Alan Jardine - Conservationist with a shark lab and a parrot
If you happen across the small town of Mossel Bay, located at the edge of the Western Cape in South Africa, you may come across a pirate. Initially, he seems to be a grumpy old man with a parrot sitting atop of his shoulder. He is usually sitting by the lighthouse at The Point, staring out to sea; the waves breaking on the shore. If you decide to take your chances and approach the pirate, you will find that you have, without the aid of a treasure map, stumbled upon one of the Garden Route’s hidden gems.
The pirate will tell you stories galore. From taming elephants to helping gorillas to reproduce, he has done it all. If you ask him very nicely, he may even tell you about his experience with swallowing a highly venomous octopus! But what made this pirate decide to leave his life of glory and settle down in this little sanctuary? According to him, from all the places he’s travelled, this is the one in which he felt the most comfortable. “No matter where you go, someone will stop and say hi.” It is more of a “smaller community” than a town. It lacks the “hustle and bustle of a big city”, but silence is not always a bad thing. Regardless, to a pirate, the only important sound is that of waves crashing on the rocks.
"It is not easy to get to a place where you are comfortable, and happy"
After a short conversation, you will find that he is, after all, not so grumpy, not so old, and not so much of a pirate. This is Alan Jardine, a conservationist, marine biologist, zoologist and author. Throughout his life, Alan has switched between a hands-on work experience with nature and suit-and-tie boardroom positions. But by far the most impressive thing he has done is opened his heart to Alex, his seven-year-old parrot who is cared for like a child, and to his wife whom he married in “in his autumn years”.
“It is not easy to get to a place where you are comfortable, and happy” and yet somehow Alan has beaten the odds and is “at the place he needs to be today”.
As he no longer sits in boardrooms, he typically dresses for comfort, but that suits him to his core. Alan Jardine has found his natural haven where he can immerse himself in conservation-work and be at peace with his surroundings.
About Yuli Littman
This #HOTGR piece titled THE PIRATE OF MOSSEL BAY was written by Africa Media Journalism Intern, the the very talented Yuli Littman.
Campaigning for lion rights.
“When I started, we were saying things like ‘Lion farming has no conservation value, it will stimulate illegal trade and poaching’. We were regarded as the lunatic fringe. Now, what we were saying has become mainstream. Everybody’s saying it."
Taking care of the Small Four.
I follow as Marion walks around feeding the cats. The enclosures at the sanctuary are generous; comprised solely of natural materials all aimed at pleasing the kitties. Tree stumps; river sand; long grass and large rocks scatter the floor, making it sometimes hard to spot the elusive small cats. But as Marion mentions over and again: “the enclosures are built for the cats, not the visitors”.
Helping township and feral cats for a living.
“My husband thinks I’m mad. Like, ‘Why do you do something like this all the time and get no pay? Why use your own car?’ But it’s just something that, once you start, you can’t stop. Because you see the amazing difference a little bit of volunteer work can do."