My name is John Fanshawe, and I live in Cornwall in a ramshackle old house in Boscastle that overlooks the Atlantic.
For two days a week, I work remotely for BirdLife on issues surrounding birds, culture and society, and divide the rest of my time between the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, and trying to do my own stuff, walking the cliffs and fields with binoculars and a camera, writing, drawing, reading, and so on. Where I live now is where I grew up, so I have come full circle and landed back in a landscape I have known all my life. My wife, Clare, is a conservation adviser for Natural England, and we have two children, Holly, who is at college studying for the IB and hoping to be a marine biologist, and Jack, who is in Manchester, reading medicine.
I studied law, but after a three month stint in the Peruvian Andes as a student, I changed track, and found my way into conservation; initially as an intern for UNEP, then as research assistant for the long-running Serengeti Lion Project. After a couple of years in Tanzania, I returned to work for the Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge, and since then for BirdLife. I joined as an Africa Programme officer, and then worked with the GEF agencies, UNEP, UNDP, and the World Bank, and latterly as head of the policy and advocacy team. I have an MA in art and environment from Falmouth, and undertook a DPhil on the impact of logging on Kenyan forest birds.
If I was to try and describe my current work in three words, I would chose local to global, since my work has revolved around trying to link grassroots approaches to conservation and development with the global processes that influence them.
All of this returns to experience in East Africa, particularly in and around Kenya’s Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. I first visited as a birder, then as a researcher, and finally was seconded to the Kenya Wildlife Service to support an integrated conservation and development project. During this time, I also worked on a Field Guide to the birds of East Africa, and this evolution from an avicentric perspective to one rooted in local development lies at the heart of my growing interest in ethno-biology.
With my wife, Clare, I worked on aspects of subsistence mammal hunting in Sokoke, and collaborated closely with my friends, David Ngala and Martin Walsh, towards an as-yet unpublished Mijikenda ethno-ornithology. Long conversations with David, and other Giriama friends, had a profound impact on my career as a conservationist, and have led to developing the Ethno-ornithology World Archive (EWA). EWA brings me to Bhutan, and the ISE meeting, and with colleagues in Oxford, at SOAS, and the publisher, Lynx Edicions in Spain, we are working to create a framework to allow us to support all aspects of ethno-ornithology. We are hoping to find innovative ways of integrating the work of ethno-biologists into the conservation programmes of 120 BirdLife Partner NGOs, particularly within networks of Local Conservation Groups.