The late Roger Palmer founded The UK Wolf Conservation Trust with his wife Tsa in 1995 at Butlers Farm in Beenham and it is now celebrating in 20 years of success in helping to keep wolves in the wild.
Since its foundation, the not-for-profit trust in West Berkshire has donated £251,000 to global projects.
Over the past 20 years, it has raised 18 “ambassador” wolves, delivered the birth of the first European wolf in the UK since they were wiped out in 1743 and in 2011 imported the first ever Arctic wolves to the UK.
Over this time, the trust has welcomed more than 10,000 visitors a year and given work experience and career opportunities to more than 1,800 young people.
As it celebrates two decades of wolf conservation, the trust is encouraging more people to get involved in its weekly events and learn more about the importance of wolves for strong, stable ecosystems.
NegativeMrs Palmer, who has continued to run the trust since her husband’s death in 2004, said: “Wolves have gained a negative reputation across Europe, often fuelled by fairy tales, myths and legends but without top predators such as the wolf, whole ecosystems become out of balance, which affects the entire food chain.
“Wolves aren’t the evil fairy tale characters many people portray them as, but are vital to Europe having and retaining its biodiversity.”
Wolves used to be one of the most common species in the northern hemisphere just a few hundred years ago but following consistent persecution have been driven out of their original habitats.
However, through increased global awareness of conservation and the recognition of the ecological importance of the wolf from organisations like the UK Wolf Conservation Trust, wolves are now growing in popularity all over the world.
Today the wolf is once again a common species in countries such as Canada and Russia.
Projects all over the worldThe UK Wolf Conservation Trust has been able to help fund projects all over the world.
Tomorrow, Sunday, September 6, the trust will present a cheque for £5,000 to the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Trust Programme, bringing all time donations to £251,168.
The wolf trust has supported projects in countries ranging from America, France, Bulgaria, India, Croatia, Russia and Nepal.
Mrs Palmer said 2011 was the trust’s most exciting year when one of its wolves gave birth to the three wolf cubs Nuka, Tala and Tundra.
The same year, the trust took delivery of three Arctic wolf cubs, Massak, Pukak and Sikko, the first ever to arrive in the UK.
She said the support of the general public and volunteers have helped the organisation become successful and she welcomed more people to come and learn about wolves, the ecological importance they hold and the negative misconceptions surrounding them.
She explained that her husband had always been fascinated with animals, had a capuchin monkey as a boy and took rats to boarding school.
After travelling in Alaska and learning more about wolves, he spotted an ad in a magazine called Cage and Aviary Birds in 1970.
Wolf cubThe Kessingland Zoo in Norfolk was selling wolf cubs and he bought one.
Mrs Palmer explained there were no regulations about keeping exotic or dangerous animals in those days - “You could buy lion cubs in Harrods.”
She met her husband soon afterwards by which time he had two wolves.
Married, living in Windsor and short of cash, she saw a news story about two wolves which had to be shot after they escaped from Pinewood Studios in Iver Heath.
She wrote and offered their wolves to the film-makers and so a glamorous film career in movies like the Legend of the Werewolf, Company of Wolves and American Werewolf in London began.
Soon after the couple moved to Beenham, the wolves were used to film the BBC series Box of Delights.
She said the TV lights over the remote farm gave rise to UFO stories in the press.
HowlingShe added: “Because of that the village has never really minded the wolves and their howling.”
After meeting a leading American conservationist, the couple decided to set up the UK trust.
Mrs Palmer said: “There are lots of ways in which people can come and support the trust and ensure we continue to be successful for the next 20 years.
“We have lots of activities that members of the public can participate in, giving everyone a chance to visit the trust, ranging from our popular Open Wednesdays to Arctic ambles, bat walks and wolf viewing, to howl nights. We also hold events and meetings for local conservation groups as well as wolf evenings, badger evenings, and even moth evenings!”
Anyone who wants to know more about the UK Wolf Conservation Trust and the projects it supports should visit headquarters