Global Conservation Issues
At the current rate of use, the Earth's supply of natural resources will only be able to sustain two billion humans by the next century - not good news for a global population already more than six billion. On average, every minute of every day, 274 people are born and only 97 die. A US citizen consumes over 50 times as much energy and resources as one African.50 million acres of tropical rain forests are destroyed annually, which in turn causes some 27,000 species to become extinct, which is where DSWF fits in to the global jigsaw.
Wildlife conservation may seem almost irrelevant compared to dealing with major environmental problems. But the truth is that wildlife conservation is very much in tune with our own survival. All life forms have a role to play in the workings of the natural environment and, the extinction of any species has repercussions throughout the ecosystem. Equally important is the fact that we rely, directly or indirectly, on wildlife for our food, building materials, medicines and many other necessities of life.
And, at the same time we must not lose sight of our moral responsibilities for protecting animals and plants. We should place more value on their presence.
Which is exactly what David Shepherd, does. Having failed to become a game warden he became an artist and after four years of training started on his own with commissions from the RAF which led him back to Africa and his first wildlife painting. In 1960 he went to Tanzania where he witnessed 255 zebra lying dead by a waterhole - poisoned by battery acid - and he became a conservationist overnight. Since then, he has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds through his paintings - and in 1984 he set up his own charity - The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) in order to control the funds that he raised and to repay the debt he owed to the animals he paints.
When David was born in 1931 there were 80,000 wild tigers in Asia - Today, 3 of 8 sub-species are extinct, and the sad fact is that there are more tigers living in cages in America than there are in the wild! When he was 30 years old, there were 3,500 black rhinos in Zambia - today, there are none - they have all been slaughtered during the poaching wars of the 1970s and '80s.
DSWF touches many parts of conservation action, awareness and education. It funds undercover investigations, legal agreements, training, equipping and supplying brave men and women in the front line of the war against poaching, park protection and expansion, wildlife monitoring and community outreach programmes. It has a recognized voice at CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and has it's own 'Global Canvas' Education Campaign which is now being used in over 500 schools here in the UK and abroad.
The challenge is far greater than we can solve alone. Those in government, captains of industry, community leaders and all of us together have firstly to recognize and take ownership of the problem.
It is not simply about selling bush meat for profit but it is the exploitation of a wider global market for medicines and exotic goods that is the real danger, It's all about supply and demand, whether it's in a chic New York boutique on 5th Avenue or a back street chemist in Beijing. In fact, the largest ever seizure of rhino horn was right here in Britain in the early '90s when Customs seized over 100 horns in a flat in Kensington!
The DSWF supported ACAP programme is addressing this international demand with its message 'When the Buying Stops the Killing Can Too' using celebrity adverts, including those from Gary Lineker and Jackie Chan. ACAP is persuading millions of people daily across Asia not to buy wildlife products. In Taiwan, 78% of people who saw our messages said they would never buy wildlife products again, and, in India the TV campaign is reaching a staggering 89% of the population.
At the same time as hitting the consumer end of the illegal wildlife markets we must protect what we have left in the wild - and we have to educate and assist the rural communities who struggle alongside their animal neighbours to scratch out a living.
DSWF is funding projects in Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia as well as in Asia. We operate in some areas where others are wary of going, such as Russia where we have almost certainly helped save the Amur tiger (formerly known as Siberian tiger) from extinction. We also supported anti-poaching in Myanmar's oldest park, which had a thriving tiger population up until the '80s. In less than three decades, criminals, motivated by human greed, have wiped out a tiger population that has roamed the park for thousands of years.
But it is not all bad news and often just a little helps a lot. Over the last few years, working with the local Buddhist communities we have introduced a highly effective anti-poaching programme and community outreach project which is saving wildlife.
We are actively engaged in supporting the Kaziranga National Park in Assam, which is also situated at an important illegal trade route crossroads. This park is home to tigers, wild elephants and ¾ of the last remaining Indian one-horned rhinos. During this season's exceptional monsoon our newly funded radio network provided critical communications for rescue co-ordination during the annual rains cutting wildlife deaths by half. The radios are also proving absolutely vital for anti-poaching patrols and undercover operations fighting against cross border smuggling.
Not all our projects are animal focused. We are actively working with the communities surrounding Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. Despite the terrible economic and political problems facing the country the Painted Dog outreach projects offer employment and education to local communities struggling to survive alongside it dwindling wildlife populations.
Click here to link to the SpeciesHelp website full of facts and figures
(Please note: This is an independent website outside of DSWF's editorial control)