Conservation in context
Professor Grahame Webb is one of the world’s leading figures in conservation and his considered book, In the Belly of the Beast,
is worth revisiting given the recent focus on animal welfare activism.
Professor Webb was a keynote speaker at the recent Conservation through Sustainable use of Wildlife Conference in Brisbane.
Professor Webb was instrumental in establishing the framework that not only led to the recovery of crocodile numbers in northern Australia but also established a multimillion dollar export industry and an equally significant crocodile tourism industry.
He said at the time crocodiles had little value to most of the community and It was hunters, who has killed crocodiles for their skins since the 1940s that were the first to sound the alarm.
As a leading figure in wildlife conservation through sustainable use, Professor Webb has long pondered the definition of conservation. “Conservation in its broadest sense is the actions you take to preserve and maintain items to which you attribute a positive value.” The problem with crocodiles was that for most people, they had no value. There was also a big negative for the human population.
The commercial crocodile farming industry provided part of the “value” needed to drive conservation but by far the biggest influence has been tourism.
Crocs are now so valued even the occasional attack doesn’t spark calls for their destruction. “We made crocs not only valuable, but we made it totally sustainable.”
With the closure of the books original publisher the book is now available from only one source