Nothing is more important when working with any non-profit than knowing exactly where your money is going.
You'll find very few charities where 100% of your donations go into the field to help the people, and animals, it's meant to help. We pride ourselves at Animal Avengers in our transparency and lack of administration expenses. We want everyone to see exactly how their dollars are working to save animals and assistant in the anti-poaching efforts in Africa as we speak.
Shannon, The Rhino
Just before Valentine's Day, 2016, I learned of a rhino in Pilanesberg National Park who was a 6 year old female white rhino named Shannon (yes, she and her friend were both named after me). She was shot straight through her left front leg a few weeks prior, but subsequently (without an x-ray machine on the day) must have had some other injury to the bone or weakened muscle around the bone, which later caused a break. A great team of doctors including Saving The Survivors were all working hard to save Shannon. Dr Johan Marais even created the first ever known rhino cast for her leg. If you'd like to read her full story, please check out my blog on her here: http://shanify.com/article/your-help-is-desperately-needed/.
In an effort to support the valiant efforts of Saving The Survivors and the team in Pilanesberg, Animal Avengers made donations to both groups through our Paypal account. Below you will see a screenshot of the payments made. There was a problem with one of them at first. But eventually we got it to go through!
Pilanesberg Wildlife Trust: sent $500
Saving The Survivors: sent $500
Last summer (2015) I did a crowdfunding fundraiser and raised a total of $32,445. I named three organizations as the final recipients of the funds. These organizations were Save African Rhino Foundation, AWARE Trust and Saving The Survivors.
The Save African Rhino Foundation is run by a beautiful soul named Nicholas Duncan. His organizations supports about 20 different groups under his umbrella. He took Charlie and I to Hwange National Park where we were hosted by The Hide and exposed to the work of Friends of Hwange. We met a man named Gary who takes care of all of the water pumps in this specific area of the park for the organization, which was started by a man named Dave Dell and his wife. Gary showed us all of the watering holes and how the drought was very much hurting the animals. The diesel pumps cost a lot to run. But the solar pumps don't pump enough water on their own to supply what is needed everyday for the very thirsty elephants and other animals in the park. We collaborated with Dave Dell and Gary and determined that for the time being, the best solution was to install a solar pump next to the diesel pumps. That way the solar could run during the day and lessen the cost of the pumps for 12 hours. Then the diesel would pick it up in the evenings. This isn't like a house solar system. What they have available in Africa is very different than the technology we may have here. And the amount of water needed is an extremely high volume. So what seems like an obvious solution often isn't as easy as it seems.
The rainy season was on its way, so Dave made the decision not to start drilling for the solar pumps until after the rains ended. But because the drought was so bad and the pumps are very expensive to run, they were having trouble keeping up with the demand. So in the meantime, we bought 5K worth of diesel fuel to help the pumps remain active. We also pulled that money from reserves.
As I sit here writing this to you today, it's March 2016 and the drilling for the additional solar pumps has begun! It costs about 15K all said and done to install a solar pump. Dave is facilitating the installations now. When I was holding my fundraiser I had a friend step up and ask to sponsor a solar pump in his name. He put in 10K because at the time we were told that would be the amount. So I have pulled an additional 5K from our reserves to make up the amount. So as we speak, a solar pump in the name of Greg Polisseni is being installed in Hwange National Park!
Oh, one more thing. When we were in Hwange we spoke to gary about all of the last minute animal rescues he'd had to do. For example, he's had to pull quite a few baby elephants from the mud. When water is scarce, elephants will go into the middle of the mud looking for water with their trunks. The quite often will then get stuck in the mud. Gary, who's technically an electrical engineer and in charge of the water pumps, has had to jump into action and save these animals. We asked if he had anything on camera and he said he didn't have a camera. So we told him we'd get him a GoPro. That way he could strap it on when needed and go. Then you guys would get a better idea of what he, and the animals, go through out there in the bush.
To best facilitate this, Dave Dell's daughter was headed out to visit her family in hwange. So we had her buy a Hero4 GoPro and take it to Gary for us. Then we reimbursed her for the money. This came out to $328.79.
The AWARE Trust was started by Dr. Keith Dutlow and Dr. Lisa Marabini in Zimbabwe. AWARE is the only veterinary conservation trust in Zimbabwe run by veterinarians, focusing on the welfare of wildlife and conservation of wildlife habitats. They run campaigns like free sterilisation and vaccination clinics for animals in poverty stricken areas, donkey clinics, rehabilitation and research, just to name a few. They donate their time and care for Zimbabwe with a deep love of the animals and land.
We not only raised 10K for them to use however it would best serve them, but we also collected many veterinary donations through our Amazon wish lists. I ended up taking at least an overflowing suitcase full of donations with me. Because we had two groups of vets as our recipients, I split up the supplies and presented AWARE with about half of them.
After much consideration, the vets decided they desperately need a couple of elephant tracking collars. These are not easy devises to get I've discovered either. They had to be fitted and made by a company in Germany, then shipped along with all of the appropriate approvals and permits along the way. These collars will allow the vets to keep track of the elephants they are treating in order to continue their veterinary care on them as well as extend their research.
It's been a long road but the collars have finally come in! On October 19th, 2015 we wired $6,928.40 to Global Supplies (see receipt attached). Then on October 21, 2015 there was a Global Supplies Bank Fee we had to pay of $240.10.
Then, on December 18th, 2015 we wired $465.12 for the invoice below, which is part of the collar expenses as well. The rest of what they can spend may be to reimburse a duty fee they had to pay on the collars. I will keep this updated however it gets spent.
And now we're on to Saving The Survivors. Many of you know this group because they worked on the infamous Hope, the rhino. While in South Africa I had the honor of meeting with Dr. Gerhard Steenkamp at his offices at the University of Pretoria. It's there I presented him with all of the wish list donations. I forgot to take a picture of him with everything, but he tweeted a picture afterwards of everything saying thank you to all of the donors.
As far as how they want to spend their 10K, that's still up in the air. I have been exchanging numerous emails with the team there, including Dr. Johan Morais about what they need most. Last I was told, they are locating a fracture kit they'd like for us to buy for them.
Inventory of amazon wish list donations taken to Africa:
10 solar powered flashlights
1 box of small exam gloves (100 ct)
1 Thermo Scientific Cryo Tube Vials (specifically from Silent Heroes for Dr. Jana Pretorius)
2 Masterlocks for camera traps
75 assorted colored wraps to AWARE Trust
75 assorted colored wraps to Saving The Survivors
A bunch of colored wraps were sent from Silent Heroes specifically for Dr. Jana Pretorius
8 packages of casting tape from Silent Heroes for Dr Jana Pretorius
1 box plus 6 rolls of wraps from Silent Heroes for Dr. Jana Pretorius & Saving The Survivors
2 rolls of support foam from Silent Heroes
12 various sized packages of medical honey
4 ulcer guards
6 clotting sponges
8 Bushnell camera traps and 8 sd cards
A small hand-full of donations was waiting for me at home as well. I will be taking those on my next trip along with anything else I'm able to collect between now and then.
SOUTHERN AFRICAN WILDLIFE COLLEGE
While Charlie and I were prepping for the journey through South Africa and Zimbabwe, we were planning our trip from Cape Town with some friends there. One of these friends put us in touch with a company named Dakine. Dakine have very high end backpacks and water packs that we thought would be perfect for the rangers in the field. We knew they needed high end products that wouldn't tear when running through the bush and could withstand all types of weather. So we got on the phone with Dakine and negotiated deals on a bunch of their discontinued bags and water packs.
One of the first people we met up with once in South Africa after our Zimbabwe leg was extreme conservationist, Braam Malherbe. It was Braam's birthday and we knew he had all kinds of interesting stuff planned for us. So once we rented our vehicle in Johannesburg, we filled it up with as many of the bags and water packs as we possibly could and drove for over three hours to the Nelspruit area to meet up with Braam.
The very next day, we transferred all of the donations into the bed of a flatbed truck and drove them to Hoedspruit to the Southern African Wildlife College, where we met Ruben de Kock. We got to meet everyone currently in the college and pass out all of our donations to this very prestigious group. These guys, and girls, literally put their life at risk, even before ever graduating from the college. They are in the field, in the line of fire, in real situations constantly. They are underpaid and often undervalued. These are the people we are depending on to protect our wildlife. So when people ask why we are helping animals and not people, I explain that that is not the case at all. It's all connected. We're all connected. To help the animals is to help the people, and vice versa.
Our friends at Adrenalised diving put everything on their account for us to facilitate the purchase and then we paid them, as the receipt below reflects.
We were introduced to Pit-Track while in South Africa. We were taken to Askari Lodge and they told us all about the anti-poaching team that worked with them. They were soon doing a rhino dehorning and Pit-Track would be the unit in charge of overseeing everything so that there would be no issues with the events of the day. We gave Pit-Track a bunch of the Dakine backpacks we had. It's all we had to offer at the time but wanted to help contribute to the cause at hand.
I was introduced to a man in South Africa named Nico who represents a company called Aqua For Life. http://aqua4life.net/. He also gave me a nice deal (& donation) on buying life straws to filter out impurities in the bush. We figured this would be good for the rangers who have access to water, albeit dirty. So Animal Avengers purchased 100 & Nico donated 100 Life Straws. We weren’t able to get them delivered in time for our trip to Kruger, where we wanted to take them. But we had a connection to someone who lives just outside the park. So we had the straws delivered to her for distribution to the rangers within Kruger. I asked that some pictures be taken once that is done. As soon as I get them, I will share those with you. $20/each - we bought 100 and they donated 100...So we spent $2,000 for 200 straws for the rangers.
This will be an ongoing list of transparencies so that you can always see where your donations are going and how people are benefitting from them! As I edit videos and photos, I'll keep adding more. Then I'll start another page or add to the top of this one when we spend more money and help more people. I always want you to see that your money isn't going into a black hole. It's all being very well documented and ultimately helping to save lives.
Thanks to everyone who supports our causes and beliefs. Our ultimate goals are like everyone's-we have to end this poaching crisis and save these animals from extinction before it's too late. We have no choice. Please join our journey and be an animal avenger with us!