With more than three decades of experience in wildlife conservation management and research, Jason A. Turner, MSc, has become a world renowned lion ecologist. Based in South Africa, Turner is Director of Ecology for the Global White Lion Protection Trust, which he established alongside conservationist Linda Tucker in 2002. Turner, who is also Chairman of the Wilderness Security and Anti-poaching Forum, has led groundbreaking studies on white lions, including the impact of lion predation on South Africa’s large herbivore population and an effort to rewild and study an integrated pride of white and tawny lions in the country’s Greater Timbavati Region.
At this year’s Bioneers Conference, Turner will join Tucker on stage for their presentation, What We Can Learn from South Africa’s Legendary White Lions. The duo will explain how this rare species has helped bring together cutting-edge modern ecology with Indigenous ancestral wisdom to help heal ecosystems and divides of race, tribe, gender and culture, and they’ll also share what these extraordinary creatures can teach us about our own capacity for leadership.
In advance of the 2018 conference, Turner shared with Bioneers a few of the things that are on his mind, from the challenges our planet is currently facing to the top three books he recommends reading.
What he’s most excited for within the next year: “First, collaboration for the 1st time by several other conservation and animal welfare organizations to motivate the South African Government to stop unethical hunting and trade in lion body parts to save lions, and particularly white lions, from going extinct. Second, progressing my Ph.D. and doctoral study on the ecological importance of the white lion as a flagship and capstone animal in the UNESCO declared Kruger to Canyon Biosphere in South Africa.”
His biggest reason to have hope right now: “The level of collaboration by other like-minded organizations, and the integration of different disciplines—science and indigenous knowledge, for example.”
Our biggest challenge to overcome right now: “Stopping the global exploitation of nature, its inhabitants (human and nonhuman; tangible and intangible; fauna and flora) and all that comprises the Earth.”
The number one thing individuals can do to have a big impact on the world in a positive way: “If every individual recognizes that they can make a difference, and do their part to stop the exploitation of the Earth, no matter how seemingly small—like recycling in their kitchen at home or stop buying straws—irrespective of age, career path, or social standing. Every individual has a voice and a right to say how the planet is treated, and collectively we have the ability to effect change.”
The Bioneers 2018 talk he’s most excited to see: Monica Gagliano & Michael Pollan: Plant Intelligence and Human Consciousness – Into the Mystery
The three books he recommends to our audience:
- Carnivore Minds: Who These Fearsome Animals Really Are by G. A. Bradshaw
- Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel by Carl Safina
- Ecological Intelligence: Rediscovering Ourselves in Nature by Ian McCallum