So, last week I went up to London to the UK offices of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to interview David Cowdrey, Head of Policy and Campaigns
I’d not met David before but I had a fair idea what to expect. How? Well, one review of him on LinkedIn begins by saying that “David’s boundless enthusiasm and creativity is only matched by his expertise and professionalism” and in an email exchange when we were setting up the pocast IFAW’s press officer Frankie Ion wrote that “David has been working across the animal welfare and environmental sectors for nearly 25 years and is incredibly enthusiastic and passionate about the issues facing animals and the environment today”.
Two descriptions that are spot on. David both knows his stuff and is absolutely, genuinely in conservation because he absolutely, genuinely loves conservation and wildlife. And talking to him after his years at organisations like WWF, the RSPCA, and for the last three years IFAW, years spent working on campaigns like a UK Ivory Import Ban, on protecting everything from whales to Siberian Tigers, you discover stories and ideas and – yes, sheer enthusiasm – bubbling out of him like releasing the cork on a bottle of champagne.
David and I met at IFAW’s London offices, which are perched high above the River Thames in Vauxhall (and spookily right next to the palatial postmodern SIS/MI6 building, which bristles with antennae and probably has a full copy of everything we spoke about they might let me have if I need it and ask them nicely).
I’d done my research and written a set of questions and a few bullet points I wanted to cover. The role, for instance, that charities like IFAW have in a world where global problems like plastics, biodiversity loss, and climate change demand global action and for everyone to be pulling in the same direction (are coalitions the only workable solution to the planet’s ills in other words); just how do charities manage to differentiate themselves from each other; David’s work tackling wildlife crime (he’s vice-chair of the Wildlife and Countryside Link’s Wildlife Crime Working Group); and whether young people will still support charities in the light of movements like Climate Strike) – but when the guest is so eloquent and incredibly enthusiastic and passionate, sometimes as an interviewer you just need to sit back and listen instead…
We talked for about two and a half hours, but not all of it with the recorder switched on. Which is perhaps a shame as David told some great stories including being chased through the bush by a semi-tranquilised Rhino and being hugged by a Panda cub, but I make it a rule never to record ‘off air’ banter and introductory chat – but what I got is good and judging by how the edit is going so far the podcast will begin with David talking about one of his great loves (elephants) and explaining how he helped pilot one of the toughest bans on ivory sales in the world through the UK parliament – the Ivory Act 2018 …
And as soon as it’s uploaded I’ll post a link…and now here it is David Cowdrey, IFAW UK