Churchill, Yellowstone & Jackson Hole Big Cat Summit

2017 has been a very busy year for in addition to MKF’s various activities and our conservation related trips, it is also this year that Steppenwolf celebrates its 50th Anniversary. Yes, it was that many years ago that 5 young guys formed a band that still performs, albeit at this point primarily to keep this foundation funded. The highlight of this celebration took place in August at the fabled Ryman Auditorium in Nashville TN. Steppenwolf loyalists from across North America & Europe came to be part of this commemorative and memorable concert.

But despite some extra ‘Wolf’ performances this year, we managed to travel to new destinations and make the acquaintance of some dedicated and inspiring people. In search of the Northern Lights we made our way to Churchill Manitoba in February and were not disappointed, for we saw some spectacular displays. But Churchill is of course known for the Polar Bears that wait in early Winter for Hudson Bay to freeze, so they can roam the ice to hunt for Seals. In the Summer the Bay is home to Beluga Whales and visitors by the hundreds come each year to see the Bears and Whales. Unfortunately, the rail line from Winnipeg to Churchill, the indispensable life line for this town – there are no highways to Churchill -  has stopped operating and is in danger of being abandoned with no solution offered so far. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the line will be rescued and operations restored so that Churchill may survive and continue to show its living treasures to those who care to learn about these iconic but threatened animals.

Not very long after returning from the frozen north we made the acquaintance of Will Travers of the Born Free Foundation: and learned more about its continuing efforts and campaigns to preserve and protect wildlife around the world. Not surprisingly we found that we were very much of one mind regarding this endless battle.

After a couple of Wolf play dates in early May, we joined some fellow NRDC supporters for a few days of hiking in Yellowstone Nat. Park. We had been invited by Joel Reynolds (NRDC’s Western Director, co-author of “War of the Whales” and participant in the award winning film “Sonic Sea” ) to stay at the nearby B Bar Ranch with the other participants in this special event. We were in excellent company and learned much – after our daily hiking - about the NRDC’s ongoing conservation efforts and battles in the greater Yellowstone eco system. Before our departing flight out of Bozeman we met with Todd Wilkinson, writer of “Last Stand”, a book about ‘the inner Ted Turner’ and conservationist, a truly inspiring tome that can lift one’s spirits that all is not lost…….yet. By coincidence Mr. Turner was also having Lunch at the same establishment, not surprising for we were in ‘Ted’s Grill’ after all. Todd introduced us and after chatting with him briefly we returned to our table to let Mr. Turner have his privacy. Todd Wilkinson is a long time conservationist writer focused primarily on the Yellowstone Eco System and recently launched the online publication Mountain Journal MoJo for short. His energy and passion for preserving our national treasures and wildlife is infectious and we plan to work with Todd on a joint project in the near future.

After a fairly busy Summer of performing with The Wolf, we returned to Jackson Hole, this time not only for its Wildlife Film Festival, but also for the ‘Big Cat Conservation Summit’ which preceded it. While attending the JHFF is always a most enjoyable, enriching experience, this year’s Big Cat Summit was particularly rewarding. Two people, who are very dear to us and whose films and conservation efforts we so admire, namely Dereck & Beverly Joubert were in attendance. Yes, seeing their new film “Tribe versus Pride” – about Lion conservation efforts focused on redirecting the traditional Maasai young Warriors need to prove their manhood by killing a Lion, into the recently created “Maasai Olympics”  was, as is the case with all their films, captivating and a learning experience. But what made seeing Dereck & Beverly so astonishing was simply that they were there, for earlier this year Beverly had been attacked and gored by a Cape Buffalo Bull and Dereck was also severely injured, while rescuing Beverly. She nearly lost her life and went through weeks of recovery, multiply operations and more. In short, to see them, looking as good as ever, after such a relatively short period of healing, was absolutely the most emotional and gratifying moment of our return to Jackson Hole this year. Knowing they are back in Botswana, no doubt working on yet another exceptional film, well it makes us smile just thinking about it. Until the next post, stay well & stay wild everyone. JK & JMK    


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The Maue Kay Foundation is a non profit 501(c) (3) charitable foundation formed in 2004 by John Kay and Jutta Maue Kay supports individuals and organizations engaged in the protection of WILDLIFE, THE ENVIRONMENT and HUMAN RIGHTS