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Politics and Nature - Should it be separated?

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In the 21st Century we are constantly reminded of the issues of politics. Governments are at loggerheads with each other, trying to protect their interests which, sometimes, even extend to the population of their country. In this century we’ve also been reminded of how fragile our place in this world is by the most minute of “creatures”. Covid has gripped the world and continues to do so with many countries struggling to manage and protect their population. The pandemic has levelled the playing field with everyone being susceptible. Needless to say, we continue to see the effects, and it has highlighted the divide between wealthy and poor even more so.

The question I want you to think about is how to manage nature proactively outside of politics, beliefs, idealism, and fundamentalism. We all have our own beliefs, we all judge (and this is something that some might find hard to accept) people, countries, systems of politics and religion. I’ve done it, and I’m sure you’ve done it.

The important issue here is that nature doesn’t. It continues to move along the timeline of life and death. It’s unstoppable and has laws that are sometimes very clinical in appearance. Here is the disconnect between humans and nature. We’ve become “intelligent”, we have built social and political systems that we allow to rule our very nature instead of adhering to the principles of it. Now, this isn’t a call to arms to drop everything, smash the TV, and forsake technology - although I know some that know me would like me to do less of “tech” - but it is a question that needs to be elevated to the highest level.

While politicians debate, bicker, and postulate, nature continues to struggle. Even though we have had to come to terms with a virus that has crippled financial systems, killed millions of people, and inserted itself into our everyday lives. We have problems that are far greater than this over the horizon, and also right up in our faces. It is worth remembering that as political organisations bicker to try to put pressure on each other, the animals suffer. An example would be the results of sanctions by the US on Iran. Vendors that make equipment for monitoring or helping with wildlife cannot be sold to anyone in Iran. The balance of this may well be that the technology could be used elsewhere, and that was the intention of the sanction. But, the evidence shows that wildlife suffers because of this. I will again state that I'm only focusing on this as an example of issues that happen all over theworld. It just happens to be releveant due to the impending extinction of one of the five sub-species of Cheetah in the world today.

I write this because of a change in situation in one country that may lead to the extinction of a species of animal that we all know and that I am very fond of. Before going any further I wish to state that I am not criticising or pilloring anyone right now.

In the same way that some countries have the requirement that Church and State be separate, and in others they are weaved together, nature and politics should be completely separated from each other. When there is an issue of nature, this should be understood to transcend any political situations. For this to happen, something I grant you may seem impossible, everyone would need to set aside issues they have with countries or actions on behalf of countries, allow free movement of non-political persons, mandate protection while in their country, and allow them to work on behalf of nature.

An almost impossible thought. There will still be political establishments that will view this sort of approach either as an opportunity or threat. Trying to hide their “people” to gain, and cause distrust in the other party.

In Iran, right now, the Asiatic Cheetah is on the verge of extinction. Numbers have been difficult to assess because of Iran’s political situation. Countries view Iran as a threat, and Iran view those countries as a threat. The scientists and researchers that wish to assess how bad the situation is with this species are under huge pressure to either stay away or risk themselves in the process of trying to help.

But what if you could click your fingers and remove that threat from both sides of the argument? What if both sides could set aside their issues, or move them to a separate conversation so that those who only wish to preserve or improve nature could do just that?

Recently there were as little as fifty Asiatic Cheetahs left in the wild. I now know that number is too high. In fact, numbers could be as low as twenty. However, to validate the numbers you need people on the ground, and that is a huge challenge.

This blog is not about pointing fingers, it is a plea. I was always brought up to try and see the other person’s point of view, to try not to make a judgement based on only what I know or have been exposed to by my political system, and be open to all views before forming an opinion. I read in the papers that the level of threat has gone up due to a change in political leaders in Iran. I’m sure that from the Iranian viewpoint threats to their country are equally great. I know that politics in the world is important for all of us, it describes the level of safety we all feel in our own lives, but I’m sitting here wanting to ask all parties, Iran, Israel, USA, Russia, China, and quite simply everyone else. Can we park the politics in a different place so that people who can demonstrate they are just about nature, fight the good fight, and save the species?

The Asiatic Cheetah is one of many species that will or may be on the verge of becoming extinct. At least we have an awareness of what’s happening here, however there will be other species that will enter history books without anyone being able to do anything about it, because they can’t get access safely.

We have seen amazing moments of compassion because Covid has brought people together. Made us realise that we don’t make the rules in nature. Think what we could do if we could make rules that work with nature?



Award winning cameraman and photographer, Simon is available worldwide for conservation projects. Please contact him to discuss your requirements.

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