Con­ser­va­tion in con­text

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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

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