Care For The Wild grows into the mission

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2000:

RUSPER, West Sussex, U.K. ––It would be hard to be more active in international wildlife protection than Care For The Wild on a comparable budget––or to be more obscure, even with offices in seven nations on four continents.

None of the Care For The Wild expenditure of $1.3 million a year goes for show, or for office comfort. The headquarters in retired veterinarian and chairperson William Jordan’s former animal hospital can barely be seen from the street. Most of the staff occupy a converted stable. William Jordan himself and other executives share closet-sized rooms in the downstairs of his Tudor house.

Care For The Wild is perhaps the biggest employer near the crossroads of Rusper, a village whose other landmarks are a medieval church and two 400-yearold pubs. But Rusper, on the outer edge of the London sprawl, isn’t really near anywhere. It is still rural enough, in fact, that abundant rabbits might be prey for a feral leopard or puma repeatedly seen in the neighborhood.

“If it exists, it may come to see us,” William Jordan speculates. “We may have to do something to secure its safety. Here in Britain we already assist rescue centers and more than 90 National Federation of Badger Groups, helping badgers, otters, foxes, sea birds, birds of prey, seals, and dolphins. Our big cat work has been mainly done abroad,” he grins, “but we have helped a few cast-off exotic pets and former zoo or circus animals to find a home at a reputable sanctuary.”

Eclectic in concerns, Care For The Wild achieves ubiquity by partnering with other organizations which need help to fulfill promising projects. William Jordan encountered Daphne Sheldrick and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust on a 1987 expedition to Kenya to assist the Kenya SPCA on behalf of another British charity, The Donkey Sanctuary.

Sponsoring orphaned elephants and rhinos at the Sheldrick Trust facility led to donating and repairing vehicles for the antipoaching force at Tsavo East National Park.

Care For The Wild undertook a similar role at Satpura National Park and the Bori and Pachmari Sanctuaries in Madhya Pradesh, India. A 1996 Care For The Wild contribution of two small trucks and 14 motorcycles to the Satpura ranger corps was “by far the biggest donation that we have ever received,” the regional conservator of forests wrote.

“Further donations of jeeps, trucks, and motor boats followed,” Care For The Wild literature states.

But Care For The Wild took a different approach in Zimbabwe, where elephants might be protected from poachers only to be shot by trophy hunters or culled by rangers. There, Care For The Wild hired former elephant hunter Clem Coetzee to relocate “surplus” elephants who might otherwise be culled to private preserves whose owners pledge to allow no elephant hunting for at least 25 years. Also working with the Wildlife For Africa Trust and the Southern Africa Wildlife Trust, Coetzee has developed techniques of moving as many as 10 elephants per truck over distances of up to 750 miles in as little as three days. When Coetzee started, such whole-herd relocations were considered impossible.

Care For The Wild also aids the Orangutan Foundation in Borneo, funds the Centre for Amazonian Primates rescue facility near Manaus, Brazil, supports white gibbon rescue in Thailand, and in Chile sponsors vicuna protection work by Christian Bonacic, DVM.

While William, the famous Jordan, is the public face of Care For The Wild, his son Chris Jordan is the self-described “SOB––Son Of Boss” who directs operations. The father is quick to credit the son with making the organization grow.

Care For The Wild began with a bookstore. The late Kenyan conservationist George Adamson conducted a ceremonial opening on a rare visit to England, but the store never was financially successful. Moving into other forms of fundraising, Care For The Wild still had just 1,400 donors in 1991, when Chris Jordan left a sales career to join the team fulltime. It now has 55,000 donors.

“Which matters,” Chris Jordan says with characteristic bluntness, “only because their support means we can do a lot more of the work no one else does in the places no one else goes.”

Raised mostly in the U.S. by an American mother, Chris Jordan admits to having had a hard time adjusting to the various schools he attended, including Indiana University at Terre Haute. His favorite times, he recalls, were traveling around the world on wildlife veterinary missions with his father, but he never considered joining his father as an occupation, he says, because “I’m not my father. I wasn’t cut out to be a veterinarian. I didn’t realize that my skills could be of value to the work he does until after some years of helping here and there as a volunteer, I was invited to come aboard. Now I couldn’t imagine wanting to do anything else.”

[Care For The Wild is located at 1 Ashfolds, Horsham Rd., Rusper, West Sussex, RH12 4QX, United Kingdom.]

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