Celebrating 35 years of conservation at the Wildlife Ball

Dame Judi Dench, actress Pam St Clements, singer Laura Wright and cricketer David Gower joined more than 300 people at The Dorchester in London to celebrate David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation’s 35th anniversary at the annual Wildlife Ball.

The dazzling annual event this year made sure to keep conservation at the heart of the evening, with host and leading conservationist and journalist Mark Carwardine hosting the night, using his extensive knowledge of wildlife and wonderful anecdotes of his times with David Shepherd to remind all the guests what the event is truly all about: conservation.

Host of the evening Mark Carwardine

The ‘Out of Africa’ themed event was opened with a performance by the incredibly talented West End Kids, who have performed for the Queen at her Jubilee, Chelsea Flower Show, the Olympic Games and much more. Their energetic interpretation of the Lion King started the evening off with a bang.

Powerful speeches by DSWF CEO Karen Botha and DSWF Head of Programmes & Policy and David Shepherd’s granddaughter Georgina ‘Peanut’ Lamb reminded all in the room of how important is it to continue the fight to protect endangered species across the world, with an inspirational message speaking of the power that resides with the influencers in the room.

Peanut said: “In this room tonight, we have wildlife heroes who have dedicated their lives to making a difference. From the policy halls of governments calling for the closure of ivory markets around the world, to the plains of Africa, where they witness the heart of the poaching crisis as they extract traumatised elephant calves from their dead mothers’ sides. We need to stand shoulder to shoulder with them and never waver in our promise to do more.

“My grandfather, David, taught us compassion and how to wholeheartedly and unashamedly fall in love with the natural world but it was my mother, Melanie, who ran the Foundation for over 25 years and grew it into what it is today, who taught us how to be strong and that we must take brave steps along often difficult paths.

“DSWF is a beautiful combination of those two things.  We provide an unwavering voice for conservation and are steadfast in our commitment to supporting real conservation efforts and the brave men and women who are having a real impact in keeping some of the planets most vulnerable and threatened species alive.”

Please see below to watch the inspiring film that Peanut showed during her speech, reaffirming DSWF’s commitment to continuing to protect endangered wildlife.

The prestigious event celebrates art and wildlife together, continuing the legacy started by David Shepherd, and this night was no exception; incredible pieces by members of the Shepherd family were auctioned, alongside many unique artworks generously donated by artists and friends of the Foundation. All proceeds from the night go directly to helping to protect some of the most precious endangered species across Africa and Asia.

Avril Shepherd with a David Shepherd original painting

A particular highlight of the auction was an incredible collection of ‘Sketch for Wildlife’ paintings created by Emily Lamb, wildlife artist and David Shepherd’s granddaughter.

Earlier this year, Emily launched the Sketch for Wildlife movement on Instagram, painting one 30-minute sketch a day and selling it for £100, 100% donated to wildlife. So far this year she has raised over £20,000 to help wildlife, and especially for the Wildlife Ball she created 10 paintings from this series.

Each painting was available individually in the silent auction and they led to bidding wars as guests were so keen to own their own from the series. Emily will be ending this project on 31st December 2019 so this will be one of the last chances to own one of your own. Take a look at Emily’s Instagram account to find out more.

Following thousands of online votes, the winner of the David Shepherd Conservation Award 2019 was announced as Patrick Agaba, from Uganda, who was nominated by DSWF’s ground-based conservation partners, the Uganda Conservation Foundation. Patrick is a dedicated campaigner for conservation and has been directly credited for the success of the Recovery of Murchison Falls project that he manages, and that has seen a dramatic turnaround in wildlife numbers in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda. Patrick won £1,000, a David Shepherd print and a trophy. The David Shepherd Conservation Award prize was kindly supported this year by Helen Clifford Law. See below to hear Patrick’s delighted acceptance speech:

The evening concluded with a fundraising auction led by expert auctioneer Charles Hanson. The three lots on sale represented the Shepherd family dynasty: an original unique watercolour tiger by David Shepherd (who usually only painted in oil), an original painting of a dramatic scene of bull elephants entitled ‘Savuti Skies’ by Mandy Shepherd, David’s daughter, and a powerful painting of lions called ‘Brothers’ by Emily Lamb.

huge thank you to all who attended; to our guests, performers, artists, auction donors, sponsors, volunteers and staff, who were all part of making the evening so special. Because of you, the evening raised over £160,000 to together continue the fight against wildlife crime. We are touched and sincerely grateful for the impact that your part played will have on protecting some of the world’s most precious and endangered species.

If you would like to hear more about next year’s event, please call Susie Baxter on 01483 272 323.