The gala dinner, which took place at ZSL London Zoo, raised much needed funds for ZSL’s efforts to conserve cheetah and African wild dogs and the landscapes that support them, and Zeitz Foundation’s efforts to protect habitats and ecosystems around the world.
Range wide conservation planning for cheetah and African wild dog was the vision of ZSL’s Dr Sarah Durant and Dr Rosie Woodroffe, who realised that without a landscape approach to the conservation of the two species their survival was in doubt. Thus the range wide planning programme was launched in 2007. As a result of their vision, three regional strategies have been developed, over 250 people have been involved in developing national action plans, and over 50 organisations and individuals are collaborating together to save these two iconic species of Africa.
High profile guests raised much needed awareness for conservation projects at the gala dinner, including Jochen Zeitz, Stella McCartney, Tamsin Egerton and music star Wretch32, and entertainment was compered by former Olympic medallist and Zeitz Foundation specialist Colin Jackson. The evening included the world premiere of a new composition by Richard Sisson, the Song of the Carnivores. This piece of music symbolises the holistic approach of ZSL's cheetah and wild dog conservation program, which not only focuses on reducing immediate threats such as conflict due to livestock loss, snaring and illegal trade, but also the drivers of these threats, such as a lack of political will, land use change and lack of awareness. The 'Song of the carnivores' aims to engage children with conservation of Africa's large carnivores, and was the brainchild of Netty Purchase, coordinator of the range wide conservation program'
Dinner was by acclaimed chef Yotam Ottolenghi and an auction was held featuring unique lots to raise vital funds. Laurent Perrier champagne was enjoyed by guests, which was kindly provided by Sanderson Hotel’s Long Bar.
Usain Bolt with ZSL’s Dr Rosie Woodroffe and Dr Sarah Durant
A surprise lot was announced on the night from Sir Richard Branson; a once in a lifetime opportunity to fly to Branson’s own Necker Island and run 100m against Sir Richard Branson himself, which resulted in an intense bidding war finally sold to the highest bidder for £30,000.
Other amazing lots included Usain Bolt’s running shoes, a Vivienne Westwood Couture “Cocotte” gown, an unforgettable wildlife safari including tracking African wild dogs and cheetah with conservation experts, a dress from Sarah Burton’s first collection, and artwork by acclaimed contemporary artists including Isaac Julien, Harland Miller and Chris Ofili.