International Women's Day interview with donor Lisa Cochrane

In recognition of International Women’s Day, we interviewed International Elephant Project donor Lisa Cochrane about what inspires her to give.

Lisa is a major contributor to the International Elephant Project providing ongoing annual funding to support the Way Kambas Elephant Response Unit (ERU) which was established in 2019. The ERU is tasked with monitoring and protecting the northern and northeastern sections of the Way Kambas National Park, home to Critically Endangered Sumatran elephants.

For Lisa, funding of the ERU represents an opportunity to commit to the long-term outcomes of a conservation project.

“I am passionate about supporting one program and seeing it develop”, says Lisa. “Over the past three years it has been extremely rewarding to see the presence of the ERU in the National Park having a measurable impact. I’m kept regularly updated on the project through quarterly reports that detail the patrols that have been undertaken and illegal activities encountered. There has certainly been a decline in illegal activities since the program started.”

Lisa’s involvement with the International Elephant Project came about through her father’s involvement with The Orangutan Project, a sister project to the International Elephant Project. Talking about her father it is clear that he had an immense impact on her life.

“Dad loved nature, the environment and all living things. He was aware that without forests all living animals, including humans could not survive.

“My dad was passionate about orangutans and habitat protection,” says Lisa. “He didn’t have much money while he was working, but after he retired and sold his business he decided he wanted to give back and support orangutan conservation. He first visited Indonesia as a tourist to see the situation first-hand, then in 2005, at the age of 60, he established the Orangutan Habitat Foundation in order that he could help protect rainforest habitat.

“When researching organisations to support dad came across The Orangutan Protect and immediately connected with Leif and his long-term vision for the protection of orangutans. It was through that relationship that I became aware of the International Elephant Project.

“As Dad was already supporting the orangutans, I saw an opportunity to make a difference through funding a new elephant program that needed support to get it off the ground.”

In addition to supporting the International Elephant Project, Lisa is also a major contributor to Zoo’s Victoria Leadbetter Possum and Regent Honeyeater programs and with Andrew McLean’s Human-Animal Learning Program (HELP).

In considering which organisations to support, above all else Lisa looks for transparency and follow through on her donation.

“For me it’s about the long-term relationship,” says Lisa. “I want to connect with the people involved and to find out about their long-term plans and aspirations and how I, as a philanthropist, might be able to help them achieve those goals.”

Thank you, Lisa, for your support and long-term commitment to protecting and conserving the elephants of Way Kambas!

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