and service. Over the past year we have fundraised for a new education and community center that will benefit the community. “Camp Dungu” is named after the river that runs through Garamba National Park. For every dollar raised by The Last Animals Foundation, the European Union matches those funds. Construction of Camp Dungu is nearly complete and we are now entering Phase II of fundraising.
Garamba National Park (GNP), a UNESCO World Heritage site situated in the northeast corner of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on the border with South Sudan. GNP is surrounded by three main hunting areas known as Domaines de Chasse (DCs). Together, GNP and the three DCs form the Garamba Complex (GC).
In 2005, African Parks Network (APN) took responsibility for the management of the Greater Garamba Complex in partnership with local communities and the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN). The aim of this Public-Private partnership is to restore security to the Park and its communities through intensive and extensive law enforcement, and foster community and stakeholder engagement in areas beyond the Park's borders.
Subsequently, the main efforts of GNP management is to contribute to the protection and enhancement of the unique biodiversity of the Park by strengthening the links between conservation and to increase the economic benefits to the population. Camp Dungu has been established according to GNP’s Sustainable Development strategy to provide enrichment to rangers and their families with skills training and activities, engage with local communities and provide opportunities for these communities to experience the Park first hand. Communities will be able to encounter and connect with the wildlife within the park, as well as be exposed to the organization and purpose of the Park and protected area management. This is important to building pride, understanding and support of the local communities for the Park and its efforts to conserve the vast biodiversity that exists in this region.
The Camp Dungu plans were finalised and local contractor was identified in November 2019. The construction of Camp Dungu commenced December 2019 and the main camp will be completed by the end of September 2020. Within the Sustainable Development strategy, an environmental education programme has been developed to promote environmental education, participation and action of local communities. The PIECE strategy aims to focus on early childhood environmental education as it has been demonstrated that it is most beneficial to introduce conservation values and a love for the environment from an early age.
The camp is equipped with running water and electricity and can accommodate up to 35 people per overnight visit and 50 people per day event. It has a simple and comfortable design, consisting of:
Through our partnerships with the University of Michigan's School of Environment and Sustainability and Encounter Edu, we are expanding and accelerating conservation literacy in classrooms through virtual learning.
Through empowering conservation storytellers, we bring the challenges and needs of animals, ecosystems and rangers to the forefront and help educate the next generation. Our Environmental Justice Storytelling & Impact Grant is open to artists, journalists, writers, photographers and filmmakers undertaking bold and disruptive projects that inspire and elevate critical conservation issues.
The Last Animals song composed by Emmanuel Jal is a tribute to the last Northern Whites rhinos on the planet. ‘Hold My Soul’ is a chant about shame and peace. Proceeds from the songs will be used to help the children and families of fallen rangers. Emmanuel Jal is a Sudanese Canadian actor, hip-hop musician and peace activist who was forced to to be a child soldier by the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) before he was even a teenager.
Rebecca Hardin earned an AB degree in Brown University’s Modern Culture and Media program then an MPhil and PhD in anthropology at Yale. She has taught at the Sorbonne, The National Museum of Natural History in Paris, and at McGill University in Montreal where she retains collaborations with the Center for Indigenous Conservation and Development Alternatives (CICADA). She teaches at the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan where she directs collaborations on www.learngala.com, an open access platform for integrating multimodal digital media, narrative, data visualization and translation of learning modules about sustainability.
Her early field work in the Central African Republic emerged from three years in the Peace Corps, first as a beekeeper in zones bordering northern Cameroon and Chad. She was then an ecotourism design and management specialist who supported—and was supported by--antipoaching guards, interpretive guides and their families at the Dzanga Sangha Dense Forest Reserve bordering Cameroon and Congo Brazzaville. Current collaborations in Africa include sites in South Africa, Kenya, and Gabon, focusing on classroom and field or organizational educational innovation as it links to monitoring and protection of water quality, and of wildlife populations in biodiverse ecosystems.
Kate Brooks is an international photojournalist and filmmaker who chronicled conflict and human rights issues for many years before turning her lens to conservation. Her photographs have been extensively published in TIME, Newsweek, Smithsonian and The New Yorker and exhibited in galleries and museums around the world. In 2010 Brooks' love for filmmaking was sparked while working as a cinematographer on the documentary The Boxing Girls of Kabul. Her introspective collection of essays and photographs, In the Light of Darkness: A Photographer’s Journey After 9/11, was selected as one of the best photography books of 2011. In 2012-13, she was a Knight Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan. There she researched the global wildlife trafficking crisis before embarking on directing her first film The Last Animals. The documentary premiered at Tribeca Film Festival on Earth Day 2017 and was awarded a Disruptor Award. The film has been widely recognized for its ability to disrupt the status quo on policy and change hearts and minds, later winning the Terra Mater Factual Studios Impact Award in consideration with Blue Planet II. Brooks' drive and passion for conservation comes from the fundamental belief that time is running out and that we are at a critical moment in natural history. From her perspective “despite of all the human destruction on the planet, there is still a natural order and it is necessary for us to do everything we can to protect that while we can”. The Last Animals has been distributed through National Geographic, Hulu and Netflix.
Patrick Duboscq has had a passion for animals since childhood that has grown into a career of advocacy and training for the people on the front lines working to protect wildlife. At the age of eight, Patrick helped catalyze public outcry by sending a postcard to President Kenyatta to protest the killing of an elephant targeted by a rich hunter, thereby helping to save that animal's life. This may explain why, after retiring from a thirty-five-year-long career in the French National Police, Patrick began training rangers across Africa in some of the most challenging flood plain, grassland and forest gallery ecosystems including parks in Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Chad. Patrick understands the magnitude of the challenges faced by rangers and their families in areas with limited economic and educational opportunity. Those relationships and his commitment to the men on the frontlines are featured in the film The Last Animals, and have inspired our educational mission, anchored first and foremost in those very sites, and in the relationships of trust required when people put their lives on the line to protect wildlife.
Farwiza Farhan “Wiza” is a passionate forest conservationist working with local communities to protect, conserve and restore the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia. She co-founded and currently serves as the chairperson of Forest, Nature and Environment Aceh Foundation (Yayasan HAkA), a grassroots organisation working to push for better protection of the Leuser Ecosystem through policy and advocacy, community empowerment, as well as habitat protection. She is concurrently writing her PhD dissertation at the Center for International Development Issues Nijmegen, or CIDIN in the Netherlands on political economy of natural resources management in Aceh, Indonesia. Frequently invited to speak, from the UN General Assembly in New York to The Elders in South Africa and Women Deliver in Vancouver, her key note presentations reflect her experience, commitment and passion while connecting the challenges of Sumatra and Aceh to wider global issues and resources.
“Farwiza Farhan is spearheading efforts to protect the Leuser Ecosystem. Her aim is to shift the balance of power to local level, and support people to defend this incredible ecosystem.” –Sir David Attenborough.
Etelle Higonnet earned her BA and JD at Yale University and is Senior Campaign Director at Mighty Earth where she focuses on forest conservation in Southeast Asia and Africa, with an emphasis on the palm oil and rubber industries. Etelle previously worked with Greenpeace Southeast Asia on a broad range of environmental issues including climate, energy, oceans, toxic waste, ecological agriculture, environmental justice, and forest protection. She is also the author of the book Quiet Genocide.
Etelle also has significant experience in human rights, having worked extensively in war zones and post-conflict areas. She conducted research in West Africa on behalf of Human Rights Watch and later Amnesty International, including in the Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. She also oversaw the analysis of human rights research projects in Iraq for the International Human Rights Law Institute. She has served as a human rights research consultant for various organizations, including UNICEF, Open Society, the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, the Royal Cambodian Government Task Force for the Extraordinary Chambers and the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
Jason Mier has proudly served as the Executive Director of Animals Lebanon since the organizations founding in 2008. Animals Lebanon is now the most recognized animal welfare organization in Lebanon and the Middle East and the only organization working on animal welfare in Lebanon. Animals Lebanon drafted the National Animal Protection and Welfare Law that came into full force in 2017 and successfully campaigned for Lebanon to become a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
During his tenor, Jason led an eight-year court battle in Lebanon setting legal precedent that animals have both physical and mental welfare, as well as intrinsic rights and interests, that come before the claims of an owner. The charity has been awarded for the breadth and impact of its work – joining international conventions, fighting the trafficking of endangered species, closing zoos and circuses, rescuing thousands of animals, and responding to tens of thousands of requests for help every year.
Prior to joining Animals Lebanon, Jason worked for ten years throughout Africa, the Middle East and Europe focusing on the rescue and care of chimpanzees and investigating the global trafficking of great apes.
Ken Close was born and raised in the Middle East where he developed a passion for scuba diving in the Red Sea, which was an absolutely pristine ecosystem at the time. Ken comes from a long line of educators, missionaries, and diplomats who have served in the Arab Middle East since the mid-nineteenth century. He is the fourth generation of his family born in Lebanon and the fifth generation to have lived, studied, and worked in the Middle East. While he followed in these footsteps for his vocation by founding a company that specializes in international technology transfer and public-private partnerships, his personal passion has always remained in wildlife conservation and the environment. As a result, he has served on the boards of the Nicholas School of the Environment and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University and now serves on the boards of Lion Watch out of Alldays, South Africa and the American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA). He is also working with the Brazilian government on integrating renewable energy solutions into the country’s remote communities in the Amazon.
Davida is Senior Vice President on the Sustainability & ESG team at Citi. Her work centers on the development and execution of Citi’s environmental and social initiatives including the implementation of Citi’s Sustainable Progress Strategy and leads on Citi’s environmental finance goal initiatives. Davida works closely with internal and external stakeholders to build company-wide awareness of sustainability, ESG and climate change-related trends, opportunities and risks.
Prior to joining Citi, Davida was Head of Member Engagement at The Climate Group, a non-profit organization dedicated to driving action to create a ‘net-zero’ emission global economy, where she worked with Fortune 500 companies on greenhouse gas emissions reduction initiatives. At The Earth Institute at Columbia University, Davida managed corporate relations and oversaw professional development for the institute’s sustainability-related education programs. Previously, she worked in consulting and feature film production and development.