Meet the team: Chris Ransom, Director of Field Programmes

Chris Ransom joined the Durrell team in March as Director of Field Programmes. This role includes the management of Durrell’s rewilding sites around the world. In this interview, Chris gives us an insight into his work before joining the team and his aspirations for the vital work that Durrell does. 
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What have your first impressions been of Durrell?  

Durrell has always had a fantastic reputation, but being on the inside, I can honestly say the work they deliver is really outstanding, and they continue to lead the way in species conservation. There are so many dedicated and inspiring people here, all of whom have been so welcoming. It is great to see how much collaboration there is across the Trust, and everyone works towards achieving our mission. It feels like a privilege to have joined the team.  


How has it been starting a new job during the COVID-19 lockdown?  

It has been a strange and, at times, challenging start to my time here. I didn’t meet anyone from Durrell in person for the first four months, and I only made it to Jersey for the first time in September. It feels like I’ve spent the last six months on Zoom, while also having to home-school two young children. One thing I have learnt is that I am not cut out to be a teacher.  


What excited you about this job when you first saw it advertised?  

I read Gerald Durrell’s books when I was a kid, and long admired the work of Durrell. When I saw the job advertised, I knew this was an opportunity to continue the work that Gerry started, and that was such an exciting opportunity. I have also known Durrell’s CEO Lesley Dickie for many years. The opportunity to work with her again was a big attraction, especially after talking to her and hearing more about the Rewild Our World Strategy, the amazing programmes and the fantastic team we have here. I couldn’t wait to be part of it. 

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When travel restrictions allow, which one of Durrell’s field programmes are you most looking forward to visiting?  

I’ve been fortunate to visit and work in many countries around the world, but none of those in which Durrell currently works, so I am excited to visit all of them when I can. If I had to pick one, then I think it would be Assam to meet the rarest pig in the world and see the incredible work the team are doing reintroducing pygmy hogs to the wild. It is a part of the world that I have always wanted to visit and to see those sub-Himalayan grasslands and the species that live there will be a bucket list moment. After the year we have had, I think my wife might secretly be hoping I’ll go to Mauritius first and take her!  


Tell us about your experience before Durrell and what you hope to achieve in this role?  

I’ve spent most of my career working in the field on conservation projects or managing and leading programmes from the UK. The year prior to joining Durrell I worked for a large philanthropic foundation, which was a bit of a change for me to step back from programmes and be granting out money rather than trying to raise it. I’m really excited about helping Durrell deliver our current strategy and thinking about where we might want to go with this in the future. The challenges the planet faces are huge, but we can play an important role in addressing them if we focus our skills and experience on the areas where we can have the most impact.  


Any highlights at Durrell so far?  

This is an easy one! I was fortunate to get the opportunity to accompany the rescued Mauritian reptiles on the last leg of their journey from London to Jersey. That was my first, and likely last, time on a private jet. Not a bad way to arrive in Jersey for the first time and especially when delivering such precious cargo.  


When did you decide you wanted to be a conservationist?  

I don’t think there was one pivotal moment, but it seemed a natural career path following a childhood around animals and reading a lot of books about animals and conservation. I particularly remember Gerry’s books and Born Free by Joy Adamson, which inspired me, and I always loved nature and the outdoors. I knew from quite early on that I was going to work with wildlife in some way and dreamt of some romantic lifestyle surrounded by wilderness and wildlife. Working out of a box room at home in south London for the last six months isn’t quite what I envisaged!