Amazing and wonderful. Dr George Schaller, possibly the most revered naturalist in the world today, a man who has done perhaps more to highlight the plight of numerous big cat species from tigers to snow leopards, speaking last night (Monday 17th September) at the Oxford Natural History Museum where he was the recipient of an award presented to him by Dr Thomas Kaplan, Founder of the Panthera Foundation, described the reasoning behind his commitment to these species and many others as being driven by “passion” and “love”.
How often have we been told that we should not let emotion get in the way of a practical agenda? How we should not be ruled by our heart but only by our head. And yet, it seems to me that Dr Schaller has it right. It is our intense personal passion and commitment and, to use his word, love, for the amazing wild species of this planet that inspires us to save them. Not because of the economic benefits they bring to people – although many of them do – not because their skins look good on hunter’s wall, not because they provide medicinal products of dubious efficacy to our ailing human societies, but because they are simply wonderful creatures that touch our souls. There can be no better reason and it was good to hear it loud and clear from such a deeply respected individual.
The 300 Felid conservationists and scientists gathered under the auspices of the Wildlife Conservation and Research Unit (WildCru) at Oxford University, will spend the next three days considering what can be done to reduce human/animal conflict, to stem the destructive tide of humanity that is destroying the remaining, viable wildlife habitat, to protect the prey species that so many cat species depend on for their survival. I hope that they will heed Dr Schaller’s words. I hope we all will.