David Shepherd CBE 1931 – 2017

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of wildlife artist and conservationist David Shepherd, FRSA, CBE, founder and president of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF). He died peacefully overnight after a 10 week fight in hospital with Parkinsons Disease.

For over 50 years David has dedicated his life to protecting some of the world’s most iconic and endangered animals. Using his talent as an artist to generate funds for their protection he inspired hundreds of others to follow and, in 1984, established his own wildlife foundation to give something back to the animals that had given him so much success as an artist.

Voted by a BBC poll as one of the most effective and popular small wildlife charities in Britain, DSWF is a flexible non-bureaucratic NGO funding far reaching projects dedicated to the long-term conservation of critically endangered mammals in the wild, fighting wildlife crime through training and supporting the brave men and women on the front line, and engaging and benefiting rural people who share their environment.

With a deep fondness for Africa’s elephants many of David’s most iconic paintings are of the world’s largest land mammal including ‘The Ivory is Theirs’ and ‘Wise Old Elephant’. ‘Tiger Fire’ was one of his first major fund-raising successes, raising £127,000 for Indira Gandhi’s Operation Tiger in 1973. In 2014 he painted an elephant onto one of his palettes for his Foundation’s 30th Anniversary black tie dinner raising £50,000 for conservation projects in Africa and Asia.

Speaking at the time David said: “What more could an artist wish for but to repay my debt to the animals I painted.”

The Ivory Is Theirs by David ShepherdThe Ivory is Theirs by David Shepherd

As well as his wildlife and landscape paintings, David is perhaps lesser known for his portraits, which include Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, HE Sheikh Zayed of Abu Dhabi and, the most significant to him, his vast portrayal of ‘Christ on the Battlefield’. David was also passionate about steam locomotives, in the past owning two 120 ton steam giants and establishing a registered steam railway charity.

His life as an artist and conservationist featured in several TV programmes during the 70s, 80s & 90s including the BBC’s ‘Man Who Loves Giants’ (1972) and ‘This is Your Life’ (1990). His books include ‘David Shepherd, An Artist in Conservation’ (1992) and ‘Painting with David Shepherd’ (2004). His awards include an Honorary Degree in Fine Arts by the Pratt Institute in New York (1971), the Order of the Golden Ark by HRH The Prince of The Netherlands (1973), Member of Honour of WWF and OBE (1979), FRSA (1986), Order of Distinguished Service, Zambia (1988) and in June 2008 he was awarded a CBE for his services to conservation.  In 2012 David was awarded the Conservation Award in the Wetnose Animal Aid Awards, followed by the True Englishman Award at the St George’s Day Club annual gathering in April that year.  He was also invited to open Zambia’s first elephant orphanage nursery at a ceremony officiated by Dr Guy Scott Vice-President of Zambia. Just last year David was awarded the Animal Hero Lifetime Achievement Award, receiving two standing ovations as he collected his award at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London. In 2007 David helped establish the DSWF Wildlife Artist of the Year competition which runs annually in London attracting artists from around the world generating funds to help save endangered wildlife. His Foundation’s Global Canvas art competition has also been inspiring young artists and conservationists since 2004 and his Foundation are launching an Art Ambassadors programme this November at Christies.

David felt motivated in his fight for wildlife and he was always determined to do more.

“David’s passion for wildlife and the role of man in its demise infuriated and inspired him. He was dedicated, tenacious and outspoken, a champion of animals and the people who worked to protect them. He will be greatly missed,” said DSWF CEO, Karen Botha.

David Shepherd Year of the Tiger Portrait

He leaves a wife, four daughters, nine grandchildren and one great grandchild and an enduring legacy for wildlife conservation. His family are still very involved in the charity and his artistic talent lives on in his daughter, Mandy Shepherd and grand-daughter Emily Lamb who continue to paint to raise awareness and help DSWF fund conservation projects worldwide. He will be sadly missed by those he inspired and worked with.

For those wishing to make a donation to commemorate David’s life and to help DSWF continue to protect the wildlife that David loved, please call the Foundation Tel: 01483 272323 or click here Thank you.

To view more of David’s artwork funding conservation please click here

A book of condolences will be left in the DSWF office reception in Shalford for those that would like to pay their respects. If you would like to send a message of condolences but are unable to make it to the office please send an email to mandy.gale@davidshepherd.org