Chris Packham – Natural history presenter and a lover of wildlife. Two things that clearly go hand in hand, or so you would think?
Well according to the Countryside Alliance, this is far from the case with Packham now on the receiving end of insults from those who profess to “love” and “manage” our countryside.
Chris’ unique presenting style has seen him become the face of Springwatch, a position he has held since 2009. However, he first became a familiar face in the 80s working on the popular children’s programme, The Really Wild Show. His list of duties extend from vice presidency of the RSPB and The Wildlife Trusts, to the top dog at the Bat Conservation Trust as well as the Hawk Conservancy Trust – this is clearly someone who holds wildlife and the countryside close to his heart.
It has now surfaced that Chris, like myself, wears his heart on his sleeve. He has always been a vocal wildlife enthusiast and as such I would expect nothing less from someone so passionate about something which is threatened on a daily basis.
With this in mind it is not a slap in the face that Chris wants to do what he can to protect wildlife. And I for one completely agree with what he said in his latest column in the BBC wildlife magazine- controversial or not. And let’s face it, the man in question is no stranger to controversy. (Previous comments include letting the panda die out with dignity… Another story).
Packham said that conservation groups were “hamstrung by outdated liaisons with the ‘nasty brigade’ and can’t risk upsetting old friends” in the rural and shooting communities. He expressed his view on large conservational organisations remaining tight lipped on the topic of fox hunting, the recent badger cull and the plight of hen harriers.
One organisation took Packham’s comments as if he had just committed a series of murders. Meet the Countryside Alliance. They claim to be the voice of the rural community (and by rural, they mean “you must enjoy fox and game hunting”). Any decent human being would detest at the thought of an innocent animal torn to shreds, especially in the name of “fun”. Chris’ monthly article in the BBC Wildlife Magazine stressed the importance of doing all we can to stop illegal wildlife killing. Partnerships between larger organisations and the “middle class let’s tear foxes apart club” have to end. We can’t keep keeling over to this old fashioned, high end snobbery. Chris’ use of the words “brutalist thugs, liars and frauds” from a previous article spring to mind.
I’m also very glad that the magazine (which is obliged to follow BBC editorial guidelines) defended Mr Packham. “The column was highlighting criminal activity. It was not controversial. He was saying that we all need to do more on the illegal killing of wildlife and that no one should be standing by when criminal acts [were taking place]. Packham was doing something of real value,” said editor Matt Swaine. And I couldn’t agree more. More needs to be done.
The demand for Packham’s head (or at least his job) by the Countryside Alliance shows that they want him out of the picture. “Countryside” Alliance wanting a wildlife enthusiast out of work? A persistent nuisance perhaps? Maybe, but it’s needed. But when it comes to the Countryside Alliance a common phrase “The rich stay rich” comes to mind. That’s not to be said about the rich and diverse wildlife though.
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