By: Dr. R. Matilde Mésavage

Dr. R. Matilde Mésavage

Dr. R. Matilde Mésavage is using her IRA and her estate plan to protect Africa's most incredible species.

My interest in African wildlife grew straight out of my early captivation with animals at a very young age. As far back as memory can go, I remember loving animals: From my first trip to the seashore at age four, when I discovered sea creatures, to my first guinea pig who gave birth to twins, purchased for a half dollar by a neighbor for her daughter—I was smitten. When they visited again, I was horrified to learn that they had eaten my guinea pigs!

Although I grew up in a meat-eating home, my subsequent research on animals awakened me to the fact that the most recent scientific studies in evolution reveal that all animals, including humans, are biologically linked in their sentience. From then on, I could no longer eat them.

Then, there was the procession of stray cats always evicted by my father, and my box turtle. While in graduate school, I finally acquired two Burmese cats, whom I named Jules and Jim, after the film by Truffaut. They lived with me for 18 years. I have not been cat-less since.

However, it was when upon discovering the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) that I fell in love with elephants and the work the keepers were doing to save them. I began fostering my first orphan baby elephant named Ndotto in 2015 and I am now fostering 12; as well as two rhinos.

While reading Dame Daphne Sheldrick’s exceptional book, An African Love Story, I learned that the African Wildlife Foundation helped fund the DSWT from the beginning, through their David Sheldrick Memorial Appeal, before it became an independent entity. So, my interest in and respect for AWF grew organically out of my involvement with the DSWT.

The fragility of African wildlife brings home the urgency of supporting AWF in their efforts to protect animals from poaching and other forms of exploitation. It is a logical step to connect one’s values with one’s investments, which is what I have been doing for as long as I have been aware of their exceptional work in protecting these endangered species.

I am supporting their work today, through a qualified charitable distribution from my IRA, and for future generations through a gift in my estate plan. My desire to help these animals in a world living under a manmade apocalyptical menace is of primary importance to me, and AWF is doing a stellar job.

To learn more about ways you can support AWF’s important work, contact Jon Apfelbaum (Eastern USA) at 202 939 3317 or

Federal Tax ID Number: 52-0781390