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Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

“Blood Ivory” Is The Hard-Hitting New Documentary Series About U.S. Veterans Combatting Elephant Ivory Poaching Syndicates In Tanzania

Press Release – Discovery’s Animal Planet and Veterans Empowered to Protect African Wildlife (VETPAW), a U.S. nonprofit that employs U.S. Veterans to protect endangered wildlife teamed up for “Blood Ivory,” a historic and exciting documentary series that premiered Tuesday, September 12, 2017. https://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/blood-ivory/

The show documents VETPAW, which was founded in 2012 by Ryan Tate , a former post 9-11 Marine who saw what was happening to elephants and rhinos in Africa and realized that like himself, U.S. Veterans trained on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan in counter-insurgency warfare are remarkably well suited to re-purpose those skills in the battle to save African endangered species.

Tate stated, “I was so angry that these innocent creatures were dying for their tusks, for something only they needed. It was a war and it was time to even the stakes, that is how VETPAW (Veterans Empowered To Protect African Wildlife) was created. I quit my day job and put my skills as a Marine to use to shut down the criminal syndicates in Tanzania who were driving the illicit ivory trade.”

Tate, then 30 years old, had created a non-profit, VETPAW, that hires post 9-11 Veterans who are under or unemployed to go to work in conservation and anti-poaching. Working in conjunction with the Tanzanian Wildlife Crimes Task Force, Tate and his team successfully assisted the task force with investigations, security, strategy and ultimately the arrest of over 25 suspected poachers, leading to the destruction of a poaching ring responsible for the deaths of countless elehants.

“Blood Ivory” is the journey of this team comprised of former U.S. Marine, Air Force, Army and Special Forces Green Beret soldiers (many of whom had never been to Africa or seen an elephant up close) It is a compelling and heartfelf journey that changed their lives and helped save the lives of animals that otherwise could have fallen victim to poaching. “Blood Ivory” is airing on Discovery’s Animal Planet on Tuesday nights at 7 and 10pm for a limited run.

While “Blood Ivory” set the stage for this unique experiment in American Veterans conducting counter-poaching operations in Africa, today VETPAW maintains a base of operations in South Africa where their Veterans protect critically endangered rhinos from poaching. In addtion, VETPAW has trained approximately 1,000 African Park Rangers in the latest counter-poaching techniques.

ABOUT VETPAW: The goals of Veterans Empowered to Protect African Wildlife (VETPAW) are to provide meaningful employment to skilled post-9/11 U.S. Veterans and conserve critically endangered African species and their communities and ecosystems. Iconic and irreplaceable wildlife is on the brink of extinction due to illegal poaching, and the crisis has far-reaching and catastrophic consequences. VETPAW utilizes the unrivalled expertise of veterans to train and support African rangers and to provide sustainable solutions. By hiring the men and women of the U.S. military we also facilitate career development and personal growth. http://vetpaw.org/


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