“Unfortunately the Pere David deer and the white-tailed gnu are not the only creatures in the world that are nearly extinct. The list of creatures that have vanished altogether, and others that have almost vanished, is a long and melancholy one. As man has spread across the earth he has wrought the most terrible havoc among the wild life by shooting, trapping, cutting and burning forest, and by the callous and stupid introduction of enemies where there were no enemies before. …All over the world the wild fauna has been whittled down steadily and remorselessly, and many lovely and interesting animals have been so reduced in number that, without protection and help, they can never re-establish themselves. If they cannot find sanctuary where they live and breed undisturbed, their numbers will dwindle until they join the dodo, the quagga, and the great auk on the long list of extinct creatures.
As mankind increases year by year, and as he spreads farther over the globe burning and destroying, it is some small comfort to know that there are certain private individuals and some institutions who consider that the work of trying to save and give sanctuary to these harried animals is of some importance. It is important work for many reasons, but perhaps the best of them is this: man, for all his genius, cannot create a species, nor can he recreate one he has destroyed. …So, until we consider animal life to be worthy of the consideration and reverence we bestow upon old books and pictures and historic monuments, there will always be the animal refugee living a precarious life on the edge of extermination, dependent for existence on the charity of a few human beings.”
This is an insert from Gerald Durrell’s 1958 book, entitled ‘Encounters with Animals.’ Although we have progressed a great deal in our global conservation initiatives since 1958, the issues and concerns described by Durrell, still remain relevant and are a disappointment for many species now on the brink of extinction.