Photo: Rescued elephants, Amira and Sizi, meeting each other for the first time before their releaseinto Panda Masuie Forest Reserve ((C) IFAW)

Land in sight for Pangea

After an exhaustive search of over 90 properties, we have finally found ‘Herdade da Pangea’. 

The 993-acre estate, located in Evora, Alentejo, has everything we were looking for: Privacy, abundant water, rolling hills, and a diverse habitat of grasslands, woodland, and scrubland.  Despite its remote location, it falls outside Portugal’s protected areas which could have prevented construction or the introduction of elephants. The areas that have been slightly degraded from cattle grazing and eucalyptus cultivation will be restored to create a haven for both elephants and native wildlife. 

Three shortlisted sites were taken through a rigorous and lengthy process of environmental screening, economic valuations, government consultations, and vendor negotiations to make our final decision. We are especially grateful for the support offered by the local authorities in Alandroal and Vila Viçosa.  

The acquisition process, however, has been incredibly challenging. The nature of the purchase – a European land acquisition by a UK charity – meant that all standard finance options could not be pursued, and at the same time the owner was being approached by other prospective buyers and an agreement was needed quickly. We could raise a deposit from our operational reserves, but as a charity we were not in a position to put those funds at risk with just a 3-month window to fundraise the full amount required.      

As we came close to admitting defeat, Julia Davies of We Have The POWER stepped forward to agree an interest-free philanthropic loan. Julia is an environmental campaigner, lawyer, philanthropist and ‘green innovation’ investor who uses her personal funds to enable charitable projects (including land acquisitions for nature restoration) to move forward.

She is kindly supporting our acquisition on the understanding that we will do all we can to reduce the loan from her needed at completion and then to pay back any loan she does provide as a priority. We can’t progress work on the site or rehoming elephants until the loan is repaid. Equally Julia can’t support the many projects which contact her weekly until her commitment to this project is substantially reduced.  

We are very grateful for those who have stepped forward in the past two months to help us reduce that loan liability, with just over a month to go before the deadline for the transfer of the deeds on 31st March.  We have a long way to go! If you think you can help us and donate towards the land, then please find out more here.  Thank you so much for any support you can offer.Viçosa


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