Wildlife enthusiasts can now experience the excitement of a safari without leaving the shores of Britain. In May this year Knepp Wildland Safaris opened its 3,500 acre estate, within striking distance of the High Weald near Horsham in West Sussex, as an authentic safari and camping experience.
Just over a decade ago, Sir Charles Burrell began a project to encourage the return of natural biodiversity by creating the largest privately-owned re-wilding project in lowland Europe. Visitors can now encounter herds of horses, cattle, deer and pigs as they roam freely across the Sussex countryside.
Knepp offers both vehicle-based safaris and guided walking tours to showcase its profusion of birds, butterflies, beetles, reptiles, plants and fungi in a setting that feels as wild and dynamic as the African bush. It also provides a choice of accommodation in shepherd's huts or luxurious tents. Alternatively, visitors can pitch their own tents in the exclusive Wildland campsite.
"Re-wilding, along with more conventional forms of farming and forestry, may offer an alternative range of measures that not only give landowners and farmers the opportunity to make a living growing food but also to provide a wider range of services. "Says Jason Lavender, Co-Director of the High Weald AONB, who has been involved with the Wildland Project at Knepp since its inception over ten years ago. "These include landscape conservation and enhancement, renewable energy, bio-diversity, water quality, water availability, soil conservation, carbon storage, air quality and resilience to flooding."
"The vision at the heart of the innovative and large-scale Knepp Wildland Project is of great interest to us. It aims to explore and articulate an alternative way of using land that could become part of an integrated but varied approach to land use. It also allows us to judge the effects of this project on both bio-diversity and the provision of ecosystem services."