Conservation and Philanthropy are very important factors in my life, during the last decade I have been involved in fund raising for different charities and so far have raised over £250,000 this has been distributed to various deserving causes such as Care for the wild international, David Sheperd Conservation foundation, Fauna and flora international, N.S.P.C.C, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest School Uganda, and Trinity Hospice, The Sandy Lane Children’s Trust, and the Coalation for the protection of Children Bermuda.
It is very rewarding to be able to put something back into society that hopefully will make a difference. One particular project that I have been working on began with my first visit to Ranthambhore Tiger reserve in Rajasthan, India.
I wanted to help the survival of the Tiger in some small way. During my stay I had lots of propositions from different societies connected with Ranthambhore, from providing uniforms for forest guards, to photo trapping schemes to evaluate the true numbers of Tigers present in the park. I couldn’t see how this could reduce the Tigers slow decline; something really had to be done about the root cause, the people who were directly responsible for poaching. I spoke to lots of different people, all of who had different perspectives on how to tackle the problem, from shooting poachers dead on site, to trying to reason with them. I decided that education could be the answer. Illiteracy is over sixty percent in men and a staggering ninety five percent in women.
The villagers have no real concept of the value the Tiger, and how important a species it is. But to be honest why should they when they live hand to mouth each day, their chief concern is putting food on the table. I thought that if we could offer the children of these villages some hope of escaping the poor existence they live in, then things could change for the better. Families involved in poaching would realise that if their children had the chance of a free education, which is entirely reliant upon the existence of the Tigers within the park, then they may adopt a different attitude, “ No Tiger, No Tourists = No School”
I spoke with my friend Goverdhan Singh Rathore at length on the subject one night over the campfire, and decided to help him financially to build his dream school. To say he was delighted was an understatement, this must be karma he said, “I have been given a five acre plot by my father, but until now I have had no funds to start such an ambitious project, it will be a flagship of education and conservation.” One year down the line, and he was true to his word, I visited the site in 2001 when construction was well on the way, and was assured that it would be finished in 2002. The project was huge and the school caters for up to one thousand children. Now completed, half the students are the local village children who enjoy an
entirely free education. Although he was significantly short of funds to finish the project, money was raised from other sources and the school was up and running by October 2004.