By bucking the traditional tenets of animal conservation, one man has saved more animals than anyone else
Over the last fifty years more than half of all the world’s mammals, birds, fish and reptiles have been declared extinct due to deforestation and other man-made environmental catastrophes.
Through all this environmental carnage, Carl Jones, a Welsh conservation biologist, has been a bright light, doing his best to save a growing number of animals from extinction.
Jones, who’s known for his hands on approach to saving wildlife, first brought back Mauritius kestrels, an endangered bird found off the southeast coast of Africa.
In 1974 there were only 4 birds left, with only one breeding female, who had just laid her eggs.
So Jones, who tends to buck conventional thinking, decided to snatch the eggs from the bird’s nest in hopes that she would lay another round of eggs.
His gambled paid off.
He was able to incubate the eggs he stole and raise the birds until they were ready to be reintroduced back into the wild, while the mother was able to lay another round of eggs.
Today there are over 400 Mauritius kestrels.
He’s also saved the pink pigeon, the echo parakeet, the Rodrigues fody and the Rodrigues warbler, all of which had fewer than 12 known individuals left in the wild, all of which are now thriving.
While many conservationists believe in a hands off approach and prefer to observe nature in its natural setting, Jones tends to do the opposite.
“Do you sit back and monitor a sick patient or do you treat them and see what works? A lot of species have been studied to extinction,” explained Jones.
So instead of sitting back, Jones rolls up his sleeves and jumps into the fray.
“If there’s a shortage of food, you start feeding. If there’s a shortage of nest sites, you put up nest boxes,” said Jones.
When he discovered mongooses – an invasive species brought over to control rats – were raiding and destroying Mauritius kestrels nests, he setup stronger safety measures.
He constructed traps and made mongoose proof nest boxes, so the birds could safely breed in the wild. Sometimes, if he encountered a mongoose, he’d kill it with his bare hands.
While his methods maybe controversial, they’re a winning strategy to bringing wildlife… well… back to life.
In 2016, Jones won the prestigious Indianapolis Prize, which is like the Oscars of the conservation world.
“I know of no other conservationist who has directly saved so many species from extinction,” said Dr. Simon N. Stuart, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, who nominated Jones for the award.
So, while some conservationists wrangle over Jone’s style, he just keeps saving animals and does so with a positive attitude.