Tag Archives: tigers

Chris Packham, conservation and cuddly mammals

I just spent an evening listening to Chris Packham talk about his photographs and conservation issues.

Some may know him from his very reasoned argument that we spend too much time, effort and cash trying to save Pandas. I wholeheartedly agree with him ( and managed to tell him so tonight ).

I enjoyed his very serious points about the potential of extinction of wild tigers. We have so many in captivity that they probably won’t die out totally, just in their chosen natural habitat. I share his frustration with attempts to save the Wildcat, as it easily interbreeds with pet and feral cats. I have little time for pets that have been introduced into important environments : for instance I would ban all tourists from selected Galapagos islands, and make sure we cleared all of the cats goats and rats. I’d love to do that with Madagascar too, but I think it would be an impossible task.

But why I chose to write this was that I was actually quite disappointed by the reaction of the audience to many of his photos. Chris, if you do happen to read this, I hope some of your audiences see what a challenge we have to save environments and animals dependent on them. I hope that the ‘oooo’s and ‘aarrr’s heard tonight are not totally representative of how we Brits view the natural world. As a set of cuddly mammals

OK – so thinking that Big Cats are cuddly is fine, because. to be honest, they are… and having photos that show them ( literally ) in their best light, is a great start. But I wondered, while people were cooing over the pictures, if they grasped the enormity of what we are doing to the world. Drat, I’m on that same old hobby horse again. I must feel really strongly about how we are not looking after the planet.

What I heard was a shared passion for natural history. A shared love of animals whatever shape, size or smell. A shared concern for how we can make a serious change in conserving and increasing numbers of animals. I hope that the people in the audience work this through, and relate it to how they might alter their behaviour to help.

Chris suggested making sure the audience set their children or grandchildren free in the countryside to climb trees, to fall out trees, to get dirty, to collect things : to wonder at the world and develop a love for nature. That is just what I used to when I was growing up and never really lost the love of our countryside and the fauna and flora in it : and it is just what many kids simply do not get an opportunity to do : but they would love it if they did.

Let’s hope that at least half of the audience concluded that they need to change, even slightly, how they view the world, how they bring up their kids, how they think about food production and how they can help conserve those cuddly mammals they all cooed over. If they did, then the world will wake up a little easier tomorrow morning, knowing that the legion of its supporters expanded a little overnight.

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The BBC, poor English, Rhinos and Chinese Medicine

So I am watching the BBC news as I regularly do. Getting annoyed and distracted by it too, as I do all too often do these days.

The reason is simple. Not only do they believe that their viewers should not see reports that contain pictures of dead or dying people or animals or parts of the same ( which they never show by the way, unlike Al Jazeera TV who have a great belief in showing it as bad as it is ), but they also believe that if there is the slightest chance of viewers being upset by the pictures, the have to warn them before the report.

They warn them within the most stupid statement a broadcaster has ever dreamt up.

“This report contains graphic images”

People !!! You at the BBC are in the TV business, of course TV reports contain graphic images. That is your business. Graphic images ! You have managed to reduce the size of the irrelevant and distracting tickers that ran along the bottom of the screen, so can you please work on your use of accepted English words.

This time the report was of Rhino poaching in Africa. Terrible, terrible. We do not have the right to kill these fantastic animals to tear off their horns for some spurious use in Traditional Chinese medicine.

We don’t have the right to chase any animal to extinction in the mistaken belief that rhino horn cures a variety of ills, or the tiger penis cures impotence. If the tiger is as important to Chinese culture as the dragon, maybe that same belief will be the driver to make tigers extinct, just like the dragons …..

Stop it. Stop it before it’s too late. And don’t rely on tigers being kept captive in Vietnam. It surely is not a sustainable solution.

If you want to try natural remedies, try the plants. That is a much more rational and promising approach to getting people back to health. Many of our drugs have been derived from plants. They work rather well, are mostly easy to look after and propagate and grow in almost every country you need them to.

Maybe I’ll discuss the anthropogenic extinction event another day …. just so long as I don’t get onto the correct usage of “less” and “fewer” in the media … they really should learn to be more responsible with their use of language.