"People’s minds need to be reprogrammed with compassion
and empathy for all animals – humans and nonhumans"

Sangita Iyer, Founding Executive Director

Sangita Iyer is a multiple award-winning journalist, and a nature and wildlife documentary filmmaker. She's also the director and producer of the globally acclaimed epic documentary, "Gods in Shackles", which was nominated at the United Nations, and has garnered 13 international awards. Sangita received the "Nari Shakthi Puraskaar" - Women Power Award - the highest award for women making a difference in India from the country's President for her courage to expose the plight of captive elephants that are being exploited for profit behind the veil of culture and religion.
Read more about Sangita Iyer here.
Our Board of Directors:


Vice President

Ganesh is a vegan and passionate animal rights activist, involved in various outreach and awareness events. Having been aware of the acute issues & plight of elephants in India for some time now, Ganesh is committed to provide a meaningful contribution and support, to end the practise of capturing elephants and their use in religious festivities and human entertainment. Ganesh is a business and IT strategy professional with over 20 years of experience. His talents, energy and passion is invaluable to VFAES.



Nancy Lee Ma, CPA is the CEO and Founder of Crystal Clear Profits, Inc. She comes to VFAES with over 30 years of experience as a CPA and working with non-profit organizations, including small local non-profits and a national wildlife animal sanctuary with $3M in revenue. She has served in various financial capacities for the non-profit organizations as a board member and volunteer. Her passion is to raise human consciousness of the planet, and to educate the public on caring for our environmental resources and preservation of all endangered species.



Growing up in Hawaii, Alex was immersed in and developed an appreciation for wildlife and the environment from an early age. This passion developed into a lifetime of volunteering and advocacy and inspired her to work with wildlife organizations in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Sumatra, and in Los Angeles, where she currently lives. Alex brings with her a background of marketing, community development, and project management which, along with on the ground experience, allows for a broad perspective on issues pertaining to elephants in captivity and human culture that they currently exist within.



A native Oregonian, Gina has had a lifelong passion for animals. Living on a ranch in SW Washington, she has given horses, dogs and other animals free range to be what they are. Gina has been instrumental in helping place Nosey, a circus elephant, at the Tennessee Elephant Sanctuary. Gina fulfilled her lifelong dream in March 2018 by spending a month in Thailand and volunteering at various elephant organizations, helping Asian elephants. She says it was a life changing experience. Gina has an extensive background in marketing & community involvement, bringing fresh ideas that will help with outreach campaigns.


Marketing Specialist

Ann is a marketer, writer, producer and lifelong animal lover. Traveling in Southeast Asia a few years ago opened her eyes, heart and spirit to the plight of Asian elephants. When she decided to apply her skills in service of her passions - wildlife conservation, animal welfare, and climate change - she was drawn to VFAES, which unites all three. Plus, the documentary Gods In Shackles by VFAES founder Sangita Iyer, touched every empathetic nerve. As a professional communicator, she immediately recognized that stunning media, a compelling story, and a dynamic storyteller had the power to propel the mission and message far and wide and drive real change. She jumped at the opportunity to be a part of ending this practice of elephant slavery.

Our Advisory Board and Patrons:



Hariraj is an activist-Lawyer practicing at the High Court of Kerala and spearheads the litigations pending before the said court demanding better deal for elephants in general and captive elephants in particular. Having witnessed disturbing cruelty meted out to the captive elephants in South India he and his friends have taken on to themselves the duty of alerting the law against such misdeeds. While multi pronged attack is waged in various courts he was deeply moved by Sangita Iyer's efforts to sensitize and educate people regarding the illegality and immorality of the system of maintaining captive elephants in South India.  


Hariraj is a great asset to VFAES in guiding us with a strategic and methodical approach in ending elephant torture.



Leslie Kane holds a doctorate in Mental Health Counseling and currently works in private practice working with adults in outpatient treatment. She appreciates her work as a facilitator to growth and change and finds her work deeply satisfying.

When Leslie isn't practicing therapy you will often find her devouring literature from well established scientists on Asian and African elephants. In 2013, she was honored to work in wild elephant research with world renown scientist, Caitlin O'Connell,whom has dedicated over 25 years of her life to this work. In Namibia, Leslie research duties included behavioral observation, telemetry, and dung collection for DNA analysis and parasitic investigation.


Professor of ecology at the Indian Institute of Science

Raman obtained his PhD from the same institute in 1985 for his pioneering research on the ecology of interactions between Asian elephants and people. While he continues to work on the ecology, behavior and conservation of elephants, he has expanded his research interests to tropical forest ecology and climate change. His primary conservation interests lie in promoting sustainable landscapes for elephants and biodiversity.

Sukumar has also contributed extensively to Indian government policy on conservation, and has been a member of the Indian Board for Wildlife (chaired by the Prime Minister) and the Project Elephant Steering Committee. He was Chair of the IUCN/SSC Asian Elephant Specialist Group during 1997-2004.


Director Veterinary Programs and Research for Elephant Care International

Dr. Susan Mikota is the Director Veterinary Programs and Research for Elephant Care International (www.elephantcare.org), a non-profit organization that she also co-founded. Elephant Care International is dedicated to the healthcare, welfare, and conservation of elephants. Their open-access website provides an extensive elephant bibliography, medication formulary and other resources. Dr. Mikota has worked in Nepal, Myanmar, Indonesia, India, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. She has written numerous scientific articles and book chapters and co-edited Biology, Medicine, and Surgery of Elephants, the first modern veterinary textbook dedicated to elephants. Mikota is a member of the IUCN Asian Elephant and Wildlife Health Specialist Groups. In 2017 she became a Diplomate of the American College of Animal Welfare, a specialty acknowledged by the American Veterinary Medical Association.



Margrit is the world’s leading animal healer and communicator, and the author of & internationally acclaimed books translated into several languages. Her trailblazing books Healing for Horses and Hands-on Healing for Pets were the first publications in the world to cover the topic of healing energy (including communication), with animals.


Margrit has experience of working with a wide variety of animals and is a highly sought after writer, teacher, and speaker worldwide, as well as offering private consultations, workshops, clinics, retreats, and spiritual coaching sessions related to human-animal relationships. Over the years Margrit has been a featured expert in several TV programmes and given numerous radio interviews about her specialist topics. Margrit’s TV experience including as a featured expert in Animal Roadshow (Animal Planet), Pet Nation (Sky HD 1) and Animal Allies (BBC).



Dan views life as a gift, a beautiful spiritual journey. He meditates frequently, is a vegan and believes that we humans, as custodians of the planet, have a responsibility to live and make choices from a foundation of love and compassion.A fundamental part of who Dan is at the very core is his lifelong love of animals. He is an empath - can't help but feel what an animal is feeling. He says he cannot and will not stand idly by while they are suffering. Acting is Dan's passion and it's a career he feels truly blessed and grateful to have, but animal conservation is his purpose in life. Happily, one facilitates the other very well, certainly in terms of raising awareness.




Rula Lenska is a renowned and sought after actor, presenter and passionate campaigner for wildlife especially elephants who have been a life long passion !!


She says, “I have had the honour of spending many glorious moments in their majestic presence and am ever more in awe of these gentle giants and cannot imagine a world without them. I am thrilled to be asked to be a patron and will do what I can to further the beliefs and compassionate workings for their welfare through Sangita and her dedicated team of elephant saviours both wild and in captivity.


I was deeply moved by the film Gods in Shackles!! And even more moved on meeting the very special Sangita who made the film. another powerful iconic woman to join the ranks of my heroines. Her energy is compelling and it was this and her passion that made me want to be part of VFAES.”



As a Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Animal Welfare Group I have long made it my mission to raise awareness of animal suffering, campaign against cruelty and seek to protect wildlife as well as our environment. 

“Asian elephants sadly face human persecution both in terms of their capture for cruel entertainment and loss of habitat through urbanisation and man’s encroachment. As intelligent and beautiful animals, elephants as a species deserve our protection.


VFAES is a 501(c)(3) organization with a vision to protect endangered Asian elephants and their habitats in India, while also ensuring that tribal people and those living near the forest fringes have their basic needs met, so they will be inspired to coexist peacefully with these magnificent animals.

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Phone: 1-833-8323787 (VFAESUS)

E-mail: support@vfaes.org

Address: 3415 South Sepulveda Blvd.,

Suite 1100, Los Angeles, California

VFAES Charitable Tax ID: 47-3943896

Postal Code: 90034