This morning’s discussion about the Northern Bald Ibis on the Today programme was a bit pathetic and maybe exemplifies the BBC’s inability to deal accurately and seriously with wildlife stories.
Jim Naughtie couldn’t pronounce ‘ibis’ properly and neither he nor the reporter could manage to say ‘ornithologist’. Hardly the worst crime in the world, even the world of broadcasting, but imagine the shock if they had mispronounced the capital of Burundi or its President.
The story was about the imminent extinction of the species if it is lost from Syria in the fighting that is blighting so many human lives in that region. The most perfunctory search on the internet would show that there are hundreds of Northern Bald Ibis in Morocco (thanks to a recovery project by BirdLife International, including RSPB).
The Northern Bald Ibis isn’t on the brink of extinction, but thinking that it was, the BBC trotted out its usual undermining question ‘Does it really matter?’
On ‘Bald Ibis Radio’ the question was asked ‘All this violence and people killing each other – does it really matter? After all, people are nowhere near extinction, there seem to be c7 billion of them.’.
So it all seemed slightly inept – in a way that would embarrass the BBC if the subject were sport, politics or literature – but since this is only the future of a species on the planet then it doesn’t really matter to get the facts right or to treat it seriously.