The International League of Conservation Writers is a forum to bring writers together from around the world who are writing to promote wilderness, nature, conservation, or using other means to protect and restore the natural areas, habitats, animals, and plants of our planet. ILCW will present periodic writing awards to authors who excel in this field.

International League of Conservation Writers

Writing to inspire the love of nature and a passion for its protection.




November 12 — 9, 2014

IUCN World Parks Congress

Sydney, Australia


November 30 — December 4, 2014
Long-eared Owl Winter Tour, Serbia

ILCW member David Lindo (UK) announces tour. See more Long-eared Owls than you can shake a stick at this winter. Join David on a tour that will literally blow your socks off. 100s of owls on every day!



February 2-14, 2015.

ILCW Founding Fellow Offers a Serengeti Photo Workshop

Boyd Norton is once again leading a photo tour to the Serengeti ecosystem,

This is Boyd’s 30th year of travel there, leading photo tours and working on book and magazine assignments. For ILCW members who would like to sharpen their photographic and video skills, this is a good opportunity in one of the world’s premiere wildlife environments. It’s also a chance to gather material for future articles about the battle to save the Serengeti ecosystem from destructive developments proposed in recent years. As co-founder of Serengeti Watch, Boyd has led the fight to halt a planned commercial highway across Serengeti National Park. A partial victory was announced recently when the East Africa Court of Justice ruled against the Tanzanian government’s plan for the highway. Other threats remain.

Boyd’s photo trip will include visits to the famed Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park using deluxe permanent tented camps. “This is total immersion in the photography and natural history of one of the last great wildlife places on earth. We don’t rush from place to place. Instead, there’s time to observe and absorb the wonder of it all.”

The trip is timed to coincide with the calving season that takes place in the eastern short grass plains of Serengeti. Over 2 million wildebeest and zebras congregate here in the greatest land mammal migration on earth. See Boyd’s photo gallery of the Serengeti ecosystem here.

The most recent of Boyd’s 16 published books is entitled Serengeti: The Eternal Beginning and has received high praise from Jane Goodall and Richard Engel of NBC News. The book was a finalist in the 2012 Colorado Book Awards.

Complete itinerary and photos here. Further information and registration is here. The trip is limited to 14 participants.

And take a look at this video of a friendly cheetah that visited Boyd on his 2014 trip (he says this has happened from time to time in past years).

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The war on poaching: shoot to kill alternatives

By ILCW member Michael Schwartz (USA)

Previously published by Africa Geographic

I am responding to Anton Crone’s piece, “So you want to start a rhino war?”. In it, he cites several examples of compelling evidence against the idea of using of paramilitary units to combat poaching with particular emphasis on the shoot to kill policy being considered in South Africa. I would like to offer two examples of shoot to kill alternatives that underscore the importance of his argument.

I’ll preface by saying that this is a critical observation of African poachers, not the demand in Asia, which though related and extremely important to tackle, is an issue requiring a different approach as Crone highlighted.

First, while true that the killing of endangered species is endemic throughout the continent, and backed by the increased rhino horn and elephant tusk demand, it remains important to examine poachers under more regionally objective lenses. Specifically, while elephant and rhino killing in portions of East Africa is largely attributed to terrorist organisations and rebel groups as referenced in the above mentioned commentary, South Africa’s crisis often comes at the hands of a different type of poacher. Yet African poachers are still lumped together by the public with cutting adjectives like “heartless” and “evil.” As adamantly opposed as I am to the slaughter of Africa’s wildlife, this is simply not true and we must be careful when we use this language. Doing so will only lead to simplified solutions, which will not work on a continent so vast and complex.

Those who can afford leisure are those able to enjoy its benefits. Those unable to experience that lifestyle typically lack the means to do so. This is arguably one of the biggest socioeconomic divides between many African people and the Western world, the latter of which are able to use disposable income to experience the aesthetic qualities of wilderness and wildlife. To quote Zimbabwean author Alexandra Fuller, “How you see a country depends on whether you are driving through it, or live in it. How you see a country depends on whether or not you can leave it, if you have to.”

With that in mind, local perspective is understandably different than the Western one. While taking care not to oversimplify the issue myself, poachers who carry out the killings are oftentimes impoverished men simply trying make a better living and feed their families. It should be no surprise then, that when faced with the choice between working for almost nothing or being financed significantly more by shadowy figures to bring down an elephant, they choose the latter. And before imposing judgment on that decision, ask yourself this hard question. Would you do the same if you were in their position? As much as my heart tells me I couldn’t, my head says otherwise.

Poverty in Africa is as much a problem as poaching, and a significant contributing factor. Working to end both problems requires multiple solutions, especially when considering the high-level corruption that fuels it. And like poaching, solutions to poverty must vary depending on location. While anti-poaching patrols may always be a necessity, they will not last if additional options aren’t added to the equation. It remains vital then, to take on the harder but infinitely more rewarding challenge of working to end poverty in Africa. There would be a tremendous blow inflicted on wildlife poaching if that could somehow be achieved.

Second, I’ve heard it stated that it takes a criminal to catch a criminal. The same applies with the crime of poaching. Clearly there are extenuating circumstances which may sometimes warrant the killing of poachers – Al-Shabaab and the Lord’s Resistance Army are two examples I can think of. But if we truly value life as we do with animals, would it not be a better alternative to educate, sensitise, rehabilitate and train poachers who are caught to take up the mantle of conservation? While this may not be a resolution for connected kingpins or dealers at the top of the criminal food chain, there remains a clear difference between fighting poachers and fighting poaching. Rehabilitated poachers are far more adept at understanding what it takes to tackle poaching than soldiers. They have proven better at tracking and direct response time than military units, which is critical in the field. As such, the phrase “the only good poacher is a dead poacher” really doesn’t apply.

Consider that when a government fails to support its local population, it typically loses the support. The same will happen if the only response to poaching is to fight with poachers. I cannot claim these two methods to be full-proof, nor are they easy to implement. But history has proven time and again the statistically high rates of recidivism for poachers who are jailed, further hostility between local populations and conservationists when public relations campaign slogans include declaring a war and increased wildlife killing when all dialogue is completely severed.

And if that isn’t convincing enough, think about it this way. Aside from their money, which speaks for itself, if there’s one thing the Chinese have gotten right, it’s that they know the art of engaging in conversation with others when they want to achieve an objective. Ironically, we may have to take a page from their playbook if we wish to do the same.

See more


Neonicotinoids: The New DDT

By ILCW member Stephen Leahy (Canada)

Scientists have linked both the collapse of bee populations

and the stunning decline in bird and bat numbers

to a new generation of insecticides called neonicotinoids.

It gets worse: these widely-used nerve poisons

are also considered the main cause of a general collapse

of insect life since the mid 1990s. Bug-spattered windshields

have become rare where they were once common

in North America and Europe.

Read more


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Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya has posted their latest Newsletter. Click here to read.


Oceans 8 Films by ILCW member Jon Bowermaster (USA)

See this new website for Oceans 8 Films here.

His film Antarctica 3D: On The Edge will be premiering at Woodstock Film Festival and the Blue Ocean Film Festival takes place November 3 to 9.

See his film trailer SoLa, Louisiana Water Stories.

He and his crew were finishing a film in the area when the BP/Deepwater Horizon exploded in 2010 and sank sending 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. They had been working on the film since 2008 which had predicted that it was only a matter of time before corruption, lax regulations, and an over empowered oil industry would result in sizable pollution. Bowermaster’s film captured a way of life pre-spill that many believe will never return.


First impressions from the
European Wilderness Days

The European Wilderness Days held Oct 1- 4 in National park Hohe Tauern, Austria were a huge success. Great presentations from 55 wilderness advocates from 22 countries including Australia and the USA, excellent regional food, a great conference center and two real exciting trips to the Untersulzbach Wilderness Area and the Gamsspitzl (2888m) right in the middle of Austria´s last glaciers were the ingredients read more.


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