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David Shepherd

AFC Conservation Artist of the Month for June, 2005

David Shepherd is known internationally as one of the world's leading wildlife artists. He is also a passionate conservationist and he freely admits that he owes all his success to the animals he paints.
 
Some 20 years ago David established the David Shepherd Foundation which has raised money and sponsored projects for the protection of wildlife. He was awarded an Honorary Degree of Fine Arts by the Pratt Institute in New York in 1971 and, in 1973, the Order of the Golden Ark by HRH The Prince of The Netherlands for his services to conservation. He was made a Member of Honour of the World Wide Fund for Nature in 1979 and received the Order of the British Empire for his services to wildlife conservation. In 1986 David was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and in 1988, President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia awarded him with the Order of Distinguished Service. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 1989 and he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Hertfordshire in 1990. In 1996 David was honoured as an Officer (Brother) of The Order of St. John.
 
"I believe the human race is sitting on a time bomb. We have this arrogant assumption that we can destroy everything around us, using up all the non-renewable resources of this earth to our own advantage. We seem to think we own this planet. We do not. We share it with every living creature. Man, the most lethal animal on this earth, destroys a single species to extinction at the rate of one every hour and it is extremely stupid and it is extremely dangerous to think we can continue on this course. If we do, we destroy ourselves and time is running out fast."
 
David claims to have little actual knowledge about wildlife but that matters nothing. What he does know is that he owes all his success to the animals that he paints and he is passionate about his art. " I am bound to be when I have seen 225 dead zebra lying around a waterhole that had battery acid poured into the water. I have seen a tiger in a gin trap. I have seen an elephant walking along on three feet, having trodden on a land mine and blown its foot off. If the human race is stupid enough to blow itself to pieces with landmines then that is the business of the human race. Animals should not be involved. As the human race seems with increasing frequency now to be tearing itself apart with senseless wars breaking out everywhere, are we really giving any serious thought to what we are doing? Do the bosses of many of the major multi-nationals really care about anything except the interests of their shareholders? Do politicians really care about the environment? I don't think so. Greed and ignorance prevail. Many years ago, we thought that something might happen when the heads of 150 countries met for the Rio earth summit to at last begin to discuss these issues. What happened? Silence. The world is being raped and it is crying out for help from those with influence but those cries fall on deaf ears.
 
Man, in his infinite wisdom and creative ability can always write another symphony or build another beautiful building. However, once the last tiger has been slaughtered, he can never make another one. Neil Armstrong told me once, "David, as I was coming back from the moon in my space capsule, I looked through the window of Planet Earth, and it seemed about the size of a golfball It was at that moment when I realised how fragile it looked." It is fragile. It is the only planet we have. We have to get the message today. Otherwise, tomorrow? There won't be one. "
 
In one single dramatic moment, David became a conservationist. He found a waterhole poisoned by poachers, around which were lying 255 dead zebra. He realised then that, through his paintings, which were already in great demand, he could repay his debt to the wildlife that was immediately bringing him such success. Since that day in 1960, he has raised through his own efforts, and latterly together with the members of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, more than 3 million pounds towards helping to save critically endangered mammals in the wild.
 
Prolific in output as a painter of not only wildlife but portraits, landscapes, aviation, military subjects and steam railways, he is also an author and brim full of stories and anecdotes. David says he is an extrovert who enjoys talking and he likes to be known as a natural promoter and an ardent ambassador for conservation - it's the way he is.

Previous Conservation Artists of the Month

(October, 2017)
(September, 2017)
(August, 2017)
(July, 2017)
(June, 2017)
(May, 2017)
(April, 2017)
(March, 2017)
(February, 2017)
(January, 2017)
(December, 2016)
(November, 2016)
(October, 2016)
(September, 2016)
(August, 2016)
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