Richard Peirce, well known shark conservationist and author of the recently published book The Poachers Moon gave a thought-provoking talk at the Green House at the end of November.
The thesis of his talk was that the many NGOs working in the area of wildlife conservation are perhaps sending out the wrong message themselves. In order to publicise the good news and to attract funding they only report their successes and don’t point out failures. In this way they are promoting the dangerous illusion that wildlife conservation is alive and well. This is far from reality. In the last 40 years the world has lost 50% of its wildlife and some species are on the brink of extinction. Conservation NGOs may be winning the battle on some fronts but the war appears to be lost.
Richard showed film footage illustrating two cases in point – the loss of sharks from the Arabian Gulf and the poaching of rhinos in South Africa. He pointed out that while the demand for animal products is there, often as status symbols, the slaughter will continue.
He suggested possible remedies, including recognition of shortcomings by NGOs; an audit of NGO efficiency and effectiveness; a new UN body with global budgets for awareness, research and aid; improved policing of wildlife crime; and empowerment of local communities in terms of benefits from wildlife conservation.