‘It’s very easy to save a species’: how Carl Jones rescued more endangered animals than anyone else

Without Jones, the world might have lost the Mauritius kestrel, the pink pigeon, the echo parakeet and more – but the biologist’s methods are controversial


 ‘You’ve got to start with solutions, otherwise you do nothing’ … Jones at home in Carmarthenshire, Wales. Photograph: Richard Jones for the Guardian

Jones challenges the classic conservation wisdom that we must first precisely understand the reasons for a species’ decline and then restore its habitat. Instead, he argues that scientists must tweak the limiting factors on a species’ population – food, nesting sites, competition, predation, disease – with practical fieldwork.

“If there’s a shortage of food, you start feeding. If there’s a shortage of nest sites, you put up nest boxes. You don’t need endless PhD students studying a species for 20 years.”

Conservation science, he argues, is often too remote. “Do you sit back and monitor a sick patient or do you treat them and see what works? A lot of species have been studied to extinction.” MORE