Conservation's Dirty Secrets (Part 2)
Well what a let down. Conservation (like almost every thing in the world) has a few problems. It also has skeletons in cupboards. But Joy Adamson was neither a conservationist, nor is her story a dirty secret. Joy (nee Friederike Victoria Gessner) was a first rate artist, who became a 'celeb' because of a book she wrote about her pet lion. Her story was quite peripheral to mainstream conservation, and happened half a century ago and is very well known. Like Diane Fossey, she treated her staff badly, and was probably murdered by one of them. And no conservationist would consider Daphne Sheldrick's animal orphanage as playing a mainstream part in conservation. It has as much to do with real conservation as Orang-utan rescue centres, or most other wildlife rescue centres. They cannot be dismissed, but should not be confused with conservation.
And as for working with communities, there is nothing new in this; it's what we do. It has its problems. Communities rarely exist as cohesive entities, as anyone who has ever lived in a village (or listened to The Archers) will know. Just as Indigenous People are often almost impossible to define. These are all problems that conservationists such as myself have to work with, and in our case we do it by working with local NGOs who understand the community issues.
To summarise. The despatches programme was certainly unhelpful. It did not actually expose anything significant. It probably did not actually harm conservation, as I doubt anyone really committed to supporting conservation would take it seriously. But send your comments (and show your support for our work, if you can, with a donation). We really can demonstrate success through our partners.