Amanda and Barry Butler are marking the thirtieth anniversary of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) by driving 800 miles across England, passing through 30 counties in just 30 hours.
The non-stop expedition starts from their home in Peatmoor, Swindon on Monday 28 July and ends on the afternoon of 29 July at the wildlife fund’s headquarters in Surrey.
The route takes Amanda and Barry up to North Yorkshire and south to Hampshire with stops at county road signs or significant places for photos which will be uploaded to Twitter as the trip progresses.
World famous wildlife artist David Shepherd set up his charity in 1984 to fund key projects in Africa and Asia working to save critically endangered mammals. As a small, non-bureaucratic organisation it is able to respond promptly to conservation threats by supporting trusted, reputable individuals and organisations operating in the field. It supports a range of innovative, vital and far-reaching projects, achieving important results for wildlife survival.
Over 30 years DSWF has raised almost £7 million. It has:
• Uncovered ivory cartels, seized ivory and arrested poachers
• Set up Zambia’s first elephant orphanage project
• Increased wild Amur tiger populations from 100 to over 400
• Funded the first anti-poaching dog squad in Assam
• Funded Africa’s first cross-border wildlife smuggling task force
• Launched TigerTime to save wild tigers and end the illegal trade in tiger parts
It also contributes to Animals Asia’s efforts to save moonbears in China and Vietnam, which is supported by another couple from Peatmoor Sarah and David Chilvers. www.animalsasia-swindon.co.uk
Barry and Amanda, who admit to being passionate about wild animals, have supported the foundation and other wildlife organisations for several years, but the thirtieth anniversary appeal has stirred them into greater action, which they hope will contribute £3,000 to the DSWF aim to raise £30,000 in 300 days.
Amanda said: “We received a letter from the foundation asking members to involve their local communities in the 30 year appeal. After much discussion, and watching Davina McCall doing her marathon fundraising for Sport Relief on TV in February, we came up with the idea of the 30 counties road trip which will involve lots of people in following our progress.
“In 2014 one elephant is being killed every 15 minutes for its ivory. In less than 100 years the elephant population has decreased from 10 million to around 500,000. It’s a desperate situation; that these wonderful creatures could be wiped out in our lifetime is an awful thought.
“Through DSWF we sponsor an elephant called Chamilandu who was rescued when she was less than two years old. She was found next to her mother who had been badly injured by poachers and had to be put down. Rangers took her to the elephant orphanage in Kafue National Park, Zambia and had to hand feed her milk until she was strong enough to fend for herself.
“Her name means ‘comes with trouble,’ but she has settled in well and is growing up into a caring young elephant, looking after more recent arrivals at Kafue.
“We’ve not met Chamilandu yet, but we do have a cuddly version of her – pictured – that will appear in the photographs that we tweet whilst we’re on the road.”
Barry reckons the route they’ve worked out can be done. “With the help of Apple maps and a paper map showing all the traditional county boundaries, we could cover the 800 miles in around 22 hours. But as we need to stop to take pictures and take breaks along the way, 30 hours is a good target to aim for – barring traffic holdups or breakdowns.
“We have friends scouting out county signs for us so that we don’t have to be delayed searching for them, but it would be good if readers could let us know their locations so we can take the picture and move on as efficiently as possible.”
Barry hopes his employer Zurich will match the amount raised from the expedition and Amanda wants to raise awareness of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation and get children involved by visiting schools during the summer term.
Now the couple have made their fundraising idea public, they want to get as many people involved as possible. Amanda commented” “We’re very excited now that we have a plan in place and the staff at the foundation are really getting behind us. I think we’re some of the first members to launch a community based thirtieth anniversary project so we hope this can provide inspiration for others to get their own ideas into gear.”
Sponsor Amanda and Barrie at www.justgiving.com/30counties
To invite Amanda into your school or group, mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more and buy David Shepherd pictures in support of the wildlife foundation via www.davidshepherd.org
Amanda and Davids’ trip will take in