Sara White reveals how charitable trust Explorers against Extinction is shining a spotlight on endangered species from its Happisburgh HQ
Famous faces help Norfolk wildlife charity
In 2016 I looked extinction in the eye during a trip to Kenya. I came face to face with Sudan, a three-tonne northern white rhino – the last male of his kind. I like many others felt the deep significance of Sudan’s passing in 2017.
The earth’s sixth mass extinction is under way, scientists say, with species becoming extinct at a more rapid rate than ever before. All five species of rhino are endangered, elephant are poached for their ivory at a rate of one every 26 minutes and just 4,000 tigers remain, down from 40,000 a century ago.
Explorers against Extinction, a charitable trust promoting the conservation of rare and endangered species, wants you to join us in making a stand against species extinction.
Public opinion can push governments to do more to protect threatened wildlife and this is undoubtedly a critical time. While habitat loss, pollution, climate change and human/wildlife conflict are contributory factors in the steep decline of many iconic species, the illegal wildlife trade remains the most urgent threat to elephant, rhino and tiger.
Sketch for Survival – 26 minutes to make a difference
Sketch for Survival is an integral part of Explorers against Extinction. The idea for this annual touring exhibition and online auction of wildlife artwork came about in Spring 2017 during a brain storming session with fellow trustee Robert Ferguson.
Our team (of two) set about writing letters. We asked professional artists and celebrities if they would help us raise awareness about species extinction by spending 26 minutes on a sketch of an endangered animal. The funds raised from the auction of artwork would support frontline conservation projects. It all went very quiet.
We wrote more letters. Slowly but surely our sketch on the back of a beer mat metamorphosed into a touring art exhibition. Many artists, who believe passionately in the cause spend far longer than 26 minutes, donating beautiful, complex artworks – ‘art with heart’ as one of our celebrity supporters likes to call it.
In our first year we exhibited 161 pieces. The collection sold for
over $50,000, supporting three important projects.
This year we have 476 artworks, representing 30+ nationalities and over 60 rare and endangered species. Our tour visits seven venues, including those in London, Norwich and New York.
Three Oscar winners, the world’s most famous living explorers and a best-selling international author are among our contributing artists. These original artworks are very affordable with starting bids just £50. What’s more you’ll have something on your wall that gives you great pleasure and has also helped to make a real difference.
I often think back to my encounter with Sudan.
I am proud to say that Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which was the last wild stronghold of the northern white rhino, is the focus of Explorers against Extinction conservation efforts in 2018 and our biggest project to date.
The rhino may be gone from this UNESCO World Heritage park, but there is still time to safeguard the most famous residents, the elephants. Their numbers have been decimated by poaching, falling from 22,000 in the 1970s, to just 1,200 today. We are going to be assisting non-profit African Parks who manage Garamba, to establish a working dogs programme. A canine unit will help park rangers confront illegal wildlife trafficking by increasing response times and offering a tremendous detection capability.
On the other side of the world we are partnering with Fauna and Flora International to help safeguard Sumatran Tiger, the smallest sub-species of tiger.
‘Slowly but surely our sketch on a beer mat metamorphosed into a touring art exhibition’
Sketch for Survival, Norwich School Crypt Gallery, 23-25 November. Admission is free. Auction closes November 25. Among the contributing celebrities are Norfolk’s Stephen Fry and Frederick Forsyth, explorer Levison Wood, actors Dame Helen Mirren and Sophie Thompson, and film-maker Nick Park.
The professional artists include Rachel Toll, Fiona Champion, Tom Tinn Disbury; Eric Ray and Siobhan Barlow.
LEFT: Rhinoceros by Helen MirrenOPPOSITE, FROM LEFT: Wild dog by Fiona Champion; rhinoceros by Levison WoodBELOW:Monkey by Frederick Forsyth; elephant by Stephen Fry