Countdown to Compassionate Conservation 2015

International Compassionate Conservation conference at University of British Columbia, 28-31 July 2015

World-renowned scientists and experts from the fields of animal welfare and wildlife conservation are meeting in Vancouver next week to discuss how and why conservation is evolving to adopt a more compassionate approach for the future.

Compassionate Conservation is the term given to an emerging movement that unifies animal welfare science with the theory and practice of conservation. It offers a framework that fully considers individual animals within conservation research, policy and practice. Initiated and developed by the Born Free Foundation in tandem with global experts, the movement is gaining acceptance by conservationists looking for more ethical and sustainable ways to tackle conservation problems and wildlife management issues.

Born Free President, Will Travers OBE, who will be speaking at the conference said: “Compassionate Conservation reflects changes in society, changes that mean when faced with threats to biodiversity, we should no longer intervene with heavy-handed and sometimes cruel methods, to do what we have always done before. Conservation is still evolving and I believe Compassionate Conservation offers a new vision and the possibility of improving conservation outcomes while promoting animal welfare.

This prestigious international conference will examine and challenge conservation methods, whilst exploring the moral and ethical arguments around wildlife conflict mitigation and management.

Dr Daniel Ramp, Director of the Centre for Compassionate Conservation, University of Sydney, Australia, of which Born Free is the International Patron Organisation, said: “As billions of wild animals are killed each year, sometimes in the name of conservation, there is an urgent need to find scientific and compassionate solutions to conflicts that meet society’s demand for the humane treatment of wild animals. This conference will provide an opportunity for leading thinkers and scientists to openly discuss what are often ignored and tabooed subjects. In an age of extinction and declining biodiversity, it is imperative that we find compassionate ways to protect animals and still provide for the more than seven billion people on the planet.

An impressive line-up of more than 30 high-profile speakers will lead the debate and discuss the scientific arguments. Speakers include: Dr Sandra Baker, from the University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, who will be discussing minimising welfare impacts in wildlife management; and Prof. David Fraser, University of British Columbia, who will be examining a “practical ethic” for animals.

Compassionate Conservation 2015 also marks the opening of entries for this year’s Virginia McKenna Award for Compassionate Conservation. This prestigious award is bestowed by the actress and co-founder of the Born Free Foundation, Virginia McKenna OBE. The award provides support and recognition for researchers, practitioners, organisations and projects that promote and develop the consideration of animal welfare in conservation.

Past winners include Shivani Bhalla, of the Ewaso Lions Project, for her work on human/lion conflict; Prof. Anna Nekaris, of Oxford Brookes University and the Little Fireface Project, for her work on slow loris conservation and welfare; and last year’s winner, the Mad Dog Initiative – a project which aims to deliver conservation benefits to endangered species by humanely controlling domestic and feral dogs in and around Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar.

Compassionate Conservation 2015 in Vancouver follows the highly-successful, inaugural Compassionate Conservation symposium, held at the University of Oxford, UK, in 2010 and hosted by Born Free and The Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU).