Rewilding our world

Rathbones is delighted to be a partner of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, whose latest strategy, Rewild Our World, represents an ambitious commitment to getting nature back on track in the face of “a planet under pressure”

By 14 August 2019

Dr Lesley Dickie, Chief Executive Officer, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust is an international charity based on Jersey in the Channel Islands. We champion the creatures that often do not receive much conservation attention. We truly believe that conservation works, and we have proven time and time again that it does.

In late 2017 we launched our new strategic plan, which will run until 2025. That is the year when naturalist and author Gerald Durrell, our founder, would have turned a hundred. Gerald is no longer with us, but the ethos of his vision is still felt at the Trust.

This year is our 60th anniversary, and since our inception we have had the same mission: saving species from extinction. These four words combine to create a powerful focus for everything we do.

The quest to rewild

Setting a new strategy for an organisation presents a number of challenges. You have to understand both where you have been and where you want to go. You have to monitor and evaluate your new goals to be sure that you are succeeding and improving rather than merely coasting along. You have to figure out the resources that you will need and how to get them.

Most importantly, you have to make it all exciting. And that is certainly how I would describe our latest strategy, Rewild Our World. Rewilding is about saving species, restoring ecosystems, helping nature to get back on track and then  —  hopefully  —  taking our hands off, stepping away and leaving nature to do what it needs to do.

“Rewilding” is such an evocative word. It conjures up images of a nature that is bountiful, beautiful, raw and magnificent and where wildlife is resilient and functioning.

Coupled with this strategy is our vision statement of bringing about a “wilder, healthier, more colourful world”. Each one of these words has been carefully chosen. “Wilder” is self-explanatory: we want more species in the wild thriving rather than simply surviving or hanging on at the edges. “Healthier” denotes a world where species are in good numbers and playing their role in functioning ecosystems. “Colourful” resonates with us because we truly believe that the world loses a little bit of its colour whenever a species becomes extinct.

Our 10 rewilding sites are in such diverse locations as the UK, the Galápagos Islands, Brazil, Sumatra, India, Jersey and Madagascar. We have set some ambitious goals and will measure our success against these. By 2025 we want to see:

— 10 ecosystems across the world’s major biomes rewilded

— 100 threatened species on the road to recovery

— 500 endangered species programmes with greater capacity to achieve their goals

— a million people better connected with nature.

Rewilding with Rathbones

We know that our new strategy is bold. Thankfully, we never work in isolation. The valued support of our partners is one of the reasons why we believe that we can succeed.

Rathbones has joined us on our rewilding journey with enthusiasm. Its Jersey office is a committed and fantastic partner, embracing our strategy in many ways — raising funds, sponsoring events, helping us to build our new Andean bear enclosure and connecting us with our newest ambassador, TV presenter and naturalist Monty Halls.

Rathbones also sponsored our annual Durrell Lecture in London in November 2018. This event, attended by more than 400 people, was dedicated to two of our island sites: Floreana, one of the Galápagos islands, and Round Island, off the north coast of Mauritius. It was a hugely successful evening, with generous supporters funding projects and becoming more engaged.

Another example of what Rathbones helps us to achieve can be found in the story of the Madagascar pochard, the world’s rarest duck. In December 2018, after several years of work, we successfully introduced this species back to the wild on Lac Sofia in northern Madagascar.

This marked the culmination of conservation breeding, habitat assessments and the development of new techniques for release. It also involved the logistical problem of getting to and from a notably remote area of our planet. After the release, with heavy rain stranding many of our trucks in mud, members of our team walked for 15 hours to reach the nearest passable roads. Again, none of this could be achieved without the assistance of our partners.

The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust is dedicated to providing solutions for a planet under pressure. This is our one home in an endless universe, so let us treat it accordingly. We invite you to join us in our vision of a wilder, healthier and more colourful world.

Go Wild Gorillas

Gorillas are among humanity’s closest relatives. They are also under increasing threat. All four subspecies face danger from habitat loss, hunting, wildlife trade and infectious disease.

Jersey Zoo has been home to gorillas for almost 60 years and has plans to redevelop the complex that houses them. In tandem, the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust is staging Go Wild Gorillas, a large-scale community project that will see 40 life-size gorilla sculptures placed around the island to form a trail of discovery.

“We wanted to mark our 60th anniversary with a project involving subjects close to our hearts — our beautiful gorilla family and our new strategy to connect people to nature,” says Dr Lesley Dickie, chief executive officer of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. “We believe that art-connectedness can lead to nature-connectedness.” The project will take place from 27 July to 14 October this year.