In the months since the premier of Tiger King, I have found myself inundated with questions regarding my name. Mahamayavi Bhagavan Antle is my given name, not some alias as implied by national animal rights groups.
I was born in Phoenix, Arizona and grew up on my parent’s cattle ranch in southern California. My mother was interested in eastern philosophy and chose my Hindu name, Mahamayavi Bhagavan Antle. Because of difficulties with pronunciation, I went by “Kevin” in school.
When I was a young man, I studied Chinese Medicine. My friends started calling me “Doc.” The nickname stuck. Most people now call me by my nickname, “Doc Antle.” That’s all there is to it— Nothing to do with the salacious story told by Tiger King, nor dark implications by Carole Baskin and her animal rights friends bent on destroying my reputation— Just a man with an unusual name. That is all.
Those that subscribe to the Rare Species Fund Newsletter likely remember the story of Ranger Hendri Saputra, who was swept away by the Krueng Inong River while on Patrol in the Luecer Ecosystem, Soraya Station in Sumatra, Indonesia last November. His body was found 20 miles down river days later. Hendri is a hero in the cause of conservation, and is survived by his wife and young daughter. The Rare Species Fund will be doing a fundraiser to help his wife and daughter.
FKL Ranger Hendri Saptura
Hendri died to save the earth. Goodbye Friend. We will continue your struggle for the environment and forests, and for a better national life.— Dr. Rudi Putra, Director FKL
The job of Wildlife Protection Ranger is an unforgiving and dangerous job. Rangers don’t work easy days and go home to their families at night. Nor do they receive many of the benefits that Rangers in the USA do. The life insurance that they do have, is quite modest by western standards. Rangers walk into the bush for a month at a time on patrol. They face armed poachers, eat, sleep, and patrol under difficult conditions, all while risking their lives to protect tigers, orangutans, rhinos and other critically endangered species. When something goes wrong, help is not close by. And their families can suffer.
Hendri was the best of the best. He will be remembered as a hero of conservation.— Doc Antle, Director RSF
The Rare Species Fund contributions to Forum Konservasi Leuser have completely rebuilt the Soraya Station— a research and ranger outpost deep in the Leuser ecosystem. We outfitted a team of Wildlife Protection Rangers, and helped to buy back land from small palm oil farmers— restoring the area to its natural state by cutting down non-native palm oil trees, and replanting native plants. In this way we have been able reclaim critical habitat, and protect it for the many critically endangered species that call the Leuser home. Hendri Saputra was a leader and a hero in this effort. Poaching is down by 90% since RSF funded FKL Rangers were deployed.
We would like to thank all of the Nagan Raya SAR, military, police and individuals from nearby communities who mounted the search and rescue operation. Hendri was loved by many.
FKL Wildlife Protection Rangers preparing to go on patrol at Soraya Station.
Please join the Rare Species Fund mailing list to get details of a fundraiser we will be doing to provide support to Hendri Saptura’s widow and daughter.
Tiger King, the new drama series that debuted on Netflix last week, is not a documentary, it is quasi-fictional drama, more interested in shock value and titillation than fact. While focusing on dramatizing the real life rivalry between Joe “Exotic” and Carole Baskin and their crazy “murder for hire,” made for reality TV hi jinx , the insinuation that TIGERS/ Myrtle Beach Safari exploits tiger cubs is a reprehensible misrepresentation.
We were told by Tiger King producers, that the show would focus on our enriching habitats and all of the conservation work that is at the heart of what we do. TIGERS/ Myrtle Beach Safari has a massive, state of the art facility, unequaled anywhere in the world. We provide our animals with unprecedented 24/7 care and attention from a trained, professional staff. Enrichment opportunities for our cats and primates are unique to us among even the best of zoos in this country— Illustrating our good work is the bill of goods the directors of Tiger King sold to secure our participation.
Tiger King producers spent many days on our property witnessing what we do— socializing, exercising, interacting, training and providing only wholesome, biologically appropriate nutrition to all of the animals in our care. However, the filmmakers chose to omit all of the positive work we do with and for animals in their Netflix “mockumentary”.
Instead, Tiger King focuses on the salacious personalities, conflicts and crimes of Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin, and then attempts to paint our program with the same brush as their third rate, inadequate backyard operations. It’s incomprehensible. TIGERS/ Myrtle Beach Safari is a multi-million dollar, cutting edge wonderland for rare and endangered species that attracts visitors from around the world. If a trip into the world of Joe Exotic and his rival Carole Baskin is a ride through the trailer park, visiting the exceptional amenities we offer our animals is like arriving at the Ritz Carlton.
It is important to understand that all of our cubs are born here at the preserve and are part of our breeding program (Species Survival Trust or SST) that is conducted in partnership with Brian W. Davis, Ph.D, an Assistant Professor of Genomics in the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences in the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine, and the founder of the Exotic Genome Repository. This distinguishes our programs from others. Our cubs are not bred solely for the purpose of being part of our interactive programs. They are bred as a conservation measure to help ensure species survival. Our captive tiger breeding program creates an invisible ark for the genetic backup of wild tiger populations that are threatened throughout the world by loss of habitat. Without conservation through captive breeding, the species face extinction.
Contrary to the false assertions made in the Tiger King, our tiger cubs are never euthanized or sold. They do not end up in dead end sanctuaries, in cramped, rusty cages. They remain at our preserve for their entire lives— either here on site at TIGERS, or they are transferred to an accredited zoological facility that is a partner in our breeding program (SST) to help support genetic diversity in captive tigers.
Because we breed with the expectation of keeping our tigers into their old age, we produce very few cubs per year. We are a seasonal business in Myrtle Beach open only 8 months per year. Visitors to our facilities are permitted three days per week, and highly supervised interaction takes place with only 3-6 cubs for 20 minutes per tour maximum. Cubs are allowed to meet guests on a limited basis until the age of 16-20 weeks old.
TIGERS/ Myrtle Beach Safari adheres to all of the regulations and guidelines set out by the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA), as administered by the Unites States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Tigers are an endangered species, and as such FWS and USDA require extensive documentation regarding welfare, births, deaths, transport and changing dispositions of our animals. We submit to regular inspections of our facility and audits of all of our records. TIGERS/ Myrtle Beach Safari has never been found to be in violation of the AWA, nor the ESA.
The amazing moments that visitors are able to spend with our animal ambassadors are instrumental in helping our non-profit charity, the Rare Species Fund (RSF), support many of the last wild places on Earth. Premiums paid by visitors have funded the RSF’s reopening of Soraya Forest Research Station in Sumatra. Soraya Station is located in one of the most important research and conservation locals in the world. They protect many critically endangered species; tigers, elephants, rhinos, and orangutans— standing guard to one of the very last precious pieces of our world’s unique wildlife system where tigers still live in the wild. Poaching is down 90% in the area since RSF was able to fund payment for wildlife rangers at Soraya. This is just one example of the realization of our dream; creating ambassador programs that support and invest people in on-the-ground conservation around the globe. We believe the experience we have created at Myrtle Beach Safari is unlike any you will ever achieve elsewhere, but more importantly, it can truly transform the world.
RSF helps Forum Konservasi Leuser protect Endangered Species
Donations to RSF’s ongoing program of support to Dr. Rudi Putra and Forum Konservasi Leuser have completely rebuilt the Soraya Station— a research and ranger outpost deep in the remote Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia. We also outfitted a team of Wildlife Protection Rangers, and helped to buy back land from small palm oil farmers— restoring the area to its natural state by cutting down non-native palm oil trees, and replanting native plants. In this way we have been able to reclaim critical habitat, and protect it for the many critically endangered species that call the Leuser Ecosystem home.
One of the many pieces of research equipment funded by RSF are trail cameras. These trail cams enable FKL Rangers to remotely monitor the movement of species through parts of the Leuser Ecosystem. Below are some of the endangered species moving through this restored and protected habitat on a daily basis.
Enjoy the VIDEOS and thank you for your generous support of RSF and Soraya Station!
Success at Soraya Station In 2016, international film star, Leonardo DiCaprio gave unprecedented attention to the work of Dr. Rudi Putra’s Forum Konservasi Leuser (FKL) at Soraya Station in Sumatra. DiCaprio was making a National Geographic documentary on climate change, and was persuaded to tour the Leuser Ecosystem. The exposure for the conservation work being done in Leuser by Dr. Putra, the FKL Rangers, and the Rare Species Fund (RSF) was priceless.
Since 2016, the Rare Species Fund has been assisting Dr. Putra to do the grueling daily work of conservation in the daunting Leuser Ecosystem. RSF contributions to Forum Konservasi Leuser have completely rebuilt the Soraya Station— a research and ranger outpost deep in the Leuser. We also outfitted a team of Wildlife Protection Rangers, and helped to buy back land from small palm oil farmers— restoring the area to its natural state by cutting down non-native palm oil trees, and replanting native plants. In this way we have been able reclaim critical habitat, and protect it for the many critically endangered species that call the Leuser Ecosystem home.
Your funding [RSF] is very important for maintaining our activities in Soraya Station… —Dr. Rudi Putra, Forum Konservasi Leuser
Dr. Putra and his team of rangers do heroic work to protect the unique flora and fauna in and around Leuser. Because of the omnipresent threat of poaching, and illegal slash and burn logging, the work is done under extremely dangerous conditions. Wildfire and armed gun-thugs make every day in the bush a journey into the heart of darkness. However, since Soraya Station has become operational again, scientific research has been given a safe haven and base of operations. FKL rangers have begun regular patrols of the area— and as a result, poaching and illegal logging is down by an astonishing 90%! A recent scientific survey and report from Dr. Putra, details the conservation success achieved through the partnership between RSF and FKL.
Partnership— Rare Species Fund and Forum Konservasi Leuser
RSF provided 100% of the funding to rebuild the Soraya Station Research and Ranger Outpost.
RSF equips and pays 32 Forum Konservasi Leuser (FKL) Rangers.
RSF provides funding to buy back and restore habitat for endangered tigers, orangutans, elephants, rhinos and bears to be held in trust for Mount Leuser National Park.
Poaching down 90% since RSF funded FKL Rangers have been deployed.
Dr. Rudi Putra received the Goldman Prize for work dismantling illegal palm oil plantations.
What is the Leuser Ecosystem?
The Leuser ecosystem is a system of forests situated on the northern side of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Approximately 6 million acres in size, this forest is the only place in the world that is home to tigers, orangutans, rhinos, elephants and bears. Leuser was designated as a national forest by the Indonesian government. National Parks are monitored and patrolled by government employed rangers, but National Forests, while “officially” protected, are largely unmonitored by government officials. The same is true for Leuser. The massive expanses of forest are “by law” protected from hunting and timber cutting, but enforcement is typically lacking.
Leuser Ecosystem is over 6 million acres, three times the size of Yellowstone.
Established by Indonesian Presidential Decree in 1998, the Gunung Leuser National Park (1.5 million acres) was established by Decree of the Ministry of Forestry in 1997.
Most intact wildlife habitat of high biodiversity and mega fauna in Asia.
Approximately 120 Sumatran tigers in Leuser – IUCN Red List – Critically Endangered.
Sumatran rhinos are at the brink of extinction. Approximately 90 in Leuser– IUCN Red List – Critically Endangered.
How RSF Inspires Conservation
Having been featured in popular media such as PBS and National Geographic documentaries, children’s books, music videos and feature films, RSF Animal Ambassadors have attained celebrity status. Their high profile and charisma have inspired millions of Americans to take a greater interest in conserving rare and endangered species in places like the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia.
Without interest generated by the cutting edge, interactive wildlife programs at TIGERS Myrtle Beach Safari, the funding that has contributed to the success of Dr. Putra and FKL would not be possible. Today we can claim victory in the battle waged for critically endangered species in the fragile Leuser Ecosystem— an ongoing battle being fought by Dr. Rudi Putra, the dedicated Wildlife Protection Rangers of Forum Konservasi Leuser, and the Rare Species Fund.
Letter From Doc Antle— Director of TIGERS and the Rare Species Fund
Thank you to all of our dear friends and supporters that have sent cards, letters, and emails of concern about our safety during and after Hurricane Florence. The Myrtle Beach Safari did not suffer any lasting damage from the storm itself. All of our animals are 100% safe! However, the mandatory evacuation of coastal South Carolina has had a major financial impact, interrupting business operations during a busy part of our season. Subsequently, the aftermath of the storm continues to present us with challenges and obstacles in returning to business as usual.
As many people know, we are located near the Intracoastal Waterway. There has been severe flooding of the area due to the amount of rain produced by Hurricane Florence. Fortunately you can all be assured that the animals and our professional staff are all doing very well. The safety and security of our animals is priority #1. Over the years we have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in infrastructure to keep the facilities high and dry, while facilitating quick, efficient drainage. This forethought and preparation has paid big dividends, keeping our animals and their enclosures safe, secure and dry, even in the worst of storms.
Unfortunately, the western side of the Preserve, is severely flooded— as are the residences of about half of our professional staff. For twelve days after the hurricane, the waters of the Waccamaw River and Intracoastal Waterway continued to rise. The low end of our property is currently 6.5 feet underwater and some of our homes have more than 4 feet of water inside. Once the flooding has crested, it is expected to take several weeks before the water has fully receded. At that point we can assess the damage to our homes. Our staff, armed with waders and boats, have been trying to keep our own lives from sinking. Additionally, been assisting our friends and neighbors in the community that are suffering right along with us.
Due to massive flooding in the surrounding area, travel has been largely restricted and we continue to see a major decrease in visitors to the Myrtle Beach Safari. This impact, along with the epic cleanup and rebuilding that will be required in the many months to come, is and will continue to represent a major financial burden, that will affect our day to day operations and our international wildlife conservation work.
Because the facility itself is intact, the Myrtle Beach Safari resumed normal operations last week, well after Hurricane Florence passed. We urge anyone that is interested in joining us for a once in a lifetime interactive wildlife experience to come and visit. We are open for business and taking reservations now! Your attendance will help us to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.
Thank you so much. We greatly appreciate the outpouring of support shown by all of you. This sense of giving and concern is what allows us to believe that our work helping to save endangered wildlife will be successful. Working with you, we will continue to make a difference. Please come visit the Myrtle Beach Safari. Your ongoing support is the “help” that will help us the most.
Dr. Rudi Putra, founder Forum Konservasi Leuser (FKL)— Sumatra, Indonesia
RSF and FKL
As you may be aware, the Rare Species Fund is providing funding to Dr. Rudi Putra and his conservation organization the Forum Konservasi Leuser (FKL) to rebuild the Soraya Research and Ranger Station in the Leuser ecosystem of Sumatra— and to equip and pay 24 FKL rangers to stop poaching in the area. Dr. Putra and his team of rangers have done amazing work, under dangerous conditions, with remarkable success— and on a shoestring budget.
The Rare Species Fund has been working with the Forum Konservasi Leuser to help conserve vast regions of primary forest. A primary threat to the forest environment is the massive expansion of palm oil plantations into wild territories. The expansion of illegal palm oil trees is a primary reason for loss of habitat for endangered species in Indonesia. Illegal logging provides hard woods for the black market, and these trees are often replaced with planted palm oil trees, which double the profits of those ignoring national park boundaries.
Dr. Rudi Putra leads FKL Rangers into the bush to remove snares from Leuser ecosystem
The Leuser ecosystem is a system of forests situated on the northern side of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Approximately 6 million acres in size, this forest is the only place in the world that is home to tigers, orangutans, rhinos and elephants. Leuser was designated as a national forest by the Indonesian government. National Parks are monitored and patrolled by government employed rangers, but National Forests, while “officially” protected, are largely unmonitored by government officials. The same is true for Leuser. The massive expanses of forest are “by law” protected from hunting and timber cutting, but enforcement is typically lacking. Since FKL rangers have begun regular patrols, poaching and illegal logging is down by 90%.
Leuser Ecosystem Highlights:
Leuser Ecosystem is over 6 million acres, three times the size of Yellowstone.
Established by Indonesian Presidential Decree in 1998, the core national park (1.5 million acres) was established by Decree of the Ministry of Forestry in 1997.
Most intact wildlife habitat of high biodiversity and mega fauna in Asia.
Less than 400 Sumatran Tigers are left in the world, the majority are in Leuser – IUCN Red List – Critically Endangered.
Sumatra has experienced nearly total forest loss and decimation of wildlife habitat.
Sumatra fires are the sources of the Southeast Asia Haze pollution causing $100s of millions in economic losses and health issues annually.
Rare Species Fund Sponsorship
RSF has been a primary benefactor donating approximately $120,000US in financial support and equipment to FKL. Now we are proud to help FKL buy land from small palm oil farmers proximate to the National Forest, and restore it to it’s natural state by cutting down non-native palm oil trees and replanting native plants. In this way we can reclaim critical habitat, hectare by hectare, for the many critically endangered species that call the Leuser ecosystem home.
This spring, RSF sent FKL almost $30,000US to fund ranger activities, purchase several hectares around Soraya Station, and to build a new nursery in the front of the station to grow plants and trees for restoration work. Nearby, in the Singkil swamp forest we finished 70 hectares of forest restoration work, cutting down illegal palm oil trees. In Tamiang and Kutacanerestore, FKL rangers cut down hundreds of hectares of illegal palm oil trees, in preparation for restoration.
This summer RSF will be sponsoring a fundraiser to raise capital for additional land purchase and restoration— in order to recover critical habitat for tigers, orangutans and other critically endangered species. RSF will match fund donations up to $25,000US. We commit to $10,000US no matter how much is raised. However, we would be thrilled if we could send a check for $50,000US to Dr. Putra and the FKL rangers for their diligent work!
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