“One day I would love to build a brewery on the Norfolk Estate but at the moment I don’t know where.”
Philip Fitzalan Howard, the youngest son of Edward and Georgina, Duke and Duchess of Norfolk, was born in Chichester and brought up in Arundel Castle. He went to school in Windlesham and Westbourne and ended up studying to be a bush ranger and safari guide in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. This gave him the idea to make Cheetah Lager and Scaly Anteater low-alcohol beer. Fauna Brewing is the result and is the latest eco-conscious, purpose-driven beverage hoping to protect the animal kingdom.
“Growing up in a castle was truly an incredible childhood. What I loved most about it was the ability to have my animals. I had always loved animals and nature. This caused me to start a small pig farm with my mother at the age of twelve. We started with three and within eighteen months had over a hundred. Over the next few years, my menagerie grew. I had Bill and Ben the goats, Fairy, Mango and Pixie the Shetland ponies, Susan and Amanda the Kune Kune pigs, rheas (giant South American birds), meerkats Miles, Wilf and George, chickens, rabbits and many more. Mango and Pixie are still with us. We opened to the public for two years. It was such great fun. This then led me to study zoology and animal biology at Leeds University. I trained with the African Guide Academy in Botswana for just over a month, although I did not actually work as a ranger, as I needed to come back to the UK. I was ill during the examination but I am hoping to go back now Covid is over to get my qualification”
From snow leopards to sea turtles, seahorses, dormice and bees, many distillers and brewers now support wildlife conservation projects and welfare initiatives. The craft spirit and brewing movement are also helping finance conservation programmes for all creatures, great and small. Tarsier Gin supports the nocturnal Indonesia creature of the same name. Gorilla Spirits donates to the Gorilla Organization.
It would seem distillers are developing a social conscience and practising social responsibility. The boom in artisanal alcoholic beverages has spawned a new generation of conservation-minded distillers who, by combating climate change, fighting deforestation and supporting animal welfare and management projects, are making their mark on the landscape. And seascape. While sustainability practices cut costs, being philanthropic, environmentally respectful, and eco-active also benefits brand image. Glenmorangie has entered a pioneering three-year partnership with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS). This will not only protect giraffes in the wild in Africa, particularly in Uganda but also at Edinburgh Zoo.
“I am a big fan of Stockport’s Tarsier Gin and Jackfruit Gin,” says Phil, who is twenty-five, “I have also been inspired by brands like Sapling Vodka, Elephant Gin, and Part-Time Rangers, a hard seltzer brand from New Zealand.”
Germany’s “Elephant Gin” is a template for businesses cultivating a staunch charitable focus. Robin and Tessa Gerlach’s pioneering brand donates 15% of its profits to elephant conservation charities like Space For Elephants and Kenya’s Big Life Foundation which supports 35 anti-poaching rangers’ salaries, food, and equipment for the Ambroseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro ecosystem. “Elephant Gin” has also funded The WildLife Spirit Education Centre in the Lubombo mountains.
Phil shares Gerlach’s opinion that “our generation has the responsibility to keep this planet intact and make sure our children and children’s children are able to experience the same landscapes and wildlife we know today.”.
Fauna Brewing has partnered with three charities, the Cheetah Conservation Fund, Painted Dog Conservation and the African Pangolin Working Group to release three beers, each dedicated to a different endangered species. Says our Sussex / African outdoorsman Phil, “We believe everyone should strive to make a change no matter how big or small and we make it as easy as drinking a beer. There are only 6,700 wild dogs and 7,500 cheetahs left in the wild. Each can of beer has details on it about how the animals are endangered.”
Fauna Brewing has already covered the cost of the support and care of two livestock guard dogs placed with local goat and sheep farmers, scaring away wild predators such as cheetahs. This in turn stops farmers from going out and hunting cheetahs, reducing the level of human-animal conflict. Through the Painted Dog Conservation Fund, Fauna has also removed 45 life-threatening snares. And Fauna has also funded a satellite tracker through the African Pangolin Working Group, which allows the re-introduced pangolin to be properly monitored during its rehabilitation back into the wild. Pangolins, or scaly anteaters, are the world’s most trafficked mammal.
Says Fauna’s founder, “Snares are a huge threat to many species, especially the painted dog, due to the vast amount of distance they cover per day. The fund has also commissioned local artists to create sculptures from the snare wires, turning something once incredibly negative into something extraordinary. We’ve also funded 100km of anti-poaching patrols in Zimbabwe.”
Contributed by Kevin Pilley. Kevin Pilley is a former professional cricketer (mercifully brief) who became chief staff writer of PUNCH magazine. His travel, humour, food & drink work appears worldwide.
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