Mark Carwardine: On the realities of anti-poaching patrols & his conservation heroes

Sep 14 2020

David Oakes catches up again with Mark Carwardine to talk about his first-hand experiences of wildlife poaching and his conservation heroes.

David Oakes

David Oakes


Mark Carwardine


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About this episode:

In the final of three episodes focused on Animal Conservation, David Oakes speaks again (you’ll remember him from his Narwhal-centric episode at the top of this season) to Mark Carwardine – zoologist, conservationist, broadcaster and photographer. Having been out on foot patrols upon most of the planet’s continents, Mark explains the realities of being a wildlife ranger. The risks of poachers, animals and accidents; the reality of spending weeks on end away from civilisation, safe drinking water and emergency medical support, and; the impact this places, not simply upon the individual, but also upon one’s family. Having lost a friend to this most noble and most dangerous of professions, Mark explains why anti-poaching rangers should be considered the real “heroes of conservation”.

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

David's thoughts:

Let me start by saying that if you haven’t heard my initial interview with Mark, recorded in October 2019 on the banks of the Serpentine, it can be found here and is really worth a listen. Mark is a font of knowledge and experience, and in that interview our discussion is far more wide-reaching than simply animal poaching and wildlife conservation.

When I spoke to Mark in October, Extinction Rebellion were at the same time blocking off Oxford Circus in London. Days before releasing this episode they were at it again. XR were blocking trucks from departing newspaper printing factories; stopping the distribution of journals that often avoid reporting global environmental concerns. Through talking to Mark about Global Witness with this as a backdrop, I find it hard not to admire those risking their liberties on behalf of the environment.

That said, I wish our governments would do more to make these actions unnecessary. But, the other backdrop to these events and these Wildlife Conservation conversations, is a British government deliberately contemplating a breach of international law, the removal of environmental commitments from the Brexit fisheries bill and another massive U-turn on the Badger cull. I have no faith in our country’s current government to protect our planet’s greatest resource – the environment.

Subsequently, through my discussions with Will, Georgina and Mark, and hearing about the many people with which they ally their efforts, I find myself hoping that more people will be prepared to stand up to help our planet at this time. If there’s anything you could do right now to make me happy, you could do a lot worse than taking 20 minutes to read some of the latest headlines on the Global Witness website, or indeed 58 minutes to watch the BBC & David Attenborough’s long overdue expose on the issues facing our planet in Extinction: The Facts.

Mark Carwardine with Siberian tiger anti-poaching patrol (with secret police for extra protection), 600 miles north of Vladivostok, Russian Far East



“The Three-body Problem” by Cixin Liu

“Animal Liberation” by Peter Singer


Mark Carwardine –

Global Witness –

Rhino Poaching Decreasing? (Guardian) –

Lion Whisker IDing (Guardian) –

Ugandan Gorilla Prison Sentence (Guardian) –

Cecil, the Lion (Guardin) –

Virunga Volcano Park (Wiki) –

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