Heidi Jo Markel, founder of Stop Poaching Now!

by | Sep 2, 2020

Heidi Jo Markel—longtime film producer and founder of Stop Poaching Now! (SPN), an organization dedicated to combating poaching through conservation strategies and educational efforts—recounts her foray into producing movies, starting by trying her hand at acting before realizing she preferred being behind the camera, and working behind the scenes. In 1999, she says, she produced her first film, “Ivans Xtc,” kicking off a string of 20 movies she has overseen, citing a few that were closest to her heart, among them “Septembers of Shiraz.” Markel recalls how she became aware of poaching, partly the product of regularly consulting the section of the CITES (the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species) website that tracks the running population of certain species. She explains why she felt compelled to take action, to create an organization that would marshal its forces, and resources, to stand up to the nefarious operators who kill elephants for their tusks, rhinos for their horns, pangolins for their scales (and their meat), and so on. Markel outlines the Stop Poaching Now! strategy to carry out its mission, and how they have had to adapt to the impact of Covid-19, which has essentially eliminated tourism in Africa, sending the incidence of poaching skyrocketing. So, for example, in mid-August, SPN presented E-Race Extinction, a global event designed to raise awareness about the current poaching circumstance, and raise funds for eight beneficiaries, a number of which will direct monies to hire more rangers, to heighten protection against the poachers. (https://www.stoppoaching-now.org, https://www.facebook.com/stoppoachingnowofficial, https://www.instagram.com/stoppoachingnowofficial/)



ALSO: I spoke briefly with Patrick Verdugo, co-founder of Two Shepherds Taproom, Tampa’s  new bar/dog park combination that’s distinctive by way of not only featuring a large, fenced-in space outside, but also offering an air-conditioned, indoor area for the dogs and their owners. Verdugo explained how the enterprise got its name (Verdugo has an Australian shepherd named Cooper, while co-founder Ross O’Bryan has a German shepherd, Hobbes, pictured), and how it works to visit the Taproom, including uploading—or simply bringing—your dog’s vaccination records, before being allowed to enter the park; as part of their sophisticated system, Two Shepherds will notify an owner when their pooch is due for new shots. (https://twoshepherdstaproom.com, https://www.instagram.com/twoshepherdstaproom/, https://www.facebook.com/twoshepherdstaproom

COMEDY CORNER:  Nick DiPaolo’s “Animal Activists” (https://www.nickdip.com)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  The Eels’  “I Like Birds”


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