First, let me Thank Jeff Harrison for taking the time to answer a few questions about his passion, his mission. Truly someone who is driven to make a change.
What drove you to start Pedaling Against Poaching?
My name is Jeff Harrison. I am really just a regular guy… I am an avid mountain biker, married with no kids, and four wonderful dogs. I live in Arizona, and have discovered a passion for protecting wildlife.
It all began in the fall of 2017, when I stumbled across some images of a baby rhino that was standing next to the corpse of his mother that had been senselessly killed by poachers. My mind raced with thoughts of what this calf had just witnessed. I looked on in horror. I was sickened by the pictures and I began to get very angry. It was at that moment that I realized that we can’t just assume that “someone else” will cure the world of this terrible problem. It was time for me to take action. I really wanted to help, to really make a difference…but how can I juggle the normal day to day life in AZ, and help animals on the other side of the globe? I had to come up with a way…
What are you hoping to accomplish through PAP?
I want to prove that a regular guy, with a regular job, on the other side of the planet, can make a difference. My main focus right now is to increase awareness of the senseless and tragic poaching of Rhinoceros, for their horn. I also aim to help stop the false hype that drives the black market for rhino horns. Rhino Horn currently has a street value that is higher than any illegal drug. The trafficking of Rhino horn is fueled by wealthy crime syndicates and global terrorists, and it is used as a black market form of currency that is incredibly far reaching. I commit to spread the word about the Rhino poaching epidemic, and to let people know how they can help fight the good fight. These Critically Endangered Animals are in desperate need of our help now more than ever.
To ride my mountain bike the equivalent in miles, (per calendar year) the length of Africa, from the Northern most point to the Southern tip. Over 5000 miles. I will be riding most of my miles in and around my home state of Arizona. My journey will be logged, with progress updates along the way. Donations can be made based upon miles that I ride on my bike. Donors can select a time period (day/week/month/year) and pledge a monetary amount that will be multiplied by the number of miles compete in the selected time frame.
What has been the most rewarding part of it all?
The most rewarding part of this project is being able to transfer sizable sums of much needed money directly to the best organizations on the ground in Africa. The top three that I donate to at the moment are: The Black Mamba’s Anti Poaching Unit, The Zululand Rhino Orphanage, and Ol Pejeta Preserve. Every penny that I have raised has gone to help support these great people. Emailing them, or calling them to let them know that a wire transfer has been made is by far the most rewarding part. Making a real difference across the globe is what it is all about.
How can people get involved?
The best way to get involved is to start by following me on Instagram and Facebook. I typically post multiple updates per day. Another great place to jump in to help is on my Global Giving donation page. https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/pedaling-against-poaching/ and to visit http://www.helpingrhinos.org. There you can see many ways to help, ranging from a monetary donation, Rhino adoption and ways to support the Black Mambas.
What can children do to help bring awareness to friends and adults about these endangered species?
I think that the best thing children can do, is educate themselves about all endangered animals, and they need to talk about them with adults. More times than not, adults have no idea what’s going on in the world. It will be a strong message when they hear it from a child.
What is your response when someone states -Wild animals in zoo’s are helping save the species?
Some zoo’s are truly making a difference (not as many as people think) but the best ones are part of the species survival program, and they may be the best chance of keeping animals alive. Sadly, many zoo’s are in it just for the money…
How do you deal with the mental, emotional stress upon learning/witnessing the horrors of these beauties?
As far as how to be prepared mentally for witnessing the loss of these animals…I don’t think there’s a single answer for this one. I get super emotional when I am around a living Rhino. Coming up on one that has been poached has to be the most awful thing anyone can witness.
How many miles/hours have you ridden?
10,303 miles 9as of 11.20.19) and I average just over 100 miles per week.
What is your vision for PAP in the coming years?
I am already working on branching out beyond Rhino’s. I will strategically partner with other organizations to help protect other species. Currently we are on average, losing 3 Rhino’s, 96 Elephants, 12 Giraffe and 274 Pangolin per day to the illicit Wildlife Trade. The list of Critically Endangered animals is incredibly long, and every one of them needs our help. I foresee PAP growing into a multi state organization, that continues to develop fundraising events and ideas. I am now officially partnered with Helping Rhinos http://www.helpingrhinos.org. Helping Rhinos is a UK based operation and is on the cutting edge of Rhino conservation. I now sit on the board of directors, and we have some pretty aggressive goals for growing our presence here in the USA.
What is your next big ride?
Black Friday. We will be riding 100 miles off road, in the name of Rhino’s!
Any other detail you want to share or include?
I have to say that this project originally started out as a way for me to give something back. I never expected things to take off quite like they have. I have met so many incredible, like-minded people along the way. I have met some absolute true heroes. I am really looking forward to bigger and better things in the upcoming years! This has become a way of life for me, and I will continue to defend our wildlife for the rest of my life.
I must say it has been an absolute honour and a privilege to hear of your beginnings, your goals, your story… Thank you! Truly an inspiration for those who feel there is nothing we can do if we live great distances from those we want to help.
Hearing of your beginnings will hopefully spur others on, as I feel inspired, to make a difference, not matter how big or small.
We are all deserving of life, togetherMichelle Boomer