Heal Our Planet Earth
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Educational Outreach:
Secondary and Universities

Educational Outreach: Secondary (High) Schools and Universities
Conservationist looks for others to continue the fight

2001-02-01
Richmond News
Conservationist looks for others to continue the fight
By Darah Hansen dhansen@richmond-news.com 

Anthony Marr is on a mission. Heís out to create a whole new generation of people who care about the fate of tigers and grizzly bears.

"Thatís exactly why Iím going to the schools," said Marr, a Vancouver resident. "There are too few wildlife conservationists in my generation."

In the past few months, Marr, a vocal and sometimes controversial conservationist, has visited dozens of high schools across the Lower Mainland in an effort to raise awareness around and interest in endangered wildlife. Included in his lecture circuit recently have been two Richmond high schools, London secondary and Hugh Boyd.

With a slide show of his recent trips to India where he works with the environmental organization HOPE (Heal Our Planet Earth), Marr opens the presentation by exploring the dire situation of the Bengal tiger ó whose numbers have been decimated by trophy hunters and poachers.

"At the turn of the century there were upwards of 80,000 tigers in India," Marr said. "By 1972, there were about 1,800."

Marr said efforts on the part of the Indian government to ban the tiger hunt for the past 30 years may prove to be "too little, too late."

Poaching ó "The West wants their pelts. The East wants their bones and organs," he said ó starvation, habitat destruction through deforestation and cattle overgrazing have left little hope for the tigersí future.

Already three subspecies of the tiger are extinct. Another subspecies, the South China tiger, counts less than 400 animals to its numbers. Of the four subspecies left, the population remains weak at about 4,000 animals.

Marr doesnít spare the young students the reality of the situation.

"The message is," he said, "that the wildlife situation is getting more and more urgent."

One of the provinceís loudest voices in the move to ban grizzly bear trophy hunting, Marr also ties his presentation into the local situation.

In B.C., he said, government officials count 10,000 grizzlies in the population, while independent biologists put the figure much lower at between 4,000 and 7,000.

He wants Canada to ban the bear hunt now ó "so the grizzly doesnít go the same way as the tiger."

"The point is," he said, "if India banned the tiger hunt at 10,000, their situation would be much more savable."

Marr said heís been thrilled at the response he gets from the majority of students who hear his lecture.

"I get an excellent response," he said.

He estimates that one out of every 100 students is encouraged enough to take action on the issue by joining an environmental group or starting one up in their own school.

Those are the students Marr hopes will go on to become professional conservationists some day, taking over the work from where he and his colleagues have left off.

"Thatís the only solution in my mind," he said. "Creating new wildlife conservationists to take over from us."
 

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