About this episode:
Georgina Lamb is the Chief Executive of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation. The charity was founded by her grandfather, the late great artist Sir David Shepherd, and funds key conservation projects across the world. This conversation touches on the history of Shepherd, a man who dedicated his life to force change, and whose paintings are the stuff of legends – one even featured on the wall of the living room in “Only Fools and Horses”! As the second in our series on Wildlife Conservation, this episode moves on to discuss the impact of the foundation, and the work it’s doing with chimpanzees, snow leopards, rhinos, painted dogs and how the DSWF sits in the greater picture of conservation, working within the framework of CITES. Georgina explains how they’re working with rangers to fight the illegal wildlife trade, where products like ivory are often worth more than gold and cocaine on the black market. She explores how the foundation sticks to its roots by harnessing the power of art to communicate their message, and explains how the memory of her grandfather is always with her, reminding her that “giving up is not an option”.
This interview is released as one of three “Conservation Conversation” episodes, they are:
(1) Will Travers OBE: Born free and committed to compassionate conservation
(2) Georgina Lamb & the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation: A lamb leading lions, elephants, pangolins, snow leopards, rhinos…
(3) Mark Carwardine: On the realities of anti-poaching patrols & his conservation heroes
There’s a lovely quote from an old English theologian which refers to the complexity and depth of the bible as having “shallows where the lamb may wade, and deeps where the elephant may swim”. Challenges of similar extremes seem to face all those committed to a life in conservation. Quite frankly – saving the planet appears to be a never ending uphill challenge. Having had insights into Born Free last week, and through talking about Georgina’s grandfather this week, it raises the question: is holding the course of conservation a smidge easier for organisations bonded through blood? From legacies set in motion by the likes of David Shepherd or Bill Travers, it’s heartening to witness organisations like the DSWF and Born Free continue their good work through the hands of sons, daughters, grandchildren, and the many other volunteers, patrons and supporters who adopt a family’s ethos. Ultimately, it’s not a question of whether family ties keep an organisation on track, we’re just bloody lucky that organisations like these exist at all. From a shared heritage, a continuing determination arises to fight for our planet across the decades – our environment’s survival benefits from the pride of long running “family firms”.
Georgina raises a very clear point; that artwork enables the DSWF, and enabled David Shepherd, to have “difficult conversations through a beautiful medium”. Whether it is the Wildlife Artist of the Year or the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, there’s no denying that creativity provides humanity with a tool to condense issues as large as climate change, deforestation, wildlife poaching & trafficking, and reduce them to an image that can inspire action. It’s haunting to imagine how much we may have lost if the likes of David Shepherd hadn’t started on their renewed life goals, and if people like Georgina hadn’t taken on the mantle. And fortunately, we’ll never know. But it is important to remember that your actions can similarly send ripples into the future that could have consequences far outweighing their initial impetus.
For some, I fear that having two heavy conservation episodes back to back may seem a little like overkill, but if you think that the point of this podcast series was for anything other than to try and preserve our delicate environment, then you really haven’t been listening very hard at all! But, that aside, I challenge you all to put your support behind an environmental organisation in these harsh times of COVID-19, it really can make a huge difference.
Photography of Elephants used to promote this episode were taken by, and kindly provided by, the inimitable David Fettes – you’ll recognise the name from an interview we conducted with him in season one. Why not listen to that episode next?
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
David Shepherd (Wiki) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Shepherd_%28artist%29
The SockStar Project – https://www.thesockstarproject.org/
CITES – https://cites.org/
Burning Ivory (The Guardian) – https://www.theguardian.com/environment/africa-wild/2016/apr/23/why-it-makes-sense-to-burn-ivory-stockpiles