John Frederick Walker

JFW in Central Booking Exhibition Nov. 7- Jan. 12

Posted in art news by JFW on October 23, 2013

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I’m one of the participating artists in Central Booking’s upcoming “The Medicine Show,” which opens with a reception on November 7, 6-8 pm at 21 Ludlow Street, New York, NY 10002.  The exhibition runs through January 14, 2014, Thursday-Sunday, 12-6pm.

 

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John Frederick Walker: Flayed Book (Red Man), 2011 / mixed media and collage on book covers, 9.5 x 15 x 1.25 inches

  

How China Could Decide the Future of Africa’s Elephants

Posted in conservation news, elephant and ivory news, ivory news by JFW on September 21, 2013

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My most recent piece on the poaching crisis, “How China Could Decide the Future of Africa’s Elephants,” argues for regulated legal ivory trade as a means to engage with China in the elimination of trafficking in tusks.  It’s just been posted on the National Geographic News Watch blog, A Voice for Elephants. Here’s the link.

JFW discusses rhino horn trade on HuffPost live

Posted in conservation news by JFW on July 26, 2013

durer-rhinoceros-1515I appeared on HuffPost Live’s “GreenBrief with Josh Zepps” program to discuss South Africa’s decision to seek permission from CITES to sell some of its rhino horn stockpile.  The country hopes to undermine the black market in this product, valued for its presumed medicinal value in Asia, and also to raise funds to conserve this animal, now plagued by poaching.  South Africa is home to 73 per cent of the world’s rhinos, including over 90% of white rhinos, which it brought back from near extinction last century.

Click here.

The rhino horn segment starts at 17:18 and runs to 26:08.

 

Rethinking Ivory: Why Trade in Tusks Won’t Go Away

Posted in conservation news, elephant and ivory news, ivory news by JFW on June 10, 2013

Tsavo West Ivory BurnMy latest article, “Rethinking Ivory,” appears in the Summer 2013 issue of World Policy Journal, and is now available online. It challenges the conventional wisdom on the ivory trade and argues that a well-regulated commerce in tusks could offer a realistic way forward for elephant conservation.

The link is here:

JFW exhibition at Hotchkiss Library of Sharon June 1 – July 31

Posted in art news by JFW on May 31, 2013

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Lost Codex, 2012, 15x23x2 inches, altered book / mixed media

I have an upcoming exhibition at the Hotchkiss Library of Sharon, 10 Upper Main Street, Connecticut from June 1- July 31st.  I’ve taken advantage of the large stairwell and reception rooms of this 1893 Romanesque Revival building to display a wide range of works, including new large-format pieces. For further information call 860-364-5041.

 

JFW Center for Book Arts Interview

Posted in art news, elephant and ivory news, giant sable news by JFW on May 3, 2013

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I was interviewed by Kate Burns for the Center for Book Arts’s blog as part of its Friday Insight series.  The interview can be found here, along with images of recent work.

Diamond Mining Threatens Giant Sable Antelope

Posted in Uncategorized by JFW on March 13, 2013

The magnificent giant sable antelope, a critically endangered sable subspecies that happens to be the national animal of Angola, needs all the help it can get to survive. Only about a  hundred of these creatures are left.  Diamond mining in its long-isolated habitat could be the death-knell for this walking emblem.

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Colin McClelland, reporter for Bloomberg News in Angola, has broken a story on state gem company Endiama EP, which had drawn up plans to expand diamond mining into the Luando Reserve, critical environment for the giant sable.  McClelland interviewed Endiama spokesman Antonio Freitas, who stated that “Endiama’s main goal is to protect the palanca negra [giant sable].”

Angolan biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto, who has rescued a small number of the animals for a captive breeding program nearby, says he’s encouraged by Endiama’s response, but warns that “a concession in that location must be blocked,” as it would result in roads, bridges, and camps being built in what is now undisturbed giant sable habitat.

Click here for a link to this story.

JFW ivory interview on Austrian Broadcasting Corporation

Posted in elephant and ivory news, ivory news by JFW on March 13, 2013

Elephant poaching has been much discussed recently in global media, and at the just-concluding CITES conference in Bangkok, for good reason — elephant killings are at an alarming high.

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I was interviewed by Chris Cummins on Austrian Broadcasting Corporation’s radio station FM4, which has an English language news magazine program called “Reality Check.”  The piece is “The Ivory Wars,” and I’m included in the 15 minute podcast (starting at 12:30 minutes into it), and also in the story  that accompanied it. Click here for the podcast/story, which covers the crisis, and what might be done to address it.

Giant Sable Genetic Research Critical to its Conservation

Posted in conservation news, giant sable news by JFW on November 22, 2012

Pedro Vaz Pinto at the American Museum of Natural History’s Giant Sable diorama

I had the privilege of traveling with Angolan biologist Pedro Vaz Pinto last week as he visited natural history museums from Washington, DC to Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Stops included the Smithsonian, the American Museum of Natural History, Yale Peabody, and Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology.  His mission? To obtain snippets of skin and tissue from ultra-scarce specimens of Hippotragus niger variani, the giant sable antelope of Angola.

Handsome and sleek as show ponies, the common sable subspecies seen in Botswana, Zambia, and South Africa makes visitors on game-viewing safaris reach for their cameras. But they pale in comparison to the majestic giant sable, found only in Angola, and an icon there. The coal-black males, which carry scimitar-shaped horns over five feet in length, are featured on the country’s currency and the tailfins of its airline. Even the national soccer team is named after the antelopes—which also happen to be one of Africa’s most endangered mammals.

Vaz Pinto estimates that only a hundred of these walking emblems remain.

On a daringly ambitious 2009 expedition into the remote Luando Reserve, Vaz Pinto managed to pull off a conservation coup and locate the remnants of a population long feared a casualty of Angola’s 27-year-long civil war.  He went on to dart and relocate a giant sable bull and nine females to start a captive breeding program in nearby Cangandala National Park. (Read my two-part Africa Geographic article on the expedition, “Antelope From the Ashes”– click here for Part I  and Part II).  So far, the protected herd there, bolstered in number by subsequent translocations, has produced five calves this year.

But Vaz Pinto is all too aware that field work, not matter how impressive, isn’t enough to ensure the giant sable’s future. He’s in a race against time, against bush-meat poaching, against inadequate resources for the nation’s parks and reserves. For the past decade, he’s cajoled officials and the military for support, and local oil companies, like Exxon-Mobil, for funds.

Now he needs more attention from the zoological community. In the past, the taxonomic status of Angola’s legendary antelope was clouded by doubts that it was anything more than a large local variant of the unendangered common sable.

Recent DNA research has confirmed the giant sable’s subspecies status, but Vaz Pinto wants to go a step further. He’s doing doctoral research in the CIBIO lab at Oporto University, Portugal. “We expect to sequence the entire giant sable genome next year,” he says. Such detailed genetic information would provide critical help in guiding the captive breeding program currently underway.  And it also would underscore the giant sable’s stature, hopefully spurring an international push for the conservation it desperately needs.

Vaz Pinto needs samples of historic giant sable material he can analyze. But requests for even tiny snips of skin aren’t treated lightly by museums. It amounts to destructive sampling of a limited supply of specimens. Fortunately, the conservation implications of his ground-breaking laboratory research seem to be overcoming institutional scruples. So far, he’s receiving strong encouragement for his next achievement on behalf of Angola’s national animal.

The Leopard in the Vineyard

Posted in conservation news by JFW on September 13, 2012

My feature article, “The Leopard in the Vineyard,”  has just been published in the September issue of Africa Geographic.  I was pleased to have eight pages for an overview of the South African wine industry’s efforts to balance agriculture and wildlife conservation.

You can access the article here.