Stars Align at Winter Wildlife Ball

Oscar-winning actress Dame Judi Dench, top science and wildlife presenter Liz Bonnin and former England cricket captain David Gower joined more than 300 guests at London’s The Dorchester on Friday evening for the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation’s Winter Wildlife Ball.

The prestigious event in Mayfair is an annual celebration of art and wildlife and raises thousands of pounds for conservation every year. All proceeds from the star-studded night will go towards the Foundation’s work fighting wildlife crime, protecting endangered species and engaging with communities on the ground across Africa and Asia.

Science and wildlife presenter Liz Bonnin said: “I have seen at first hand the desperate fight for survival of so many of our iconic animals and the devastating destruction of our planet’s wild habitats.

“The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation is working tirelessly to give endangered species a future in our world and I truly believe that if wildlife is to stand a chance, we must all come together and play a part in protecting them. We must make our voices heard, before it’s too late.”

Guests were treated to entertainment from MOBO award winning star Jamelia, South African soloist Brown Lindiwe Mkhize with a stunning rendition of ‘The Circle of Life’ and Mezzo-soprano and DSWF Ambassador Laura Wright – fresh from her performance at the Invictus Games – singing a moving version of ‘Imagine’.

Karen Botha, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation’s CEO, told guests the Foundation had had a busy year, working from grass roots to the world stage, continuing its vital mission to save endangered wildlife.

“This year our funding has made an enormous positive difference to conservation efforts in the areas where we invest. Our project partners are using every pound and penny we invest in them to fight wildlife crime, to protect endangered species by securing and developing habitats for species to grow and thrive on and to engage with local communities most affected by wildlife issues, ensuring that they are integral to providing solutions to the problems they face in the ground,” she said.

“But tens of thousands of elephants are still being slaughtered for their ivory every year, while tigers edge closer and closer to extinction. Without serious intervention, we could see what has been described as the world’s sixth mass extinction. The situation is now critical.”

Karen concluded by introducing the premiere of the Foundation’s new short film ‘The Art of Survival’ capturing its mission, the plight of wildlife and the beauty in communities who are most affected by wildlife crime issues. Produced at no cost to the Foundation by freelance videographer Tristan Kermode, we would like to thank our kind sponsor and Tristan for his incredible film-making talent, commitment and pro-bono hours invested in creating this powerful asset. Watch the film below!

Following thousands of online votes, the winner of the David Shepherd Conservation Award ‘Conservation Champion 2018’ was announced as Surenkhuu Luvsan, from Mongolia, who was nominated by the Foundation’s project partners, the Snow Leopard Trust. Surenkhuu is a dedicated campaigner for snow leopards and won £1,000 for her project and a trophy. The ‘Conservation Champion’ prize was kindly supported this year by Helen Clifford in memory of her father who loved David’s work and was passionate about wildlife.

Speaking at the ball, Georgina Lamb, the Foundation’s Head of Programmes and Policy and David Shepherd’s granddaughter, said that despite the colossal challenges ahead, there was still hope: “The hope that by investing in future generations, children will grow up with the simple ingrained belief that wildlife have a value but are not a currency.

“The hope that business leaders and industry tycoons will join the fight to use their influence to leverage deals that trade in ethical exchange, not commercial greed. The hope that individuals will stand up and join a global movement for change, not simply stand by as observers watching the world’s wildlife vanish. And of course, the hope that is inspired by those who came before us, Grandad and his passion, enthusiasm and love for wildlife – a legacy that we now have a duty to uphold.”

The evening concluded with a fundraising auction led by TV antiques expert and auctioneer Charlie Ross. Top lots included an original pencil sketch by the charity’s late founder David Shepherd and a beautiful elephant painting created live on the night by artist Matt Shapira, as well as stunning artworks by Mandy Shepherd and Emily Lamb – David’s daughter and granddaughter.

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 £185,000 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 Rachel Nugent on 01483 272 323.

The Winter Wildlife Ball was generously hosted by the Dorchester Collection.