The View from Here


Some Paranoid Thoughts on Ivory-Bill Conservation
February 21, 2010, 10:51 am
Filed under: Ivory-Billed Woopeckers

On our last trip to Bruce Creek, I talked to a few locals about Ivory-Bills. To a man, none of them want the Ivory-Bill to be discovered in their area. They don’t have anything against Ivory-Bills, and most of the people I talked to claim to have seen the bird in the area at some point in their life. Here is their problem: “If they find that bird here, they’ll turn this place into a national park and kick us out!” I don’t think their fear is totally unfounded. Like most conservation minded people, I’d like to see the Ivory-Bill recover, but it will likely require huge tracts of land where they can remain undisturbed. This would likely mean removing the hunters and their ATV’s. While I don’t have any particular fondness for these activities (ATV’s are particularly annoying and destructive), the locals have been using these lands for generations, and their rights to continue these uses should be respected. After all, the bird has managed to survive there despite the presence of hunters. The larger danger to the birds, and one that could very well be affecting them now, is disgruntled locals shooting Ivory-Bills to keep them from being discovered. I have no doubt that this has already happened.

Like any conservation project, the local people need to be included in the management plan for it to be a real success. I think it would be possible to include hunting as part of the plan with some education about Ivory-Bills. If the Ivory-Bill became a symbol of the preservation of these lands for the continued use of the locals, they would be behind it 100% instead of trying to kill off whatever they feel threatens their hunting lands.



New Crocodile Scratchboard on the Drawing Board
February 20, 2010, 11:39 am
Filed under: Art News, Crocodilians

In my last post you saw my closest approach to abstraction, paintings that are comparatively, a form of relaxation for me. Here is the anal opposite, a large (11×14), highly detailed scratchboard drawing.  I’ve been working on these crocodiles a long time. That is, the drawing has been sitting on my drawing table for a long time.  I do have a lot of scratching time on it, but as my attention span shrinks, the drawing to sitting time ratio has decreased.

The image is two large crocodiles, probably hybrids between Crocodylus porosus (the Saltwater Croc) and C. siamensis (the Siamese Croc), with a Rajah Birdwing Butterfly. I’m working from photos that I took in Thailand, at Uthen Youngaprapakorn’s Samutprakan Crocodile farm.  The crocs were dozing in the the dappled light of trees, with butterflies using them as basking spots.  The butterfly is a species from Borneo, where it could encounter porosus.

I expect this to be my submission to the Society of Animal Artists’ 5oth Anniversary show this year.

In progress: "Crocodile Dreams" 11" x 14" Scratchboard