GEORGE ADAMSON August 20th – a Date to Remember
Together with his wife Joy and a lioness called ‘Elsa’, George Adamson changed the way the world looked at lions – in fact he changed the way the world looked at wild animals. No longer remote, dangerous, ‘red in tooth and claw’, thanks to the Adamsons’ work ‘beasts’ became individuals, with personalities, feelings, emotions.
That revelation was embraced by people such as Jane Goodall, Biruté Galdikas, Daphne and David Sheldrick, Cynthia Moss, Joyce Poole, Dian Fossey, Ian Redmond and many more, each one adding to our growing knowledge and understanding. Without knowing it they had begun to help define Compassionate ConservationTM, a term that Born Free and others now place at the core of their conservation work – where individual animals and their needs are considered as part of conservation initiatives to deliver better, more effective and more compassionate outcomes.
George was one of the founder Patrons of Zoo Check, the precursor to The Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by a handful of activists including Bill, Virginia and myself. He was a close personal friend of the family, staying with us for over a month when, together with my father, for hour after hour, he recorded the memories, recollections and reflections that would become his final book, My Pride and Joy.
His murder, 23 years ago today, August 20th 1989, driving to the rescue of a guest being assaulted by bandits near his remote camp in Kora Reserve, sent a shudder round the world. The final words of his book seemed prophetic.. “Who will now care for the animals…. Who will raise their voices when mine is carried away on the wind… “
The answer should in some way reassure his spirit, wherever it is. Thousands of people, either through their support for Born Free or the work of Tony Fitzjohn, his protégée, continue to raise their voices not just for the animals of Kora, or the animals of Kenya – but for all wild animals in need around the world. That is his legacy.
Today we acknowledge the passing of a wildlife hero and rededicate ourselves to keeping the spirit of Elsa burning bright.
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