The Travers Family Story

 

The Travers story is a fundamental part of my brand, who I am as an artist and designer, and why I launched the company with a Safari wallpaper and fabric collection. Their journey is enchanting, captivating and incredibly uplifting, so I am dedicating this page to The Travers family to share their beautiful tale.

 

Travers' family lion

Norman Travers 10th October 1921 – 18th March 2010

 

Norman Travers was my husband’s grandpa and was the amazing man who started Imire Rhino and Wildlife Conservation in Zimbabwe in the 1950’s. Norman is walking with their lion, Cassius (named after Cassius Clay, later Muhammed Ali). He would often adventure off into the African bush with Cassius, Dudley their pet warthog, Bere the hyena, Potter the Otter, their two Labradors, a daschund and a cat. His love for the wildlife was as close as it was for his own kids and today, his grandchildren are working so hard to continue his amazing efforts to conserve and protect. I’m in total awe of what they have achieved and Norman would be incredibly proud.

Here is a video created by Marlina Moreno and Zabder Bertge from Project Conservation, to show you Imire today, and the work involved to help protect and conserve the wildlife in Zimbabwe.

 

 


 

Who was Norman Travers?

 

Norman began as a tobacco farmer, but his passion for wildlife and conservation soon led him to convert large portions of his farmland back into natural bushland.

Local Zimbawbean writer, Cathy Buckle, published a book on Norman shortly after he passed away in 2010 – “The Life and Times of Norman Travers’

She writes: “Norman Travers was a visionary conservationist and an enduring optimist. Through two wars he displayed great courage and leadership and was awarded a Military Cross for bravery. Passionate about wildlife, Norman demonstrated that maize and tobacco farming could be practised side by side with game animals. Hand rearing lions, elephants and leopards, Norman and Gilly Travers built up Imire Game Park at a time when the country was ravaged by war. When black rhinos were being decimated by poaching, Norman introduced them to Imire, reared the calves and released them back into the wild, winning a Wildlife Oscar for his efforts.”

 

Norman and Gilly Travers

 

After an incredible life, Norman died of a heart attack on March 2010 and Gilly passed away a few years later.

As family and loved ones gathered for Norman’s funeral, and sat on hay bales and prepared for the burial, Mac and Toto, two of Normans beloved elephants arrived unbidden and wandered through the crowd. They lumbered up to the coffin and sniffed it, long and intently. Mac then participated in helping with the burial, using his trunk to pour soil over the coffin of the man who nurtured him as an orphaned elephant back in the late 1970’s.

When the last spadeful of earth had been cast on the grave, Mac and Toto stood together on the heap of ground that lay beneath them. Three times in the next week, they returned and stood by the grave and still return every so often to this very day.

Elephants are known to have a fascination with death so everyone at the funeral was convinced they were mourning their loved one.

 

 

The Next Generation

“We have not inherited the Earth from our parents, we have borrowed it from our children.”

Norman’s grandson, Reilly Travers as you saw in the video above, now manages Imire and is passionate about carrying on Norman’s legacy. Reilly grew up in a household where the family animals, including a half-ton juvenile rhino, wandered in and out of the house, ate up the flower beds and shared breakfast with the family on the lawn on Sundays. Wildlife and conservation is everything he has ever known and after years of learning from his grandfather, he is now at the forefront, facing the never ending challenges with poaching, funding and working hard to keep it all moving forward in a positive direction.

 

Reilly and Norman Travers in 2004

 

I had a long chat to Reilly about his own passions, what and who inspires his work today and what the future looks like for Imire. Below are two voice recordings, mixed in with some incredible footage and images taken by those both working and living at Imire over the past decade.

 

Imire Today And the people Involved To Keep It Running

 

Hopes And Plans For The Future

 

 

If you would like to get involved, or read more about the volunteer programme at Imire, please visit their website: https://www.imire.co.zw/volunteer/

 

Norman in the garden with Cassius

 

To finish off, here are my wonderful cousins, who are living and working at Imire along with everyone else seen in the footage above, to make it all happen. John and Judy Travers who inherited Imire from Norman, their son Reilly and his wife Candice who manage the conservancy and volunteer programme, Reilly’s sister Kate and her partner Chris who run Sable Lodge, and Reilly’s brother Bruce and his wife Zuz, who grow crops on the arable land.

You can already see a huge gathering of little Travs, who will no doubt follow suit, and continue to work with everyone in the local communities, to help protect and conserve the wildlife in Africa for many generations to come.