COULD YOU GIVE US YOUR PERSONAL BACKSTORY AND HOW YOU ENDED SETTING UP WILDARK?
I grew up in Sydney as one of 3, with a brother and a sister. As a family, we loved the outdoors. Mum and Dad’s love of nature and naturally beautiful places was a gift to my siblings and I.
Hutch (Mark) and I have always shared a love of nature, adventure and the outdoors. Our adventure and travel business, Untamed Tracks, took us to remote places around the world. WildArk is the result of a culmination of years spent living and working in wilderness areas.
We felt a deep sense of responsibility and urgency to do our piece to protect wild places, as best we could so that they would be around for future generations to enjoy. We have really been working towards the creation of WildArk for many years based on all these experiences.
WHAT WAS MOMENT THAT KICK-STARTED WILDARK FOR YOU & YOUR FIRST STEPS?
There was something about the morning we spent watching a beautiful female black rhino and her calf grazing peacefully in the wild, knowing what we were witnessing was a scene that may not be around for much longer. It kicked us into gear quickly and we set up WildArk immediately on our return to Australia.
The mission was clear and we knew it was time, so we set to work. Finding out about the deaths of these two rhinos months later was terribly heartbreaking and tragically is now an all too common story.
We wanted to concentrate our efforts on securing as much space as possible for the wild, as we believe if wildlife is to stand a chance, the key is to safeguard wilderness areas and ensure long-term biodiversity protection. We began our search for our first piece of land, somewhere that we could convert into a conservancy. We were very lucky to find such an incredible block that bordered the Greater Kruger in South Africa.
We could see the potential and together with our local South African partners, John and Anton Lategan, we purchased the former buffalo hunting farm. We named this conservancy Pridelands and set to work for the majority of 2017 on restoring the property with the aim to drop fences to the Greater Kruger region and allow the free movement of wildlife through this natural corridor. We relocated our entire family to Hoedspruit to work directly on the property.