It is with great sadness that we’ve learnt of the death of wildlife artist and conservationist, David Shepherd, FRSA, CBE, founder and president of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF).
He passed away at the age of 86 on the 20th September, after a 10-week battle with Parkinson’s.
On behalf of Camp Jabulani we wish to express our sincere condolences to his family and friends.
Camp Jabulani had the wonderful priviledge to host David in 2006, during which time he sat down and made a sketch that still hangs in the Camp Jabulani lounge.
During his time spend with us he also took advantage of the opportunity to visit and observe the elephants.
For over 50 years David has dedicated his life to protecting some of the world’s most iconic and endangered animals. Using his talent as an artist to generate funds for their protection he inspired hundreds of others to follow and, in 1984, established his own wildlife foundation to give something back to the animals that had given him so much success as an artist.
His amazing generosity was demonstrated when he sponsored a painting for the ESPU (Endangered Wildlife Protection Unit), which were put up for auction to raise fund. We will be eternally grateful for this gesture.
Voted by a BBC poll as one of the most effective and popular small wildlife charities in Britain, the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) is a flexible non-bureaucratic NGO funding far reaching projects dedicated to the long-term conservation of critically endangered mammals in the wild, fighting wildlife crime through training and supporting the brave men and women on the front line, and engaging and benefiting rural people who share their environment.
With a deep fondness for Africa’s elephants many of David’s most iconic paintings are of the world’s largest land mammal including ‘The Ivory is Theirs’ and ‘Wise Old Elephant’. ‘Tiger Fire’ was one of his first major fund-raising successes, raising £127,000 for Indira Gandhi’s Operation Tiger in 1973. In 2014 he painted an elephant onto one of his palettes for his Foundation’s 30th Anniversary black tie dinner raising £50,000 for conservation projects in Africa and Asia. Speaking at the time David said: “What more could an artist wish for but to repay my debt to the animals I painted.”
As well as his wildlife and landscape paintings, David is perhaps lesser known for his portraits, which include Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, HE Sheikh Zayed of Abu Dhabi and, the most significant to him, his vast portrayal of ‘Christ on the Battlefield’. David was also passionate about steam locomotives, in the past owning two 120 ton steam giants and establishing a registered steam railway charity.
Karen Botha, the chief executive of the Surrey-based David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF), said: “David’s passion for wildlife and the role of man in its demise infuriated and inspired him.
He was dedicated, tenacious and outspoken, a champion of animals and the people who worked to protect them. He will be greatly missed.”
He leaves a wife, four daughters, nine grandchildren and one great grandchild and an enduring legacy for wildlife conservation. His family are still very involved in the charity and his artistic talent lives on in his daughter, Mandy Shepherd and grand-daughter Emily Lamb who continue to paint to raise awareness and help DSWF fund conservation projects worldwide.