NPR’s All Things Considered ran their story on my friend David Bamberger yesterday. They've provided a nice page to go along with it containing what I presume is the text of the story, photos, and a link to the audio. I haven't had a chance to listen, yet (I’m operating on a weird schedule), but I encourage anyone so much as curious to have a look/listen.
It's a shame that it can be considered “unlikely” for a rancher to be an environmentalist. Like farmers, their livelihood is tied directly to the long-term health of the land they work, so they should be some of the most practically skilled environmentalists there are. Unfortunately, like Wade Goodwyn (author of the NPR piece), I have the same impression – that ranchers (and farmers) are, overall, unlikely to also be environmentalists. The phenomenon of farmers working their land until it’s no long viable and then moving on to destroy new land is well recorded. Such farming is more akin to mining than any other industry. Ranchers have acquired a similar reputation. There are exceptions, of course. David’s a prominent example of one. And there are probably quite a few others who are similarly skilled, but less adept at publicizing their efforts than he. (David is uniquely skilled in public relations.) But my impression remains that they are in the minority.
I’d be interested to hear the thoughts and experiences of farmers and ranchers, or people with a background in the same, on this matter. Please leave a comment.
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By the way, anyone wanting a better look at the chiroptorium or the Scimitar-Horned Oryx can find some photos of them on this blog. These include a spherical panorama of the chiroptorium’s main chamber that I shot while standing about a foot deep in bat guano and flesh-eating beetles – an interesting experience, and, as visits inside the chiroptorium are almost never permitted (so as not to disturb either the bats, or the research that's going on there), this may be the only way to get a good look at what it's like in there. There are also pictures of the Scimitar-Horned Oryx from an afternoon I spent crawling through the grass on my belly in the large pasture which is home to the females and juveniles.
Among my panoramas is a view of one of the Oryx’s secondary pastures. Prints of this panorama have been shown at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the New World Deli, and (currently) at the Johnson City public library. That 6' X 22" canvas is, by the way, available for purchase. If you buy it from the library, I’ve agreed to use the proceeds to make the library a print of it for their permanent collection.