The Sussex Wildlifer
About Me

The year 2012 saw me reach a milestone in my life; I achieved my three score years and ten - so everything from now in is a bonus! As I look back on my life I realise just how blessed I have been. Always interested in all forms of wildlife and wildlife photography, I was able to retire in my mid-fifties and indulge these passions to the full, at the same time combining them with a third passion, that of travel. When not travelling, I spend my time trying to create an increased awareness of the problems faced by wildlife on my 'local patch', recording populations of birds, moths, butterflies, dragonflies and wildflowers and trying to protect and improve wildlife habitats.

With my wife Toni, I set off in the autumn of 2002 on a round-the-world wildlife trip of a lifetime, which was to last for a total of 169 days. We tailored our itinerary around endangered wildlife, this taking us to many of the most beautiful locations in the world: Rarotonga, the Fijian Islands, many of the New Zealand islands, Australia, including Lord Howe Island and Tasmania and then, finally, Singapore. We learnt a great deal about endangered species and the reasons for their decline. One reason stood out above all others: mankind and greed were having a devastating impact, but this was clearly not understood by the majority of people to whom we spoke. Fijians believed that the almost total loss of their small endemic forest birds was because introduced species like the common myna were driving them out. Now, mynas are not birds of dense forest or jungle. Humans have cleared almost all the ancient forests for commercial purposes and there is simply nowhere to go for the forest bird species. In New Zealand huge factory fishing boats were baiting thousands of hooks on a single line reaching up to 200 (Yes, 200) miles in length and this was having a decimating effect on certain species of albatross. They were having a very hard time of it trying to introduce measures to counteract this. I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

Since then, we have visited several world wildlife hotspots; Madagascar for the beautiful lemurs, birds, chameleons and amazing flora, the Galapagos Islands for its unique fauna, the Indian tiger reserves, Central and South America for the incredible birdlife, not forgetting the many wonderful locations much closer to home, such as the Farne Islands and those bird islands off the Welsh coast. One thing is quite clear - mankind is swamping wildlife, slowly but surely driving it to the brink of extinction. As the world fills up with human beings, the impact this has on wildlife is devastating. People seem incapable of realising that it is no longer right to believe in putting the human race before all else. I would say that 99% of the people I know still believe that people should come first, ignoring totally the fact that wildlife around the world also has a right to exist!

What really disturbs me most is that so many species of animals, which were incredibly numerous in my youth, are now in serious decline. When I was young, house sparrows were as common as muck, often almost despised, but now they are critically endangered in locations such as London. Likewise, the common lapwing, once so numerous and whose eggs were sold in the London markets, has become rare and is in serious decline. I could go on, and on! The reasons? Mankind's heavy footprint! I cannot imagine living in a world bereft of animals, save for a few lingering on in small reserves around the world. I find it inconceivable to imagine a summer without clouds of butterflies rising into the air on a hot summer day, and yet that is precisely what we face. Almost all of our butterflies and moths are in serious decline, even the commonest ones. Perhaps we should all be steadying ourselves for the inconceivable. God help us all! God, please forgive us all....

There are those who criticize international travel on the grounds that it is environmentally unfriendly. My answer to these critics is simple. We are observing the terminal decline of huge numbers of critically endangered animals, more possibly than has ever been recorded in the entire history of the world in such a short timescale. If we are not to witness this annilhilation, we need to urgently address the unsustainable growth in the human population and the rape of our natural resources and habitats. We just have to start puttiing our wildlife before our ultimately unsustainable commercial interests. My hope is simply this: to encourage many more people to become involved with their local wildlife, to show it off to others. In Madagascar, some enlightened local communities have begun to realise that they can actually make a living from showing off their wildlife. This gives them a stake in their local flora and fauna. I hear those who want us to stop importing beans from Kenya and to severely limit the number of tourists visiting the national game reserves there. Consider this, if you put people out of work, where do they turn to to fill their bellies? Just how long would the wildlife last, before ending up as 'bush meat', or worse, being poached for their 'parts', to be sold in to the new middle classes of China? My view is that wildlife is simply not going to survive without a huge effort from the human race and we have to stop putting humans and their commercial interests before all else.

I hope that this web site will perhaps highlight some of the endangered, beautiful creatures that exist, but more importantly I hope it will serve to inspire the next generation. Many of the creatures you see on this web site can be categorised as "the last chance to see". Will my grandson and grand-daughter ever get the chance to see them in the wild, in their proper and natural environment? Will my generation pass on anything worthwhile to its grandchildren? Goodness, I do hope so!