As you know, I love to draw animals! So I was really happy when BBC's Wildlife Magazine got in touch at the end of last year and asked me to do some illustrations to accompany a feature on conservation.
The essay was about how it's not always best to cordon of huge tracts of land and call them reserves or parks, as often this has seen an increase in poaching and deforestation, due to the lack of funding for the protection needed. Also what of the indigenous people that are forced off of their own land – some statistics show that often these very people are the best at protecting the land that they hold dear.
Obviously it is a really hard topic to discuss and there is no hard and fast answer for all instances, and I didn't want to take anything away from the park rangers who do an amazing job to protect wildlife. For the first illustration, a full plate I decided to do an amazon habitat with a Kayapo tribesman acting as guardian of his piece of jungle, surrounded by relevant wildlife – at the bottom an arapaima which has faced real problems from over fishing, a threat that is still being dealt with through education of the local inhabitants. Next is the quintessential icon of the amazon, the jaguar, and at the top a real success story, the Red Siskin, after a new colony was found after being feared to be on the brink of extinction.
For the second illustration I wanted to show the rangers of the African National Parks, who put their lives on the line every day in defence of wildlife. Although they are doing all they can, they cannot be everywhere at once, and often this can mean that whilst one thing is being protected, others are not, which is why it's so hard to get a definitive solution. I wanted to show this with poachers fires behind the rangers back.
Finally I wanted a bit of lightness so I drew a cute asian elephant, based on some pictures I took in Borneo, although I had to edit it a bit so that it wasn't a pygmy elephant! It featured in the January 2016 issue of Wildlife Magazine.
Here are all the illustrations and some detail shots: