|Where:||Beverly Hills, California|
Friends of Tusk USA
The setting was about as far away from Africa as it gets. Up a winding private road in Beverly Hills, on an immaculate estate with views that stretched out toward the Pacific Ocean.
Just another sleepy Sunday morning, save for the fact a handful of Hollywood’s more celebrated residents had gathered to await the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of
Cambridge, who were there to mark the launch of the US Patrons’ Circle.
“It was an honour to open my home to Tusk for the launch of their US Patrons’ Circle,” said host Steve Tisch, Oscar-winning film producer and philanthropist. “The organisation is at the forefront of addressing the mounting problems in preserving Africa’s natural heritage and culture. It was inspiring to not only have Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend the event, but also to hear how passionately they speak about their commitment to the cause.”
Simply introducing themselves as William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess circulated easily among the guests, who included award-winning actresses Reese Witherspoon and Catherine Keener, Disney CEO Bob Iger and his wife, American television correspondent Willow Bay, theatre producer and philanthropist, Jessica de Rothschild and screenwriter Kristin Gore, daughter of former Vice President, Al Gore. Though the talk, was festive, it was anything but Hollywood as everyone seemed eager to focus on the projects Tusk supports across Africa.
“The community aspect to Tusk’s work is really very impressive,” said ‘Guess’ brandfounder Maurice Marciano. “It is important everyone knows that conservation is about people as well as wildlife.”
There was also much discussion about the challenges being faced across Africa as a result of the resurgence in elephant and rhino poaching. Conservationist Tony Fitzjohn, whose experiences with poaching over the last forty years makes him better versed than most, spoke at length with various guests about the situation in East Africa in particular, as well as the escalating demand for ivory coming from Asia.
By the time everyone sat down to a buffet lunch, catered by famed chef Wolfgang Puck – himself an ardent supporter of all things African – more offers of support were pledged and trips to Africa were being excitedly tabled. “I would love to plan a trip with my children,” Reese Witherspoon said to Catherine Keener, who had just returned from taking her son to visit a handful of Tusk projects in Kenya. “It was amazing,” said Keener, “really inspiring.”
Before the Duke and Duchess left, Andy Goss, President of Jaguar Land Rover North America and one of the sponsors of the event, announced the donation to Tusk of a new Land Rover Defender. While Dom Perignon, another sponsor on the day, further committed to support Tusk USA’s future events. “The US, with its deserved reputation in supporting philanthropic causes, provides Tusk with a huge opportunity to raise much-needed funds for wildlife conservation and community development projects across Africa,” said Tusk CEO and founder Charlie Mayhew.