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Notes from the Director

Jackson Hole Elephant Summit & Wildlife Film Festival

We've been on the go the last few weeks - first the Elephant Summit & Wildlife Film Festival in Jackson Hole, then the Lewa USA fundraiser Gala in NYC, followed by the Wildlife Conservation Network Expo in San Francisco, that why this post - intended for September - had to wait until now. The Elephant Summit commenced at Jackson's Center For The Arts with the screening of "Soul Of The Elephant", the newest work by acclaimed film makers Dereck & Beverly Joubert. The showing of this absolutely spellbinding film was preceded with an acoustic solo performance by JK and followed with an onstage conversation between Dereck, Beverly, Cynthia Moss (Amboseli Trust for Elephants) and Joyce Poole (Elephant Voices). Much was discussed and much was learned about the state of the Elephant that evening. The following days were filled with numerous presentations, group discussions and additional screenings of Elephant focused films. It was truly a Summit of many of the most distinguished people and NGOs engaged in the study, protection and conservation of Elephants. Among these were, Iain and Saba Douglas Hamilton and Frank Pope of 'Save The Elephants', the aforementioned Cynthia Moss and Joyce Poole, John Hemingway (filmmaker of "Battle For The Elephants" and the recently broadcast "Warlords Of Ivory") and Paula Kahumbu, both of 'Wildlife Direct', Pat Awori 'Pan African Wildlife Conservation Network', Winnie Kiiru 'Conservation Kenya', Ginger Thomson 'Lewa USA', Jeffrey Parish 'Wildlife Conservation Network', Peter Knights 'Wild Aid' as well as representatives from NGOs such as WWF (World Wildlife Fund), IFAW (International Fund For Animal Welfare) etc. Also in attendance was Greg Carr who's 'Gorongosa Restoration Project' in Mozambique is one of the most ambitious conservation efforts ever undertaken. This enormous project - the restoration of Gorongosa Park after the almost total extermination of its wildlife during Mozambique's 15 year long civil war -  has resulted in the successful reintroduction of numerous species in Gorongosa. The park's wildlife population is now over 20,000 strong. This was documented in the inspiring film "Gorongosa Park - Rebirth Of Paradise'" recently shown on PBS. The Summit was followed by the Wildlife Film Festival which had over 800 participants including well known producers like Disney-Nature, BBC and National Geographic but also numerous independent companies. Collectively several hundred films were submitted for consideration. Being immersed in such a multitude of committed people, during the Summit as well as the Festival, had a profoundly energizing effect on us. We made some new connections with several conservationists and were greatly encouraged by their enthusiasm and dedication. Towards the end of the Festival a 'come one, come all' BBQ sponsored by the National Geographic Wild Channel, with the theme of "Born To Be Wild", was held in nearby Moose, yes that's right Moose. JK got into the spirit of the event and performed a couple of Steppenwolf songs with the very able and versatile 'Snake River Band'. This was met with great applause and lots of action on the dance floor and was decidedly a highlight of the evening. The last Festival screening we attended was "Racing Extinction" a most sobering film about the deplorable rapid decline of wildlife everywhere and an urgent wake up call. The film showed this phrase projected onto the UN Building "The whole world is singing, but we have stopped listening". Let us hope that it's not too late for us to remember how. Next post we'll cover the Lewa USA and WCN Expo events. Until then: JK & JMK

Welcome To Our New Website

This website would not have become a reality were it not for two special people who generously donated their time and talents to this effort. They are MICHAEL WILK, who several years ago constructed our original site from scratch, and DAVE BISHOP who re-purposed some content of the old site and, with many additional new components, created this multi faceted, multi featured, up dated website. We hope that you find your visit here rewarding and informative and at times even entertaining. One important function of this site is to provide first hand testimony and information about people and NGOs we support, for those who also want to help, but who want assurance that their donations will reach the intended target and make a difference on the ground. All the NGOs featured on this site are in need of more support from a greater number of donors, therefore we hope you'll consider lending a hand to their efforts.

A few weeks ago we had the great pleasure of meeting renowned Elephant researcher and "Save The Elephants" founder Iain Douglas-Hamilton at a fund raiser here in California. We look forward seeing him again at the upcoming Wildlife / Elephant Summit in Jackson Hole in September. However before we fly to Wyoming for the event, JK & Steppenwolf still have to play 8 concerts, which will bring the total of engagements to 13 this year, enough to keep MKF well funded :-) We will post an update in September JK & JMK

Visit to the Patagonia Regions of Argentina & Chile

Our 2014 Report: The year started with a visit to the Patagonia regions of Argentina & Chile. While this South American trip was not made on behalf of MKF, we could not help but notice that the Chilean glaciers seem to be in retreat and that the various Penguin varieties – particularly the Magellanic Penguins – are struggling to maintain their numbers. We were able to observe these endearing creatures up close and were of course charmed by them. There is research in progress to mitigate their decline and reverse the trend. We hope these efforts will result in their recovery and that their numbers will stabilize. Between March and August JK & Steppenwolf played several US dates, thereby enabling MKF to continue to support its beneficiaries. It’s indeed a privilege to play with your friends for those who’ve been fans of the Wolf for decades and do this literally ‘for fun and profit’, in order for others – MKF’s recipients - to profit as well. In early September we flew to Jackson Hole, WY to participate in a fund raiser for one of those recipients, namely the Orangutan Foundation International (OFI). The event was organized by our good friend Ann Smith, whose energy seems inexhaustible when it comes to fund raising for wildlife causes. Dr. Birute Galdikas, renowned Primatologist and founder of OFI, was the event’s guest of honor. The evening started with JK performing a few songs from his solo recordings - ably assisted by husband and wife team Tucker & Kristen Smith on various string instruments – followed by the screening of JK’s video “Orangutan Odyssey” which was shot in Borneo at Camp Leakey and OFI’s Care Center for the rescued orphaned Orangutans.

Read more: Visit to the Patagonia Regions of Argentina & Chile

Wildlife and Conservation Community

Since our Baja Gray Whale adventure in February, we’ve become more and more connected to the wildlife and conservation community. This is in great part due to our friend Ann Smith who is a tireless facilitator and fund raiser for wildlife causes. We met Ann in January while visiting the Orangutan Foundation International in Borneo and discovered that we shared a passion for wildlife conservation. She knows and supports many of MKF’s beneficiaries in East Africa and has introduced us to several more. We recently added Big Life: to MKF’s list of recipients. Founded by renowned wildlife photographer Nick Brandt - whose stunning books of wildlife portraits we collect - Big Life’s trained and armed rangers have helped reduce Elephant poaching in Kenya and Tanzania, including Kenya’s Amboseli Park, where Cynthia Moss has been studying Elephants for 40 years. In June Jutta reconnected with Cynthia while both were in Jackson Hole as guests of Ann Smith and MKF now supports Cynthia’s Amboseli Trust for Elephants: also. Shortly before our September departure for Namibia, Ann and Imaging Spence, another new friend, invited us to join them in Jackson Hole during the Wildlife Film Festival, where our Heroine Dame Daphne Sheldrick (of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya) was to receive the Teton Outstanding Achievement Award in Conservation.

Read more: Wildlife and Conservation Community

Baja Mexico to visit the Gray Whales

As mentioned in our previous post, in February we joined a most congenial group of Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) supporters and traveled to Laguna San Ignacio in Baja Mexico to visit the Gray Whales. They arrive at this time of year to give birth and nurse their calves until they’re strong enough for the long journey to the northern feeding grounds. The Whale count in the Lagoon was around 300 when we arrived and – so we were told - roughly 10% of these were “friendly” Whales, meaning they were curious about humans and were likely to approach our small boats to be touched and even kissed. Well the good people of Baja Discoveries, whose tented camp was our temporary home, were spot on with their prediction. To our great delight we had several Whale encounters during the next few days. At times surrounded by numerous breaching and sky hopping whales, we were treated to repeated visits by females who seemed keen on introducing their young ones to us. More than once the calves – which were bigger than our boats - were gently nudged up against the side of our boats, so we could touch and stroke them.

Read more: Baja Mexico to visit the Gray Whales