Founding: VETPAW was founded by former U.S. Marine Ryan Tate, with a mission to employ post-9/11 U.S. veterans to protect African wildlife from poachers and to help preserve endangered species.

Initial Operations: Began operations in Africa, focusing on anti-poaching efforts and wildlife conservation in East Africa.

Kenya & Tanzania: VETPAW assisted in the formation of Tanzania’s first National Wildlife Crimes Task force, which focused on intelligence gathering and investigatory practices. This task force and its rangers successfully dismantled the poaching network responsible for an estimated 18,000 elephant deaths.

Expansion of Operations: VETPAW continued to expand its operations across Africa, focusing on providing training and support to park rangers and engaging in direct anti-poaching activities. VETPAW set-up its first official operating center in the Limpopo province along South Africa’s Northern border with Zimbabwe while also supporting rangers in the provinces of Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, and Eastern Cape.

Education Courses at South Africa’s Wildlife College:  In collaboration with Six Layer Concepts and Consulting, VETPAW conducted the first classes for African park rangers on the subjects of Human Terrain Mapping and Behavior Pattern Recognition. Curriculum included psychology, physiology, neuroscience, criminology, biometrics, kinesics, and geographical profiling, enabling rangers to de-escalate and mitigate situations without the escalation of force, use of force, or deadly force.

Increased Visibility: The organization featured in various publications, including an article titled “Hearts and Minds and Rhino Horns,” showcasing their efforts in protecting Africa’s “big five”: lions, leopards, giraffes, elephants, and rhinos.

Rocky the Rhino: The population of white rhinos on a private reserve in the Northern Limpopo Province was once over 100 rhinos but due to poaching only one rhino remained. When VETPAW’s veterans heard the story they successfully fundraised the amount needed to relocate the rhino bull to a vast and safe sanctuary. Within days the team introduced him into his new home and named him Rocky for his perseverance. He still lives safely in this sanctuary joined by three of his calves born in this ecosystem.

Eastern Cape: With the pressure of poaching syndicates creeping towards the southern provinces of South Africa, VETPAW deployed a team to the Eastern Cape of South Africa. This team improved security plans for reserves in the region and developed new anti-poaching ranger teams for reserves in need.

Black Rhino Range Expansion Project (BRREP): VETPAW team members developed a security plan for Buffalo Kloof game reserve, which was then selected by the WWF as the top of all reserves applying for acceptance into the BRREP program. Once accepted the WWF and Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency began relocating at-risk black rhinos into Buffalo Kloof Game Reserve. The offspring from these rhinos will in time be distributed throughout South Africa helping to strengthen blood lines and bolster the black rhino population.

Community Engagement: VETPAW emphasized a holistic approach to conservation, involving community education and empowerment initiatives to foster local support for wildlife protection.

Publication of Newsletters: The organization began publishing quarterly digests, sharing insights into their ongoing projects and successes in conservation efforts.

Over 100 U.S. and international Post-9/11 veterans deployed to Africa

Experience Brochure: Released an “Experience Brochure,” inviting supporters to witness firsthand the impact of their conservation efforts and the role of veterans in these initiatives.

Continued Advocacy and Support: Maintained a strong presence in wildlife conservation through various initiatives, reinforcing their commitment to protecting endangered species and ecosystems.

Veteran Mental Health: Highlighted the dual mission of improving veteran mental health through active participation in conservation efforts, recognizing the therapeutic benefits of such engagements.

10th Anniversary: Celebrated ten years of dedication to wildlife conservation with special events and campaigns, including sharing “10 things about VETPAW” to raise awareness and support for their mission.


Launch of VETPAW K9 Training Academy

Throughout these ten years, VETPAW has demonstrated resilience and adaptability, facing challenges head-on while making significant contributions to wildlife conservation and providing valuable opportunities for veterans to continue serving in a meaningful capacity.

Your support is what has kept us going the last 10 years and we have so much planned for the next 10. Become a monthly donor to continue supporting our mission to protect African wildlife.