To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the IUCN Red List, IUCN South East Asia Group brought together conservation pioneers in Thailand in an inspiring talk that honours remarkable individuals who have dedicated a lifetime's work to species research and conservation.
Last night’s talk, held at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT) in Bangkok, paid tribute to the invaluable contributions of Dr Boonsong Lekagul, known as the father of Thailand’s conservation movement, and Khun Seub Nakhasathien, who shares the distinction of being among the most inspirational figures in wildlife conservation in the country.
The talk also honoured respected conservationists and guest speakers Jeffrey McNeely, Rataya Chantien and Warren Brockelman, who have also led the way for conservation work in Thailand.
The event, the first of three in the “Wild Talk Series”, was organized by IUCN together with member organizations and Species Survival Commission members in Thailand. The next two in the Wild Talk Series, to be held in January and February 2015, will feature the current and future generations of conservationists in Thailand.
“We are honoured to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the IUCN Red List by paying tribute to the work of scientists and individuals who have been instrumental in contributing to this undertaking,” said Dr Robert Mather, Head of IUCN’s South East Asia Group. “The IUCN Red List, which continues to catalyse much-needed action for biodiversity conservation, ensures that the legacies of Dr Boonsong, Khun Seub, and others like them throughout the world, will not be forgotten.”
Looking forward to the next 50 years, the guest speakers expressed optimism about ongoing and future conservation work in Thailand, despite challenges. They agreed that the key to keeping conservation alive was the importance of getting people, especially the youth, out into nature.
“You can’t develop a love of nature and conservation in people if you don’t take them out there,” said Jeffrey McNeely, who spent most of his career in the wilds of Thailand working with Dr Boonsong. “Helping people see nature, visit the national parks, getting them interested to take this on as a hobby – these are the kinds of things that need to be communicated to younger generations. And they can only be communicated through experience.”
A key take-away from this edition of the Wild Talk Series is that conservation goes hand in hand with love of nature. And in promoting conservation, this is ultimately what the Red List – which helps us better understand the status of species – is about. As Dr Mather concluded: “At the end of the day, you’ll only fight for what you love. You’ll only love what you understand. You’ll only understand what you know. And you’ll only truly know nature if you go out there and experience it.”
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ is the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of wild species and their links to livelihoods. Far more than a list of species and their status, it is a powerful tool to inform and catalyse action for biodiversity conservation, critical to protecting the natural resources we need to survive. The List is known for guiding conservation action and policy decisions over the past 50 years.