4 October 2021
We're delighted to announce the appointment of our first ever Youth Ambassador outside of the UK. 13-year-old Ayan Kamath Mehra, from Singapore, is a talented artist who raises awareness and funds for conservation, through the sale of his sketches, postcards and gift tags. All donations go to Thula Thula, a private game reserve in South Africa.
The inspiring and dedicated youngster has already adopted five rhinos there - Baby Lisa, Thabo, Ntombi, Mona and the new born baby rhino Sissi, who was born in March 2020 during COVID-19. Ayan has also adopted five elephants - Nana, the original matriarch; Frankie, the late matriarch; Gobisa, Frankie's mate; Mandla, Nana's son and the largest bull in the herd, and most recently - Marula, the new matriarch. He also adopted Savannah, Thula Thula's first cheetah!
The adoption funding pays for rhino, elephant and cheetah security and well-being including 24/7 ranger protection and medicines or vet fees when the animals get sick, like Frankie the matriarch elephant did last December.
Born Free’s Youth Ambassadors work with the charity to realise Born Free’s mission by growing brand awareness through peer to peer communications and, as influencers, engaging their personal networks, educating audiences, supporting calls to action, promoting appeals and events and bringing the youth perspective to Born Free’s strategy and decision making.
In addition, this programme offers opportunities for young people to engage with our work, while learning about wildlife and gaining skills to support future careers – either in conservation/animal welfare or as wildlife champions within other industries.
Ambassadors are selected from within our most engaged supporters and is limited to four Junior and four Youth Ambassadors at any one time.
Annual Junior and Youth Ambassador days are held in Spring each year, during which each Ambassador has the chance to meet the programmatic teams, and work with Born Free to create an individual annual action plan for engagement that benefits both the Ambassador and Born Free’s upcoming campaigns and activities.
Laura Gosset, Head of Education, Born Free, said: “Ayan is an eloquent and articulate young man who has a deep compassion for wildlife and the world around him. His commitment to supporting conservation efforts is outstanding and will lead to a very bright future."
Ayan added: “The reason I am so honoured and excited to become a Born Free Youth Ambassador is because their drive to champion wildlife mirrors my own passion to make a difference in conservation. With Born Free, I hope to use my art, my writing, and my voice to have an even bigger impact, not only for African rhinos but also other endangered species. I have learned a lot from Born Free’s journey to end captivity and look forward to a world where we can successfully conserve the diversity of our animal kingdom where they truly belong – in the wild."
Virginia McKenna OBE, Co-founder and Trustee of Born Free concluded “My hope, as it is so often, is in young people, with ideas of compassion. Not in an airy-fairy way. Realistic compassion – what can be achieved. I’m so encouraged by how much they really care.”