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. The correlations between disenfranchised human and animal communities are her focus; she believes that the creative and thoughtful disruption of outdated colonial models of conservation and the dismantling of racial privilege will lead to collaborative conservation efforts that are meaningful, compassionate and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.
Bob Robertson is a ten-year resident of Hawaii, but he has lived in several parts of the United States and Mexico. He is fluent in Spanish. In a former business career and as a traveler, he visited more than ten countries. In Europe he has studied systems of sustainable forestry.
For many years he worked in the wine industry of Napa Valley in northern California.
Bob has been interested in wildlife conservation since childhood, not professionally but as a passionate advocate. Some of his more recent interests have included the historical and cultural preservation of the indigenous Hawaiian culture, and a very strong interest in the conservation of native Hawaiian plants, many species which are facing extinction. He has worked as a volunteer for a local ethno botanic garden.
Bob hopes to help spread awareness of the plight of elephants and rhinos, so that resources can be obtained to ensure the success of this organization.
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.
Chaga is a communications specialist, bringing cross-functional expertise to the table. Having served industry leading local and multinational brands, CSR projects and conducting professional training at leading Marcom Agencies in Sri Lanka and Oman, Chaga’s extensive experience in the industry has enabled her to gain a holistic view of delivering change and transformation. She helps companies to drive business and achieve transformational change by strategically utilising emerging techniques and technologies.
Born in a land of natural beauty – Sri Lanka, she is passionate about birding, elephants and leopard. She has taken her innate talent for art, craft and photography to a new level with a view of contributing towards several conservational projects.
She has served as the Honorary Secretary at the Photographic Society of Sri Lanka, making strategic changes at the Society.
During her formative years she saw working elephants in her paternal home town, even shared the broad stream near her ancestral home with those majestic giants, during their mid-day baths. She has witnessed colourful pageants of dancers and drummers with “dressed-up” elephants amidst copra torches, affluent bride grooms riding an elephant to the bride’s home.
Chaga is committed to extend more support towards the protection of elephants, rhino and lions by teaming up with GMFER, and thereby strengthen networks with like-minded folks across the globe.
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.
Since 2014, the focus of Sudarshani’s work representing CES has been enhancement of law enforcement relating to established national wildlife legislation. Undertaken with the backing of CES and in collaboration with the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC), the State, the private and NGO sectors, and other agencies and individuals devoted to wildlife law enforcement in Sri Lanka, this collaborative effort has achieved a 99% success rate in controlling the once thriving illegal trade in elephant calves, and in combating wildlife-related organized crime.
To strengthen the cause, Sudarshani co-founded Sentinels Against Wildlife Crime (SAWC) in 2013. SAWC is comprised of a network of concerned individuals, legal personnel, media, and conservationists who raise awareness of wildlife crime and advocate against it. Sudarshani was invited to join the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos (GMFER) in 2014 as a Core Advisor, based on the conservation campaigns being fought on the ground in Sri Lankain in support of megafauna 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.