Dawkins Award Lecture 2018

Friday 18 May

A recording of Professor Craig Packer’s talk ‘The Conservation Conundrum in Africa: Why Can’t Wildlife Pay its Way’, which he gave at the Dawkins Award Lecture 2018, is now available. 

The Dawkins Award Lecture is given by the winner of the Dawkins Prize, instigated by the late John Dawkins (Balliol 1933) on behalf of the Dawkins family, ten of whom have been at Balliol; John Dawkins was the father of Professor Richard Dawkins (Balliol 1959). The prize, awarded biennially, recognises the work of those who have distinguished themselves by outstanding research into ecology and behaviour of animals whose welfare may be endangered by human activity.  

Craig Packer is Professor of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota, Director of the Lion Research Centre and an affiliate of Oxford’s WildCRU. Across Africa, the continent’s largest mammals have suffered catastrophic population declines over the past 50–100 years. Professor Packer argues that these losses have largely stemmed from the assumption that wildlife must pay its own way. Wildlife managers have traditionally sought to counter conservation costs with tourism revenues. But tourist income has been inadequate to maintain healthy populations of iconic species, and the shortfall will only worsen as Africa’s human population grows. Despite this, there have been recent successes: none has relied on the profit motive, but on a combination of ecophilanthropy, enlightened land-tenure policies and traditional values.

While he was in Oxford, Professor Packer gave two talks: one was the Dawkins Award Lecture 2018 on 27 April at the Oxford Museum of Natural History, and the second a plenary lecture at WildCru Conservation Colloquium 2018 which was recorded: