This is Gajraj.
At 70 years old Gajraj has survived as a temple animal for 51 years, much of that time in chains. This year he was rescued by an organization called Wildlife SOS. At Wildlife SOS’s Elephant Care Center Gajraj will finally have the freedom to live out the rest of his life the way a wild elephant should.
The heartbreaking truth about his story is that Gajraj is one of the lucky ones. Urbanization is pushing leopards onto farms and macaques into cities. The inevitable confrontations with humans often result in injury or death. Innumerable poached elephants and snakes are forced into servitude in brutal and unhealthy conditions while turtles and birds are sold to the pet trade where most die during transport.
Wildlife SOS has asked me, as a filmmaker, photographer and storyteller, to collaborate with them to create a call to action for Indians to protect wildlife. For six months in partnership with Wildlife SOS staff, I will create outreach and education materials that challenge perspectives on wildlife and return more animals like Gajraj to the life that they deserve.
People are the greatest threat to India’s wildlife. And only people can change that. We are going to create videos that inspire action and ignite conversations with a wide variety of Indian citizens. This project will use visual storytelling to cultivate grass root leaders that stand up for animal welfare all across India.
The work that we create will be placed directly into the hands of the Police and Forest departments through regular workshops with Wildlife SOS. We have the ability to stimulate conversations around practical solutions with state officials that encounter animal welfare issues and enforce the law. On the local level, our content will accompany Wildlife SOS staff to community gatherings as educational material. We will reach India’s youth on social media as well as through workshops and schoolrooms countrywide.
And while I’m there, I will be training Wildlife SOS photographers and outreach staff in video production so that long after I leave, they can translate their mission and their hard work into compelling educational material.
And we need your help to bring this project to life.
Thank you for your time and your support. And if you’d like to help even more, share this GoFundMe page with your friends and family! Your contribution will make a difference. Thank you.
Who we are
My name is Thomas Rowell. In the last three years, in two separate film projects, I have conducted more than 30 interviews with keepers, curators, CEO’s and scientists, at Maui Bird Conservation Center (USA), San Diego Zoo (USA), Ol Pejeta Conservancy (Kenya), and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (Kenya). Embedded in these breeding facilities, zoos, and conservancies I have gained a working knowledge of wildlife care in the wild and in captivity. These experiences have prepared me for the reality of Wildlife SOS’s day-to-day work, as well as focused my perspective on their goal to protect and serve wildlife.
As a theatre director, educator and filmmaker, my work has taken me all over the world to gather and craft stories. I am passionate about this opportunity to transform the skills I have gained from my various disciplines into real and lasting change.
To see some of my work visit:
Wildlife SOS (WSOS) was established by Kartick Satyanarayan and Geeta Seshamani in 1995 inspired to start a movement and make lasting change to protect and conserve India’s natural heritage, forest and wildlife wealth. Today, the organization has evolved to actively work towards protecting Indian wildlife, conserving habitat, studying biodiversity, conducting research and creating alternative and sustainable livelihoods for erstwhile poacher communities or those communities that depend on wildlife for sustenance.
For more information on Wildlife SOS and their work visit:
Every dollar contributed will go directly toward the fulfillment of this project. Your donations will make this project possible by helping me cover transportation to and from India, living costs, travel medicine, visa, and necessary video and photographic equipment upgrades. If you are considering a larger donation and would like to see a detailed budget, please let me know! I would be happy to share.
Any money raised beyond my own expenses will be donated to Wildlife SOS to support their invaluable work rescuing and caring for India’s wildlife.
If you choose, I will email updates that take you along for the adventure. Also be sure to follow the action on Facebook (@wildlifesosindia) and Instagram (@wildlifesos and @brothermountainfilms) and Twitter (@wildlifeSOS) (***If you'd like to recieve the limited email updates drop me a note with your email address at the top of this GoFundMe page where you see my name and a small letter icon. That should give you the chance to "contact the organizer.")