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Speaker Profile:         John Hare

John Hare

John Hare was the last recruit to join the British Overseas Civil Service as an administrative officer in Northern Nigeria. He spent seven years in remote areas on the Nigerian/Cameroon border. He was seconded after independence to the Nigerian government. He later returned to Africa to work for the United Nations Environment Programme.

In a fascinating presentation explorer John Hare recounts his dramatic expeditions in the pristine wilderness area of the Gashun Gobi and Lop Nur, in the Xinjiang province of China as he searched for the critically endangered wild Bactrian camel. Not only did he discover a major migration route used by camels but he also found two previously unmapped valleys containing naÔve populations of wildlife that had no fear of humans. His expeditions have resulted in the establishment of one of the largest Nature Reserves in the world, the Lop Nur Wild Camel Reserve, in the Xinjiang Province of China.

In a beautifully illustrated presentation John describes the qualities that enabled the camel to survive 43 atmospheric nuclear tests in Xinjiang, a former nuclear test site barred from foreign travellers for almost 50 years. In 1999, the expedition observed 169 camels and also encountered one with a day-old calf, a scene never before recorded.

John mixes his talk with fascinating detail of his expeditions and can, if necessary, relate them to the corporate world. For example, in 1996, Johnís vehicles became marooned on hard, sharp rock salt which stretched interminably into the distance. Their vehicle tyres were being shredded and they were burning oil faster than they were burning petrol. Their engine oil was insufficient to return them to base. There was no possibility of outside help. They were in a sensitive area (ex nuclear test site) without the express approval of the Chinese authorities. A core decision had to be made, whether to press forward into the unknown when a key plan/strategy is put into an unexpectedly high risk situation and could break down. Options are severely limited by one supreme and overriding factor, lack of engine oil. A successful solution to this problem was reached by innovative thinking.

John has made six expeditions to the Mongolia and Chinese Gobi Deserts between 1993 and 2005 and another expedition to the Sahara Desert in 2001/2002.

WILD CAMEL PROTECTION FOUNDATION

The Wild Camel Protection Foundation (WCPF), a UK based charitable foundation with Jane Goodall as its patron, was established in 1997 specifically to protect the critically endangered wild Bactrian camel in its pristine desert environment in the Gobi deserts of China and Mongolia.
Its outstanding achievement is to have raised finances and persuaded the Chinese government to establish a 150,000 square kilometre national Nature Reserve to protect the wild Bactrian camel in Lop Nur, the former nuclear test area of China. The wild Bactrian camel survives in this harsh environment on a salt-water slush that no other mammal can tolerate. In addition, the wild Bactrian camel has survived over 40 atmospheric nuclear tests and current scientific research is showing that it has a base genetic make-up which varies from the domestic Bactrian camel by as much as 3 per cent.

Other achievements of the WCPF have been the organizing of a meeting between the Vice-Ministers of the Environment of the Governments of China and Mongolia, which resulted in the signing of an agreement by both countries to cooperate in wild Bactrian camel protection. In addition, the WCPF is currently involved in establishing a captive wild Bactrian camel breeding programme near the Great Gobi Reserve A, a protected area in Mongolia. This programme had the full backing of the Mongolian government. It is vital as there are only 15 wild Bactrian camels in captivity out of as total of under 800 in the wild.

The WCPF has raised over $250,000 from international trusts and companies and is constantly striving to raise additional finance. In 1999, the National Geographic Society and the Royal Geographical Society financed a WCPF expedition into the Chinese Gobi to survey the wild Bactrian camel population. This resulted in a sighting of 169 wild camels, an enormous achievement.

An environmental, awareness-raising educational programme linked to the new Reserve and Jane Goodall's Roots and Shoots scheme in China and Mongolia has produced awareness-raising booklets both in local languages for schools and adults in both countries and this programme is constantly expanding.

Further details of the work of the WCPF, contact:

John Hare, Founder
The Wild Camel Protection Foundation
School Farm, Benenden, Kent, TN17 4EU England
Tel: 44 (0) 1580 241 132 Fax: 44 (0)1580 240 960
E-mail: harecamel@aol.com web: http://wildcamels.com

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