Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, formally the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust, was set up in 1963 by renowned conservationist Gerald Durrell. Its headquarters are based at Les Augres Manor on Jersey, which was originally set up in 1959 by Durrell, as a sanctuary and breeding centre for endangered species. Since the establishment of the Trust, the organisation has gone from strength to strength in its mission to halt the rate of species extinctions.
Gerald Durrell OBE was both an author, of 37 books, and broadcaster of several television series, which reflected his tireless work to support and preserve species both in the UK, and across the globe. His interest in supporting conservation initiatives arose when at the age of 21, he undertook several animal collecting expeditions. During these trips, he became aware of the momentous struggle that many species faced simply to survive, and developed an interest in the role that zoos could play in further supporting these suffering species. After a lifetime of innovative conservation efforts, Gerald Durrell sadly passed away at the age of 70, in January 1995. Since then, his wife Lee McGeorge Durrell has succeeded him as Honorary Director of the Conservation Trust, thus allowing the organisation to continue with its beneficial projects.
At the headquarters in Jersey, the wildlife park relies on intensive hands-on methods to support the management of its endangered species, both on site and in organisation of its over 50 conservation projects across 18 countries globally. The headquarters provide a sanctuary for species that are at serious risk in their native home; carefully managed programmes allow these individuals to breed and recover in numbers, whilst zoo conservationists study them to learn what measures can be taken to support the species in the wild. Where possible, individuals are then released back into the wild.
The zoo park also provides an insight to visitors who wish to learn more about the Trust’s global projects, not only allowing them to see some of the species that Durrell Wildlife seeks to protect but also to learn exactly how the Trust is working to protect them. Examples of species aided by Durrell, many of which are visible at the wildlife park, include gorillas, the echo parakeet, the mountain chicken, orang-utans, Livingstone’s fruit bat, the aye-aye, Andean Bears and more.
The manor house at the Jersey headquarters
Durrell works in partnership with local governments, conservation organisations and communities across the world. It has so far seen several major conservation successes, such as its work with the Mauritius Kestrel which had previously been reduced to only four birds, but has now been saved from extinction thanks to the Trust’s work. The organisation has a great deal of involvement with endemic species, not only in Mauritius but also on Madagascar.
Jersey born actor Henry Cavill is actively involved in supporting the trust
Other examples of conservation successes that have come about as a result of Durrell Wildlife’s work include Project Angonoka, which has brought the Angonoka tortoise back from extinction, a project to support the breeding of the Madagascar teal duck and the recovery of the Alaotran gentle lemur which has started to make a recovery following education programmes run by the Trust, to prevent local communities from destroying its habitat. These are just a few examples of the many conservation accomplishments that the Trust has achieved.
The Trust also makes an effort to educate young people about conservation initiatives, running many courses and educational residential courses at the headquarters. In total there are more than 3350 Durrell academy graduates over 135 countries.
As a Durrell graduate myself, and a graduate from the University of Kent’s Durrell Institute of Conservation Education, I have stayed and learned at the headquarters in Jersey and have seen for myself the incredible and inspiring work that Durrell Wildlife does both in the public eye and behind the scenes. Without their efforts, many species both in the UK and across the globe would have seriously declined or even become extinct. You can support Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust through visiting, donating, adopting animals and more; personally I feel that the Trust is an institute well worth supporting, and for any UK conservationist with a passion for preserving species, I would heartily recommend getting involved with their work.
Me and my university class with the Durrell statue, during our visit to Jersey zoo
If you’d like to learn more please visit: http://www.durrell.org/
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