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    April 23, 2011- World Wildlife Fund
The government of Nepal announced an increase in the population of greater one-horned rhinos. The National Rhino Census revealed a count of 534 rhinos in Nepal, marking an increase of 99 rhinos from the 435 recorded in 2008. The total count of 534 includes: 95 new rhinos, marking a total of 503 in Chitwan National Park, the oldest protected area in Nepal 24 rhinos in Bardia National Park 7 rhinos in Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve These numbers reflect the success of conservation efforts and are a result of improved rhino protection measures and management of habitat. The census was led by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC), and supported by WWF and the National Trust for Nature Conservation. WWF provided both technical and financial support. Positive results, but conservation efforts must increase The result of the rhino census is a strong signal of the government’s commitment to biodiversity conservation in Nepal, which is a result of diverse partnerships starting at the grassroots level. WWF is encouraged by the positive results, but calls for even stronger antipoaching measures and protection of habitat because poaching still remains a serious threat to rhinos due to demand for their horns. "We must remain vigilant because the gains made since the last rhino census could easily be lost if we are complacent,” said Shubash Lohani, deputy director for WWF’s Eastern Himalayas program. “Rhinos are vulnerable to illegal wildlife trade and we must do all we can to ensure that they receive safe passage into the future.”


September 2010

Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo

Banovich gorilla trekking with guides, Rwanda

There are approximately 720 Mountain Gorillas left on earth; they live only in two small parks, one in Uganda and one that includes a corner of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Core Focus: Critical Attention & Support in order to ensure a healthy future for this special animal, the gorillas are monitored on a regular basis, and are provided life-saving medical care, have health studies, and all is done to build local capacity in veterinary medicine and ecosystem health.  

  "My friend Jack Hanna had introduced me to the great work that Dr. Mike Cranfield and his staff are doing at the MVP and having visited their facility in Rwanda, I saw first-hand that their work is absolutely essential for the long-term survival of the mountain gorillas." John Banovich  

  BWF & Safari Club International Foundation
Elmenteita Dispensary
Central Rift Valley, Kenya  

Banovich in the classroom at Primary School - Soysambu Conservancy, Kenya

Legend of The Windy Ridge Runner

Imagine a valley filled with green set at the foot of the Rocky Mountains hundreds of years ago. Thousands of Buffalo grazed on the tall grasses. Bears, mountain lions, and wolves stalked their prey on the valley floor and in the mountains above. During the summer, Native Americans came to hunt buffalo and elk. They had journeyed far to reach their hunting grounds in the Rocky Mountain West. Fathers sat around fires telling stories to their sons. Some of those stories survive to this day. According to legend, a phantom walks the Rocky precipices of the high mountain peaks. Hunters have sought him from one generation to the next, but he always eludes them. Even the proudest, best hunter has only caught but a glimpse out of the corner of his eye of this Great White Bull Elk. They call him the Windy Ridge Runner, because he runs the Rocky precipices, leaving no trace of tracks behind. His bugle call challenges all to find him. The land has changed since the Native Americans hunted the valleys of Wyoming. Small towns now dot the landscape. Winter snows invite those who love snowmobiling and skiing. Summer brings crowds of tourists who want to catch a glimpse of the majestic snowcapped peaks of the Rocky Mountains. There's something spiritual about this land. When all is quiet, you can almost hear the bugle of the elk. He may come to you in your dreams--that is the great one, the Windy Ridge Runner. You can see him in your mind’s eye prancing along the edges of the rocks. The wind whispers gently and the water roars loudly. Or is that the call of the elk? You look up, and there he is for just a moment, a second, perched on a ledge. You see, it is true, what the natives have said about him. His antlers are the largest ever seen, the tips lightly brushed in white. In an instant, he is gone. You wake up to realize it was all just a dream. When the fireside stories about the Great White Bull began to fade, someone else would mysteriously catch another glimpse of his amazing rack. They would bring pictures to prove their stories. The Native American tribes say the Great White Bull is just a glimpse of what once was--a reminder of an ancient past. His story will never die, as long as there are Native Americans passing it on to their sons. He will live on as artisans carve the image of his antlers into native wood. The spirit of the great Mountain West, the Great White Bull, invites you to come and see his land. You will breathe the fresh mountain air and see the unspoiled beauty of glacier peaks, winding rivers, and lofty pines. So come and see. He will allow it as long as you leave no trace behind and show respect for his domain. **ROCKY MOUNTAINS, November 5, 2008** The 2008 holiday season is upon us. It's been a long time coming, but for outdoorsmen and wine lovers around the world looking for something special, the launch of Windy Ridge Gallery ( is finally upon us. From wine racks to Christmas ornaments, nobody has seen anything quite like this. Windy Ridge is taking us all by storm and here's why; Wine conoissuers with a passion for the outdoors now have a truly creative choice when it comes to displaying their wine selections. These unique products created by the by Italian wildlife artist, Ben Barto, are handcrafted and cast from original antlers and horns from animals in various parts of the world. The word on the street is that people love the idea that they can now display some wonderful trophies in their homes while being cognizant and assured that no animals were harmed for origination for any of these products. The Christmas ornaments you will find at the Windy Ridge Gallery are even more exquisite. They are so fine in detail and color it's hard to believe you're not actually holding a miniature size animal in the palm of your hand. They are truly some of the most precious little figures you'll find anywhere that will add style, value, and great taste to your home and Christmas decor. The line of ornaments include wildlife figurines such as deer, elk, antlers, frogs, foxes, wolves, bears, birds, horses and even frogs. Each piece is meticulously hand painted, ensuring that every little detail is as true to life as the animal that inspired it. For the wine enthusiast, no matter what type of wine bottle display you are looking for, whether it be multi-bottle or single-bottle holders, you will be pleased with what you see at the Windy Ridge Gallery. Their wine bottle holders and bigger wine racksalso include a variety of wildife including a bull moose, black bear, bull elk, mule deer, whitetail deer, buffalo, largemouth bass and more. Windy Ridge's large signature piece, Windy Ridge Runner, was named after the legendary bull elk said to inhabit the Wind Rivers of the Rocky Mountains, where the Windy Ridge Gallery is based. The Windy Ridge Runner is the phenominal beast (also known as the Great White Bull) thats been noted to bugle during the dusk of morning along the jagged cliffs of the Rockies. (After hearing so much about this mythical creature, we find it to be a great story and the epitome of nature's glory and finesse. It's certainly worthy of relating such products to so we wanted to brag a little more about it. And just some FYI, it also earned the nickname "Great White Bull" because of the noteworthy tips of his monstrous antlers. Few have been able to capture a crisp, clear image of this mythical stud. They say he's impossible to track because of the terrain he chooses to void off hunters. He consistently evades any given encounter with humans and many of the native americans believe he's just a reflection of what used to roam the Rockies, only appearing once in a while to remind us all that he is still king, and that his greatness represents the Rocky Mountains.) Shoppers can also choose from other trophies like the Red Hole Muley, Desert Monarch, Nebraska Cornhusker, and the Safari Five. All of these items areas close to the real thing as you can get. In fact, many mistake the replica for the original piece and vice-versa. One of the most outstanding prizes offered by The Windy Ridge Gallery is the Soaring Spirits wine rack. This stunning replica of a soaring eagle was created from a large shed moose antler. It and makes for a perfect tabletop or corner display as the point protruding from the back enables it to naturally stand on its own. Soaring spirits is truly one of a kind. will guide you to where you will see a combination of wine racks, Christmas ornaments, and some beautiful candle holders. Whether you're looking for Christmas gifts or wine promotional gifts, they all can provide or add to a unique, rustic look to any cabin, restaurant or home. The 2008 holiday season is here. Give a handcrafted, wildlife art piece like the ones found at the Windy Ridge Gallery that symbolize quality and passion that is second to none. Show your loved ones how much thought you put into their gift. After all, it's the thought that counts and this is your chance to prove it. Ben Barto has been re-creating wildlife for over 30 years. It's his deep respect and passion for wildlife that motivates him to give every animal the credit it deserves by making each piece so cherishable and true to life.