Reflecting on a gentle nature

Lately, I have found myself in a reflective state of mind. Reflecting on my work, my goals, the small successes of the campaigns I’ve joined (Sea World agreeing to end the breeding of its captive whales); the near misses (the slow progress of the UK government in deciding whether to close the domestic trade in ivory); and the complete misses (never getting to see Tilikum free of his Sea World enclosure, CITES not delivering lions with Appendix I protection, etc.).

I suppose it can weigh heavy.

In need of a little pick-me-up, my thoughts went to the beginning —in fact, before the beginning —to the chain of events which began the ripple that would eventually flow into the creation of this sea of words; articles; posts.

It begins with the memory of murdered photographer Julie Ward, whose book, ‘A Gentle Nature’, I won in a raffle many years ago.

Below is a vlog I made a few years back, explaining who Julie Ward is and a little bit about her tragic story.


This is the book mentioned, which captured my interest in the Born Free Foundation and wildlife photography and was one of the inspiring factors which made me travel to South Africa to volunteer.

gentle nature

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I had chosen to volunteer at Shamwari Game Reserve because it is home to two Born Free Foundation sanctuaries for rescued big cats, and one of these rescue centres was opened in Julie Ward’s memory.

Shamwari friends with Kate

Celebrating a job well done with my fellow Shamwari volunteers at the Born Free Foundation”s Julie Ward Education Centre.

Since that vlog was filmed, a further development arose in the Julie Ward murder case, where new DNA evidence brought detectives a step closer to finding her killers.

The following video shows a news report from BBC News in the East of England. I must apologise for the quality of the video and give pre-warning that to get the most from the video, it will require viewers to turn the volume to full. It was recorded on simple digital camera by my ever-supportive parents, and emailed to me during my year in Australia, so that I could watch it online from overseas.


Back in 2013 I even designed my own mini Go Go Gorilla to send out to Born Free‘s Julie Ward Education Centre at Shamwari.

The basic elements of my design were my Shamwari work t’shirt from my time as a volunteer there, the Born Free Foundation logo, and an image of Julie ward herself. Such were the reaches of their influence.


It’s wonderful to reflect on my own locality, and how where I grew up ultimately had an influence on ‘how’ I grew up. There are so many wonderful figures who have inspired my path into gentle nature and compassion conservation.

Those that I’ve followed throughout my life are: the late Joy Adamson (writer of the Born Free autobiographical tale of Elsa the lioness, and its sequels) and George Adamson (Joy’s husband, who had a lifetime of incredible conservation work in his own right, rehabilitating captive lions, such as Boy and Christian back into the wild) and the late Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna (who founded the Born Free Foundation with their son Will Travers, and whom played the roles of Joy and George Adamson in the Born Free movie).

I would also, like many people, have to cite David Attenborough in my list of conservation heroes whose footprints I would love to walk in. I am so grateful that, in blogging, I have found a way to honour those idols and to continue to grow in the shared goals; in all their triumphs, near misses, and total knock-outs.



Bringing 2013 to a close…

I must admit, I kind of assigned myself to the fact that the auction at the end of the Go Go Gorilla Norwich trail would probably signal the end of my Kate on Conservation blog. It has always been a humble blog; what began as simply an example blog site to be submitted as part of my Internet Studies course during my study abroad year has continued long past the duration of time I had ever expected or intended. Whilst other blogs I have seen start up have grown into hugely popular sites, with huge followings,  I kept my niche and my idea simple and to the point; I believe in conservation, I believe that we all need to take active steps – no matter how big or small – to ensure the future of our planet, and I believe in the work of the Born Free Foundation. So if I’ve managed to make  just a few people aware of the Born Free Foundation, their work, or the fantastic work going on at Shamwari Game Reserve, then I’ve achieved what I set out to do.

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 30 trips to carry that many people. Click here to see the complete report.

Although achieving around 3,500 views in total is not a huge audience, it is certainly more than I had expected in the beginning, and the blog has spanned many different directions – which is perhaps why it hasn’t achieved the potential heights a blog can reach – I haven’t always had a concise direction; aside from reporting on the work of the Born Free Foundation, I have also looked specifically at Shamwari Game Reserve, conservation issues in South Africa, the global work of Born Free, the Julie Ward case, Worldwide Experience’s Voice of Conservation competition and an account of the Norwich Go Go Gorillas trail, and a few other things in between! It may seem a little random at times, but I assure you, all these subjects are related.

Before I bid a fond goodbye to 2013, and enter the uncertain future of whether or not a blog of this nature has a place in my life over the coming year, I can’t leave without sharing the last few updates of 2013, and filling in the blanks on where my conservation journey and efforts have since headed and where they will go from here:

My Top 5 updates for the last quarter of 2013…

1. The most exciting and significant event of 2013 was starting work for Discovery Education, part of the Discovery Communications family.

Having only graduated in the summer, signing this contract in November was far beyond my expectations of where my career would be headed. I am a sub-editor, working on Clipbank – a service that brings educational resources, largely in video format, to secondary schools. I feel privileged to work for such a fantastic company, and to combine my passions for media, language and education so early on in my career journey.


2. A day in the life of a Game Ranger…

Discovery Education is part of the Espresso Education group. Prior to joining the Discovery Communications team, I was working under Espresso Education’s Channel 4 Learning branch. During my first week there, they set up an initiative called “Espresso Academy”. These voluntary lunchtime lectures run once a month, and give employees of any level or role the chance to share something they feel passionate about, something they have knowledge of, or something they have done – with the common aim of sharing “knowledge, for knowledge’s sake”.  I became the second employee to host one of these events (after the person who started the whole initiative) and chose to speak about Shamwari, and becoming a Game Ranger. See my full set of slides here.


3. Bringing wildlife awareness to young audiences

As an auntie of 5 children aged 0-6 years old, I always enjoy finding storybooks that will introduce animals to their thoughts and vocabulary. I’m not going to force my views and opinions on them, or instill my ideas of taking action and donating time and money to the cause of conservation on children so young; it’s something they need to discover for themselves if that’s going to happen. But I think they’re never too young to learn that different animals exist in different parts of the world.

So I was particularly intrigued when my previous landlords (whom I lived with at the time of the Go Go Gorilla auction) introduced me to Anthony Browne books, inquiring as to whether he had been commissioned to do any of the designs. He wasn’t involved in designing any of the Norwich gorillas, but when I looked through one of his books, I understood why they had made that connection, and it did leave me quite reminiscent of the campaign.


I was also contacted later in the year by Booktrope, asking me whether I review books on my blog. Whilst I didn’t feel that a review of children’s book was exactly in-line with my blogging message, I felt that the connection of bringing an awareness of animals and conservation to young audiences warranted including a bit of information about the book on here, and it is set in Africa, telling a story through the eyes of African animals; so what’s the harm? (I’m also quite flattered that someone would notice this blog and contact me!)


The email I received from them is as follows: (please click to enlarge, or visit their website for more info). zip goes wandering

4. I now own my own Go Go Gorilla!

With great thanks to my family, this year for Christmas I was given a miniature ceramic Go Go Gorilla, decorated with one of the designs that featured on one of the full-size Gorillas that was on display in Norwich before being sold at auction. My mother came with me to the auction and I joked about how I’d love to own one. Whilst mine wasn’t quite as expensive as those sold at auction, the proceeds did go to Break and the Born Free Foundation, and it was a wonderfully thoughtful gesture.


5. Designing a Shamwari Gorilla to send to the Born Free Julie Ward Sanctuary.

Finally, I used my spare time over the Christmas holidays to finally get around to designing that blank Wild in Art ceramic gorilla figure I’d previously posted about. I used my earlier designs as inspiration, and whilst I very much enjoy art, I found moving from paper to 3D model quite difficult. Nonetheless, my design is complete and ready to send out to Shamwari, as a gift to the Julie Ward sanctuary. Hopefully I’ll hear back from them!

photo(9)Thank you to everyone whose read my posts and taken an interest! Remember you can keep up-to-date with the Born Free Foundation as follows:



And you can find me at:



or by using any of my Blogroll links.


The Julie Ward Case

For those of you who don’t know, I’m currently living in Australia as part of a study abroad year for my degree, so English news is not always readily available. Luckily my family back in the UK have been keeping me informed of all the important things, and I discovered today that there has been new development in the Julie Ward case (see my earlier blog post for more info ).

image from telegraph.co.uk

The case has apparently been re-opened with the discovery of new DNA evidence perhaps bringing detectives a step closer to finding her killers.

The following video shows a news report from BBC News in the East of England, I must apologise for the quality of the video and give pre-warning that to get the most from the video it will require watchers to turn the volume to full. It has been recorded on simple digital camera so that I could watch it online from overseas.


Julie Ward – Gentle Nature

For the interest of my readers I have made a short video explaining who Julie Ward (one of my inspirations for my love of conservation) is and a little bit about her tragic story.

gentle nature

This is the book mentioned, which captured my interest in the Born Free Foundation and wildlife photography.

Other inspiring figures that interest me are: The late Joy Adamson (The writer of the Born Free biography and sequels) and George Adamson (Joy’s husband) and Bill Travers and Virginia Mckenna (founders of the Born Free Foundation , whom played the roles of Joy and George Adamson in the Born Free movie).

Also, I have a profound interest in the work of David Attenborough and the exposure that he has given to so many corners of nature.