Controversial Conservation: a World Land Trust debate with @ChrisGPackham

October 14, 2013 @ 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Wellcome Trust Lecture Hall, The Royal Society
6-9 Carlton House Terrace
City of Westminster, London SW1Y 5AG
World Land Trust

Chris Packham

Chris Packham – patron of World Land Trust (WLT), TV presenter, zoologist and conservationist – will lead a WLT debate about aspects of conservation that are often swept under the carpet as being too controversial to address. The event is supported by the Sibthorp Trust, which promotes the study and discussion of key environmental issues.

Topics for discussion will include:

Niche species: Which niche species are worth saving? Is it right to divert huge amount of funds to save, for instance, rhinos, pandas and orang-utans? And if so who decides which species can be saved and which are doomed? Reintroductions – can they work? They are hugely costly and can create problems themselves – is it worth doing? Is it enough to maintain a gene pool in zoos and captive collections?

Dangerous wild animals: We tell people in India that they should be protecting their elephants and tigers, despite the fact that they can cause human deaths, eat their cattle and destroy crops. Yet in Britain we are culling badgers because they carry TB. India has TB in wildlife as well, but no badgers. Vivek Menon will champion the cause of living alongside big dangerous animals. And not persecuting badgers.

Persecution of protected wildlife: In this country harriers and goshawks are relentlessly persecuted by those who want to shoot grouse and partridges. “Far too much illegal persecution of protected wildlife occurs and far too much of it is carried out by gamekeepers,” says Mark Avery. And those people feeding birds often want magpies and sparrowhawks controlled because they predate tits and other small birds. How is it that gamekeepers are allowed to get away with it? Or do they have a valid argument?

Domestic cats and feral cats: It is possible to be a wildlife-lover and cat-lover at the same time but many people with cats are in denial that their own pet slaughters wildlife, and those that accept that their cat is a hunter still shrug and say “I know, but I couldn’t live without a cat”. Feral cats on the loose are perhaps an even greater threat and many countries destroy them on sight. Two knowledgeable and charismatic speakers, George Fenwick and Celia Haddon, will put forward their own different viewpoints.

Chris Packham will chair the discussion and, no doubt, add his strong opinions to the mix.

The speakers

Chris Packham is joined by guest speakers Vivek MenonMark AveryGeorge Fenwick and Celia Haddon.

Vivek Menon is founder and Chief Executive of WLT’s overseas partner, Wildlife Trust of India. A wildlife conservationist, environmental commentator, author and photographer with a passion for elephants, he founded Wildlife Trust of India in 1998 in response to the rapidly deteriorating condition of wildlife in India.

Mark Avery, a scientist by training and a naturalist by inclination is former Conservation Director of the RSPB. Mark is a prolific writer on environmental issues, and his often controversial blog is widely read.

George Fenwick, president of American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is outspoken on behalf of ABC on what outdoor cats get up to and believes that cats are killing more than four billion animals every year in the USA, including at least 500 million birds.

Celia Haddon is a writer and a cat expert. While George advocates that cats simply cannot be allowed to predate outdoors, Celia will argue that this is not an acceptable solution. But she does have her own ideas.

Come and join the debate – it is guaranteed to be a lively evening!