Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Nick Knowles

Born Free patron and television personality Nick Knowles has chosen our Big Cat Sanctuary at the Shamwari Game Reserve, South Africa as the place to propose to his girlfriend Jessica Rose Moor.

Having bid on the holiday at our Savoy Gala Dinner to celebrate Virginia McKenna’s 80th birthday back in June, Nick planned the trip with precision so that the proposal would remain a secret.

Nick said, “I’ve wanted to take Jessica to Africa for a while, so I bid for a trip to Shamwari Game Reserve at a Born Free gala dinner. Then I realised it was the ideal place to ask Jessica to marry me, since I first heard her name while sitting in a tent in a lightning storm on a hill about 200 miles from Shamwari, making a wildlife programme for the BBC.”

To celebrate their engagement, the couple visited the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary the next day where they were able to see our rescued animals,

“It was a lovely way to spend our first day as an engaged couple”, Jessica said.

I'm Wild About...

Nick with an injury sustained on ‘Mission Africa’
Nick with an injury sustained on ‘Mission Africa’

TV presenter and new Born Free Patron Nick Knowles tells us the things that drive him wild.

How long have you been involved with Born Free.

I first met Born Free at the launch of the play monday charity lottery in May 2006.  I met some of the team there and was asked if I wanted to become involved in any future projects and that’d it be good to talk in more detail with Will.  A few months after that I was involved with a new programme called Mission Africa which took 15 people with ordinary lives over to Africa to complete difficult missions to help with local communities and conservation work in northern Kenya.

In one of the projects, it involved Relocating Giraffes in Lewa in Northern Kenya, we were coming against problems with local politics of the area.  I then got in contact with Will to find out how best to deal with the funding and political problems we were facing with this mission. Born Free and Will are well vested and experienced in dealing with Africa and know how best to work with all the different local bodies, national governments and tribes in Africa and were able to provide us with the different possibilities available.  Born Free then provided the funding we needed to relocate the giraffes to the Sera.  We successfully relocated 6 of the 8 giraffes unfortunately 2 died, which is common when relocating giraffes.  When previous relocations had been attempted all giraffes died in the process, so this I can honestly say that it was one of my proudest moments and Born Free contributed to that.

I also was invited to the Born Free Freedom Ball on June 2007, which was a fantastic evening full of interesting people from all walks of life and I always enjoy good Ball especially for a good cause!      

Where is your special wild place?

A little place near Boscastle called Trebarwith Strand.  It’s by the sea and there’s something about the Wild, angry Cornish coastline that is special, it just feels truly untouched.

What’s the best way to relax?

There’s an eco resort in Ningaloo (on West Coast of Australia) it’s by the sea. Its a luxury with an outside experience but you really feel in tune with nature.  You can swim with whale sharks in the sea and being in the water with these beautiful animals is just amazing.

What’s the soundtrack of your life?

Hhmmm, it has to be ‘I’m still standing’.  I always said when I was younger that I wanted to have a life less ordinary and I have up to date.  I’ve always taken risk in my life and have been badly injured playing rugby, fell off motorbikes and trucks in Africa.  So, I’m still standing seems very apt for me.

I’d much rather die having had an exciting short life than a long dull one!

What causes are you passionate about?

Well, I’d always say people first and animals second and what I like about Born Free is that they always look at conservation problems holistically.  So that people and animals are looked at together in the bigger picture and I think that’s really important. 

Wealth gives us the freedom to be gentle with animals.  However, if you were an African man who needed to provide for your family and a wealthy business man comes along and asks you to kill the last elephant on earth for its tusks and will pay you $200 to do so, you would because animals are seen as things to survive.  But Born Free looks at ways to help local communities around their projects too and that’s something I think is really important because people often forget that Humans are nature too.

What environmental issues drive you mad?

Were all convinced we want to save the planet but it seems that quite a few of us are jumping on the wrong environmental train leaving the station without looking at the facts.

For example Bio fuel seems a hot topic just now that everyone is saying we should use it, when in fact it’s actually damaging our rainforests to grow it and by burning it produces waste gases that produce ground level ozone!    So that’s something that drives me mad at the moment.

What easy thing could everyone do to make the world a better place?

There’s no easy thing to do to make the world better, everything to make it better is always difficult.  In our society we’re all looking for quick fixes and that’s what’s wrong, people aren’t willing to put the effort in to make the world better.  We all should look at the bigger picture and instead of working against each other and falling out, realise that we’re all working towards the same cause.  In the charity world, charities fall out with each other because one in encroaching on the others work or one religion fighting against the other….we all are working toward the same cause and should remember that and then that would help make the world a better place.

Why are you wild about Born Free?

They do great work and I like the people in it.  The fact that we can have long discussions around the camp fire and talk for hours passionately about Born Free’s work and different beliefs and philosophies and they don’t get irritated, is really encouraging and its this holistic and open minded approach to their conservation work with animals is the reason I’m wild about Born Free.

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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