Happy 96th Birthday Sir David Attenborough!

8th May 2022

Today we wish Cambridge Conservation Initiative’s patron, Sir David Attenborough, a very happy 96th Birthday!

Sir David has provided his unwavering support of the CCI partnership since its inception in 2007. He has inspired many of the people involved in the collaboration and his involvement in CCI has meant a lot to us all.

To mark his birthday we are sharing a rather special interview he did last year with CCI former Executive Director, Mike Rands.

Sir David has certainly been an enormous inspiration for so many of us across CCI. Below are just a few examples of his influence.

“What I have learnt the most from David Attenborough is his ability to communicate to the general public and worlds leaders alike. He had shown me how conservation is all about people, as it is people who make the decisions that determine what shape our environment takes. My research is about how different groups of people can work together in conservation. As shown by David Attenborough, we can only create balance in the world between humans, non-humans and the environment if we all work together.” – Fleur Nash, CCI Knowledge Exchange Student

“The Cambridge Conservation Initiative sits within a wonderful building, the David Attenborough Building (DAB), the name honours the extraordinary work of our patron. There is an incredible convergence of influence here – the DAB is a place to grow conservationists and to rebuild nature. Many of the individuals who drive this unique collaborative engine have been directly influenced by Sir David’s work as broadcaster, conservationist and campaigner. Like so many of my colleagues I continue to wonder at the revelations brought to us by Sir David, they are a delight and an urgent clarion call to action. Happy birthday Sir David!” – Dr Mike Maunder, CCI Executive Director

“It is a measure of Sir David’s impact that so many species have been named after him. These include some of the planet’s least known and most threatened species. Of the approximately 36 extant species named in honour of Sir David Attenborough, seven have been assessed for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and very sadly, four are threatened with extinction and one is of elevated conservation concern. These species are an indicator of the respect held for Sir David by the conservation community and a barometer for the state of our planet. I hope that these species, along with all threatened species, are given appropriate conservation attention, as so strongly advocated by Sir David.”  – Craig Hilton-Taylor, IUCN Red List Unit

Sir David Attenborough 'overwrites' a species for Seeing Red.. Overdrawn art installation

“I’m writing this sitting on a hillside overlooking the results of my project, funded by CCI, the Butterfly Banks. It’s a cool spring day, and though they look strange and brutal in the grassland nature reserve, they hold so much promise for conserving not only butterflies, but many other invertebrates and the creatures that rely on them. One day I may see similar banks rolled out across the country, Europe, and dare I dream, the world. I will never forget how lucky I am to be a part of a project like this, and this has only been possible because of you and your support.

Your contributions and tireless efforts as a spokesperson for the natural world has allowed projects like mine and countless others to push the boundaries of what we thought was possible in conservation, and inspired a generation of young people, myself included, to love and care for the world around them.

You have played a strong role in helping me become the person I am today. Watching your nature documentaries as a small child opened my eyes to the wonders of the natural world, and as I continue to watch them as an adult, they cement my passion for conservation. I can only imagine the sheer number of other people out there who share this feeling. As only one of them, all I can say is thank you”. – Esme Ashe-Jepson, CCI Knowledge Exchange Student

Happy birthday Sir David, and many happy returns!