Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New book on wildlife crime.

For the past few days I've been immersed in reading a new book dealing with wildlife crime. The book, WILDLIFE CRIME     the making of an Investigations Officer, written by Dave Dick,  issued by Whittles Publishing,  is an utterly absorbing account of a former colleague's years with the RSPB tackling an unceasing  flow of bird related crime. The book carries a Foreword by Sir John Lister-Kaye OBE ,whose contents aptly introduce and summarise some of the core elements addressed in the book,  particularly why the continuing scourge of raptor persecution on Scottish Estates continues unabated.


I have neither the temerity, nor arrogance, to attempt a review of a book I enjoyed from end to end. A simple aspect emerges!  It is an essential read for anyone interested in the wildlife crimes that are seemingly endemic within our countryside. Following your finishing this book, your repugnance of the crimes it details, and the people who are responsible, will have increased many fold. This, I am sure, will bring about an increased  resolve to bring about essential change and an end to these wholly selfish and unnecessary crimes. As such one of the main objectives of the book will have been realised. The wide variety of casework illustrates but a small proportion of what is happening in our countryside. Thankfully, the only thing which appears to have reduced over the years is egg collecting, although individuals still currently and persistently involved in the practice are probably the most "professionally" motivated. Several of the past "characters"   were resident in the RSPB English region I ran and it was a cause of permanent embarrassment and frustration that their annual pilgrimages northwards to Scotland each Spring comprised the very threats that Dave Dick and his colleagues had to confront. However, the dedication, resolve and expertise they met with north of the border ensured many of them over the years were brought to justice.

The most saddening aspects of the book deal with the persecution of raptors which takes place on Scottish sporting estates. The level of self-dedication and determination which Dave Dick applied to this problem is exemplary in the extreme and the reputation he gained from his peers in pursuing such issues is more than well deserved. There are many more aspects to Dave Dick.....his music, his humour, his friendship,  all of which come through in the book. Previous to his being involved in investigations work he had actually worked on Islay. His descriptions of the "social scene" in the 1980's are absorbing and suggest some things have changed little, and the story of his " penultimate departure" is a story I wasn't aware of , but which is an absolute hoot!!! I've no intention of revealing any more details contained within the book as it would detract from what is pure enjoyment throughout until the very last page. Simply buy it and enjoy! However use its core messages to underscore a willingness to act further and bring about change!

As I finished the book this morning the first of two small earthquakes were registered on Islay. Quite literally  earth shattering events accompanying the equally similar revelations contained within the endless examples of mindless exploitation or persecution of wildlife in its most deplorable forms. At the risk of using confusing metaphors with Earth damaging effects,  may I express the hope that the case that Dave Dick so skilfully sets out in his book brings about a veritable tsunami wave of public outrage that  finally ends the ridiculous  situation that confronts our native wildlife. Such would be an apt reward for many years of selfless effort attempting to secure change and improvement for our wildlife.


  1. Have just finished reading this book and agree wholeheartedly with the above comments. It should be essential reading for anybody interested in Wildlife.

  2. Many thanks Stewart...but also to John Armitage for his fullsome praise..I hope he recognises himself in the praise I tried to give to the early generations of varied background managers, who helped transform the RSPB into the massive organisation it now is...capable of doing great things when it focusses on the real conservation issues...