A few years ago I was stunned to hear scientists had proven dogs experienced emotion such as jealousy, happiness and sadness. I was on my sofa as the TV newsreader educated viewers with the latest research. Vishnu, our German Shepherd cross, lying at my feet, must have heard my sharp intake of breath. He sighed and stretched, unimpressed that his obvious boredom was now proven real. Science sometimes needs time to figure out the obvious. Its relentless search to prove beyond doubt has, at times, caused irreparable harm. The best example is probably how the tobacco industry, faced with evidence of a correlation between smoking and cancer in the 1950s, used scientists to muddy the waters for f


There is an extraordinary truth to the expression “it’s written all over your face.” It was 1994 and I was an observer at the CITES Conference in Fort Lauderdale, USA. These huge decision-making events take place every two to three years and attract thousands of government delegates, lawyers, conservationists, traders, scientists, journalists and NGOs. It was my fourth CITES conference and I’ll readily admit that, for me, they come close to some of my worst experiences, such as seeing live pilot whales carved up in front of me. But I was there to fight for wildlife. I found the room number I had been given for a meeting and quietly entered. Thirty to forty men were gathered, some standing


I spent a great deal of my life in the late 1980s undercover, following the sound of drills carving out ivory name seals for the Japanese market and crude souvenirs for tourists. Hong Kong ivory traders set up small factories in Africa, the Middle East and across Asia. I met many of them, discussed their business and learned their scams. These were the people behind the slaughter of around 70,000 elephants every year. Thirty years later I hear the same failed arguments and proposals for ivory trade, often from the same people and organisations. It is with a degree of disbelief I see the international community arguing the same points as if nothing has been learned from the past. Apparently i

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