Former Charity Coordinator for Animal Friends Pet Insurance, Marianne Matthews (Maz), is currently living out her dream volunteering with Born Free in Kenya and we are delighted to be able to sponsor her. Welcome to the first of Maz's guest blogs, a series we will be running to see how she is making a difference to wildlife conservation.
I have a degree in wildlife conservation but so what? I need experience and what better place to do it then Kenya! So many amazing animals.Being accepted to volunteer with Born Free, I am bound to have the time of my life but more importantly I will be looking after the environment, animals and helping with the conservation efforts of the foundation.
50 years ago Virginia McKenna and her late husband Bill Travis were graced by the presence of Elsa the Lioness, sometime later they met ‘PolePole’ the elephant and so the foundations of Born Free were made. 30 years on from the heart breaking loss of this once wild elephant, pulled from her family to live in a zoo, the foundation is still working strong to end captivity of animals who are… Born Free.
So where do I come in? I have been sponsored by Animal Friends Pet Insurance to give my time to the charity and what an amazing couple of weeks I have had so far. Animal Friends Pet Insurance is helping me to help animals; just like the donations they give to charities, time is as good as money.
My first week, straight in the deep end and totally star struck! A fundraising event and talk in celebration of Born Free's 30th
anniversary. I had made name badges and was cracking on making the table numbers, when Virginia came up and asked for help. Well what would you say? We sat and talked for ages about conservation, the charity and then she told me of Elsa, though not the Elsa you might expect!
50 years on from the lioness who started it all, a different Lioness called Elsa was being used in a circus in Italy. Born Free had to get involved and help return her back to where she belongs, the wild! Read more and help support Elsa.
It doesn’t just stop there though, they have to improve the habitat for all animals to survive as well. Bush meat trade is a big threat to the food supply of wild lions, they then hunt livestock and in turn the farmers kill a lion in revenge… So not only are Born Free helping communities to build Bomas to protect their livestock, which in turn protects wild lions, but they are also getting the message out to stop the bush meat trade.
I will be spending four fantastic months with Born Free. I’ll be using my guide leader abilities, office skills and conservation knowledge to run education programmes for schools, teaching conservation in a fun way, and stop the next generation from seeing poaching and ivory trade as an income. I’ll also be in the office where I’ll be blogging about all of Born Free's projects and promoting them, something that is essential in showing the supporters how their money is helping.
I hope to see so many animals in their natural habitat and I am truly proud to be volunteering with Born Free. Keep an eye out for my updates and follow me, living my dream!