Magazine article Geographical

Chloe Scott-Moncrieff in Coversation with ... Martin Clunes

Magazine article Geographical

Chloe Scott-Moncrieff in Coversation with ... Martin Clunes

Article excerpt

Martin Clunes, 43, is best known for his role in the TV comedy Men Behaving Badly, but he is also a patron of international wildlife charity Born Free, which celebrates its 21st birthday in March. In 1999, he travelled to Tanzania to film Born to be Wild about the release of a captive elephant

How did you become interested in protecting animals?

Born Free approached me, actually. I worked with the actress and Born Free founder Virginia McKenna in the Outer Hebrides many years ago. Virginia hadn't been in the Hebrides since they filmed Ring of Bright Water there. It was very special meeting her; she's an inspiring lady. That was when I became aware of the cause. Also, the first film I ever saw in the cinema was Born Free. I think the second one was Ring of Bright Water, which starred McKenna and her husband, Bill Travers. I got involved with Born Free about 12 or 13 years ago. I'm not a patron of anything else environmental, but I am a lifelong bunny hugger.

Has working for a wildlife charity taught you anything?

Of course, yes. It doesn't take a great deal to understand. When you see, for example, an elephant's social behaviour, the way they care for their young, you get a greater sense of the rights and wrongs; they should be protected. I've visited Amboseli National Park in Kenya for Born Free. We also filmed [the Born to be Wild BBC documentary in 1999] at the Mkomazi game reserve in Tanzania.

Do you ever get embroiled in politics between animal and human welfare as a result of getting involved?

No--the local people and politicians don't know who I am. I'm not an expert; I just do as Born Free asks me to. I'm not a politician.

Which animal's welfare do you fear for the most?

The one to which I've had the most exposure is an elephant in Mkomazi called Nina; she has a calf now, which is wonderful. She had been in captivity at the Mount Meru Wildlife Sanctuary for more than 25 years and we took her back to life in the wild. When I met her, she was spoilt and chubby, so we built a rapport. She knew me as the guy with sugar cane. I made a clicking noise every time I visited her, so she came to recognise me through the clicking. She was supposed to be released into the wild after three months of acclimatising, but she took five months. In the middle of the night, she climbed out into the wild.

The more you see, the more ludicrous you realise it all is. …

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