|The UK Wolf Conservation Trust
Working to Keep Wolves in the Wild
For over 35 years socialised wolves have lived in Beenham, housed in large enclosures at Butlers Farm. In 1995 the U k Wolf Conservation Trust was formed by Roger and Tsa Palmer, a not-for-profit educational organisation committed to raising funds for conservation and improving the welfare of wolves in the wild worldwide.
For over 23 years visitors in increasing numbers came to see the wolves, providing opportunities for people to learn about these charismatic maligned animals and realise the importance of their place in the ecosystem. There is nothing like seeing wolves close up to dispel misconceptions. During this period we have managed to donate over £375,000 to conservation projects throughout the world – including Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Ethiopia, Greece, India, Iran, Israel, Syria, Nepal, Portugal, Russia and the USA. The varied aims of these projects range from educational programmes, redirection of wolf/human conflict and helping financially with important field work. Working to keep wolves in the wild is a stated aim of the Trust. We shall continue to pass on donations in the future, when and if we receive them.
In 2018 the number of visitors during the year had risen to over 12,000, and the site at Butlers Farm had inadequate facilities for car parking and to cope with this increase in footfall. This was partly as a result of Torak’s escape in early 2018, when a night time intruder broke in and forced open his enclosure gate. This escape made headline news bringing attention to the Trust in Beenham, and attracting a great deal of publicity and extra interest.
Additionally, with the increase in visitors, the wolves’ welfare was being compromised as some were reaching retirement age and needing a quieter life. So the decision was taken to close the Trust to public visitors at the end of 2018. The 10 wolves will live out their lives at Beenham, being cared for by the Palmer family, and volunteers who have known them since they were very young and with whom they have a strong bond. They continue to be walked every weekend by the volunteers and enjoy a high standard of living in an attractive environment, living in spacious enclosures with areas of shady woodland, shrubbery and open grass with hills and hollows, platforms and mounds, and in two cases ponds with running water.
Each enclosure also has a kennel area where they can sleep should they wish, on beds of straw. Their diet is first class with beef, venison, chicken carcasses, rabbits and pheasants on the menu ! They are also given various enrichment foods when in season, such as pumpkins, which are filled with their favourite treats such as cheese and hot dogs!
We currently have 9 wolves. Torak and Mai who were born in 2006, Motomo in 2009, the arctic wolves Massak, Pukak and Sikko born in Canada in 2011, and lastly the Beenham pack Nuka, Tala and Tundra born here at Butlers farm in 2011. Although the trust is now closed to visitors you can still see the wolves on our website via two live webcams and read up to date news about them, so go to www.ukwct.org.uk to follow what they are up to. It is not planned that we will to get any new wolves as the overall perception, of wolves by the public has changed so much during the last twenty years worldwide. The wolf in Europe is now a protected species by law, resulting in increasing numbers. They are currently to be found in every European country, and within forty miles of Paris, such is the success of their comeback. For this reason we do not believe it necessary to keep wolves in captivity: our work is done.
So the Residents of Beenham will continue to hear them howl on a regular basis. Contrary to popular belief wolves do not only howl at a full moon any more than any other time of the month. They howl to communicate with each other and to the other wolves they think live in Berkshire!! It is an eerie spine tingling sound and can travel for up to six miles! Interestingly, the ringing of the church bells and the two-tone ring of the ice cream van in the summer both initiate their howling.
Working to Keep Wolves in the Wild