The biggest burn of illegal seized ivory not only shows the horrifying extent of this ghastly trade but destroys the possibility of it ever getting into the wrong hands for profit. 105 tonnes of elephant tusks is a shocking number of animals senselessly slaughtered for people who value it for useless trinkets and jewellery. Personally I'd like to see a total ban on the trade of all ivory items antique or otherwise. If the world is serious about saving elephants from extinction in the very near future a total ban by countries worldwide is a necessary step I think.
Wonderful news from the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation and their ongoing efforts to protect the endangered snow leopards in their remote habitats........These beautiful and elusive big cats need all the protection they can get and I am thrilled always to read about positive progress in the fight to save these truly magnificent animals from extinction.
March and April have been good months for the snow leopards that we help to protect. In Mongolia the Parliament recently approved the proposal to turn the Tost Mountains into a Nature Reserve.
The Tost Mountains, in Mongolia's South Gobi, are home to the DSWF supported long-term study and a stable population of snow leopards. Over the years, the team has watched many generations of cats grow up, disperse and start new families in these mountains. DSWF funding has supported research and conservation, advocacy and raising national awareness. Now, over five years in the making, this recent decision is a major victory for the local community and for snow leopards. As a National Reserve, Tost will be off limits to harmful development, but open for sustainable grazing by indigenous herders.
The good news continues in Kyrgyzstan where DSWF support has helped pilot a new conservation programme; turning a hunting concession, where ibex were commercially hunted, into a nature reserve. Kyrgyzstan ranks fifth in the world for snow leopard population and fourth in terms of habitat so protecting this area is key to snow leopard survival. DSWF will support key improvements and upgrades to the infrastructure of the reserve along with support for rangers and essential equipment like camera traps for research.
The mass symbolic burning of ivory in Kenya is a truly sad commentary about the number of slaughtered elephants it would have taken to make a pile weighing in at 100 tonnes. It's almost impossible to imagine the scale of it and if it will ever be stopped. Tragically ivory is so valuable it is difficult to see a day when the ghastly poaching of Africa's iconic animals will end. One of my greatest wishes is to see in my lifetime and end to the wretched plundering of wildlife everywhere in the world but that is probably wishful thinking. At least there is more being done than ever before to protect animals from this horrible fate so I try to remain optimistic change will occur. Credit has to go to the wonderful people on the ground risking their lives every day to stop the epidemic of poaching, they are true warriors for wildlife.
Absolutely thrilled to bits to have notification this week that I have been selected for the prestigious David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year 2016 exhibition in the UK. My painting The Ghost in the Mountains was largely an experimental work incorporating paper for the first time which was pretty challenging. Since first entering this exhibition in 2013 it has been my greatest artistic ambition to be selected for this major art prize and sometimes I honestly thought it would never happen but it has !
Just off the easel
Call of the Wild
acrylic on canvas
90cm x 90cm
Following decades of persecution wolves were almost exterminated from Yellowstone National Park. Elk proliferated causing widespread deterioration of the wilderness as growing populations overgrazed the woody and deciduous plants which in turn devastated large areas of the park. Fortunately by the 1960’s cultural attitudes began to change as biologists and scientists realised the important role that top predators play in the environment. The wolf, highly intelligent and social is one of the most maligned and misunderstood animals of the natural world but great and positive changes have occurred since these animals were reintroduced to the park in 1995.