President and Co-Founder
Rosemary Alles was born in Sri-Lanka, a tear-drop-shaped island in the Indian ocean, just south of its giant neighbor, India. A violent civil war in Sri-Lanka forced Rosemary and her family to immigrate first to Canada and then the USA.
Rosemary graduated in Computer Science and Mathematics from the University of Toronto. She has a master’s degree in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) from Penn State; her work as a software engineer for astronomical observatories spanned several years during which she worked for the Keck and CFHT telescopes in Hawaii, Caltech in Southern California and NASA/Ames (USRA) in Silicon Valley.
As a young child, Rosemary experienced the majesty of Lanka’s surviving Asian elephants, both wild and captive; animals who often face a fate more tragic than (even) their African counterparts. One of Rosemary’s earliest childhood memories is of feeding captive elephants who frequented the vicinity of her childhood home to retrieve felled lumber, elephants who hauled logs over many difficult miles. The fate, lives and eyes of these splendid animals are indelibly etched in Rosemary’s heart and mind.
Rosemary left her job in Silicon Valley to work and volunteer in Africa; her focus is at the intersection of disenfranchised human and animal communities; she believes that the creative and thoughtful disruption of colonial modalities of conservation and the dismantling of racial privilege will craft a space for conversations about conservation that are meaningful, compassionate and effective.
Among her many conservation efforts, Rosemary volunteered her time in Namibia, working with a scientist amid the desert dwelling elephants of the skeleton coast, gathering and analyzing critical data to ensure the survival of an endangered keystone species. She is currently based in rural South Africa engaged in community-based advocacy on behalf of elephants and rhinos and volunteering on behalf of biodiversity, water, endemic flora and iconic mega fauna.
Rosemary brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to advocacy.
Vice President, Graphics and Imagery
Hale is a filmmaker, an activist working for social justice, and a founding member of San Francisco March for Elephants. In 2002 he started his own production company, The Feature Factory, producing films exclusively for nonprofits and NGOS. Clients have included UNHCR, the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, as well as educational institutions. Hale worked as an organizer in Chicago for refugee resettlement, helping families start a new life in the United States. He serves as a core member of Global March for Elephants and Rhinos in Los Angeles, working on events and generating graphics for the organization. Hale is currently in production on the documentary, Ivory Disrupted, about the beginnings of the movement to end the sale of ivory in California, a story that ultimately calls for Africans to lead in the march against extinction of elephant and rhinos.
Vice President, Social Media
South African born of Irish decent, Megan is a Goldsmith and Fine Jewelry Designer working for private clients in South Africa and the United Kingdom.
Passionate about Africa, its people and wildlife, she is founder of the Rhinos in Africa Foundation. With its impressive social media presence, she raises awareness on behalf of conservationists and organisations fighting the scourge of wildlife poaching.
As a GMFER Core member, Megan has organised marches and events for GMFER in Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Johannesburg and in rural KwaZulu Natal. Megan attended CITES CoP17 in 2016 as a representative of GMFER and is currently on the board of directors as VP of social media.
Jodie volunteered with the local rescue group, Molly’s Militia, for 4 years (2000 – 2004), placing over 300 animals (dogs and cats) into loving homes, and served on the Augusta Animal Services Advisory Board for 2 years (2002 – 2004). She co-organized the first GMFER March in Augusta, Georgia in 2014.
Shubert Mwarabu is a young, charismatic activist on behalf of wildlife in Tanzania, who possesses a keen understanding of community advocacy. In his own words, “The efforts to conserve our endangered species will have little impact if we leave the communities who are neighbors to wildlife out of the conversation. Community is the centre of effective conservation.” A singer, songwriter and performer, he uses his musical talents to inspire youth to get involved with conservation. In 2013 he launched the one-man campaign, Me Against Poaching, to show that a single person can make a difference. He’s an ambassador for the California non-profit, Generation Awakening. Shubert’s travels on behalf of wildlife have brought him to Johannesburg, South Africa, to advocate at CoP17; to Hong Kong to push for a ban on ivory trade; and to New York City, where he fired up the crowd at an otherwise sombre event when he gave an impromptu performance at the Ivory Crush in Central Park. In 2017 Shubert had the honor of being chosen as a YALI (Young African Leadership Initiative) fellow from Tanzania in the United States.
Denise is a founding member of GMFER and of the grassroots advocacy group Action for Elephants UK. As a core strategist for GMFER, she played a key role in organizing the first global marches and is a co-organizer of the annual march in London. She is also co-organizer of AFEUK’s other campaigns and protests. As the group’s writer she produces its press releases, brochures, letters and website content, and has authored letters to heads of state that received global support and media coverage. Most recently she authored an open letter to Prime Minister Modi as part of AFEUK’s campaign to end the abuse of India’s temple elephants, which was covered in the UK and Indian press. She has written articles on the elephant crisis for The Dodo and The South African Times.
Mariana Fernandes is the administrator for the GMFER Twitter account, as well as part of the GMFER Core Team. Prior to joining GMFER, Mariana advocated against wild animals in captivity and in the entertainment industry, including circuses and zoos, in South Africa. She was one of the main organizers / coordinators of the first ever Global March for Lions in 2014, which targeted the Canned Captive Lion industry in South Africa. She is vehemently opposed to any form of trade of wild animals and their parts, including ivory, rhino horn, lion bones; trophy hunting; and animals in entertainment, including elephant rides and petting of lion/tiger cubs etc. With the GMFER vision of #Justice4All, she advocates constantly against climate change, for environmental protection, and against social and political injustice. Her favourite quotation: “Be Part of the Process” – Pravin Ghordhan SA Ex-Finance Minister.
Maria lives in Surrey, United Kingdom. A founding member of GMFER, she also co-founded Action for Elephants UK in 2013. AFEUK has campaigned against China’s ivory trade and worked to close down the UK’s domestic ivory market by organising protests, marches, and letter-writing campaigns that have received global media attention.
AFEUK also works to raise awareness about the plight of Asian elephants, exploited in the tourist industry for rides and entertainment. The group’s most recent campaign exposes the tragic lives of captive temple elephants across India and works to apply pressure on the Indian government to enforce existing laws to protect them. Maria has volunteered at elephant sanctuaries in Thailand, where she has seen first-hand the mental and physical scars inflicted on elephants rescued from abuse. She believes that every single voice counts and together we can make positive change.
Samarrth lives in Faridabad, India, a nation known for the wonder of its elephants and tigers. His deeply felt concern centers on the realization that India has not devoted adequate attention to the rich bio diversity in the country, particularly in the context of the continent’s iconic megafauna. Profoundly affected by this crisis, he set out on a passionate journey working to become a conservation and animal activist. As a 12th grader, his advocacy is most strongly expressed educating students in his school. In the fall of 2015, he founded ’Society Empowered for the Welfare of Animals and Mankind (S.E.W.A.M.) The mission is to work with his classmates to sensitize and connect children in the community with nature and animals, immersing them in documentary screenings and outdoor programs and by sending regular aid to animals in need. Campaigns he initiated include Youth Letters for Earth Campaign organized in association with Global March for Elephants and Rhinos. Children wrote to world leaders calling for the cessation of deforestation and poaching. Samarrth also partnered with GMFER youth to transform a deserted wasteland in Faridabad into a mini-forest; the installation serving to trap and absorb pollution as well as offering a vital sanctuary for local wildlife. Notably, with community help, he was able to distribute more than 2500 native tree saplings. While continuing his studies at school, Samarrth also sought to organize further awareness programs in Faridabad, at one point carrying the campaign about the plight of animals and the environmental crisis to the nation’s capital, New Delhi.
Vital actions have involved regular visits to colleges and local schools, distributing information that could be shared through various classes, seminars and symposiums. In 2017, Samarrth joined with other advocates aiding efforts to release captive elephants abused on safaris rides in the Jim Corbett national park. He has made regular appearances on television, and has been featured in local newspapers, striving to share his message as widely as possible. He is currently a member of
GMFER Youth, Team leader for S.E.W.A.M., and co-founder of The Tigerline, a tight knit group dedicated to growing awareness about the urgent need for saving the lives of tigers in India. When time allows, he also volunteers with the city forest and wildlife department, People for Animals Trust Faridabad.
Of special importance to Samarrth in school is his classwork in zoology and botany. Both are complimentary in his view; learning about animals provides a better understanding of wildlife, and where, in botony, drawing close to the complex living systems in plants supports an understanding of their purpose in the ecosystem and their vital role for animal habitats. His coursework also includes the study of physics, chemistry, and mathematics.
Samarrth’s future ambitions include advancing his advocacy work on a wider platform, committing to a life-long career protecting animals and the environment. He has a dream to take his mother to Africa to witness the extraordinary life of elephants, but worries these majestic animals might not be there much longer, suffering under the widespread horror of poaching, and the threat of extinction. Profoundly troubled by this, his determination as an advocate burns even more fiercely.
Devastated by news of the poaching crisis in Africa a few years ago, Susan channeled her sorrow into action, gravitating toward the fierce grassroots advocacy of GMFER in 2014. She has been with the core group ever since. A user experience designer and researcher by profession, she tries to use her professional problem-solving skills to address the planet’s crises, focusing on saving our dwindling wildlife and the scourge of plastic pollution. She co-organized the GMFER events in Los Angeles the past few years as well as the Global March for Lions, against the abhorrent canned lion hunting industry, in LA in 2014 and 2015. Susan deeply believes in GMFER’s principle that we cannot save wildlife without addressing social and racial injustice. She designed and developed the current version of the GMFER website.
Salisha dubs herself a rebel with too many causes – an activist, a conservationist and an adventurer. Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, she firmly believes that social justice is the key to the future of wildlife in her country. She is currently the Director of Strategy Coordination and Knowledge Management at Lion Guardians, founding member and Managing Director of Kenyans United Against Poaching Trust and a board member of Friends of Nairobi National Park.
Sudarshani Fernando from Sri Lanka serves as the co-founder and Director of the Centre for Eco-cultural Studies (CES) – a research-based training institute established in 1998, located in the wildlife sanctuary of Sigiriya, in Sri Lanka’s central hinterland. She has been researching the lifeways of the ‘Vadda’ people since 1991 at the Institute of Fundamental Studies (IFS) and subsequently at the Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology (PGIAR) and serves as the resident anthropologist at CES. Sudarshani’s work involves promoting natural and cultural resource conservation engaging forest-dwelling communities, to benefit both wildlife and Indigenous and local communities (ILC), living in designated protected areas.
Sudarshani has represented CES in the Indigenous Working Group for the Livelihood Recovery of Indigenous People (IWGLRIP) comprising a multi-stakeholder network, established in response to the livelihood insecurities being experienced by modern forest-dependent communities. Its objective was to facilitate the recovery of forest livelihoods and to preserve associated traditional knowledge systems. Sudarshani also represented CES as a part of the four-member Sri Lanka delegation at the UN Redd+ workshop on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) involving ILC, facilitated by UNDP GEF-SGP Sri Lanka and hosted by UN Redd+ New York, in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Her focal area since 2014 representing CES, involves law enforcement as per established national wildlife legislation in coordinating with the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) and other concerned agencies and individuals in legal action in Sri Lanka, including the State, private and NGO sector backed with the commitment of CES. They have thus, been able to control the once “thriving illegal trade in elephant calves” in combating ‘organized’ crime, by a 99% success rate.
To strengthen the cause, Sudarshani co-founded Sentinels Against Wildlife Crime (SAWC) in 2013, comprising a network of interested individuals, legal personnel, media, welfare and environmental enthusiasts and conservationists, to advocate and raise awareness against wildlife crime. Further, she was invited to join the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos (GMFER) as a Core Advisor in 2014 based on the conservation campaigns being fought “on the ground” in respect of supporting Sri Lanka’s mega fauna in crisis, globally.
GMFER uses online campaigns, grassroots organizing and protests to advocate against the trade in ivory and rhino horn and amplify the voices of indigenous African communities in the conversation about conservation.