As film-maker Gordon Buchanan, who will deliver the festival’s keynote speech, said, “the thrill of seeing a golden eagle soaring over a Scottish hillside is an unbeatable experience”.
And that experience is one which can draw in people from across the UK and the rest of the world when we finally conquer Covid and tourism is able to resume as before.
A key conservation strategy should be to find ways to make money out of nature or, to put it another way, provide livelihoods for both humans and the animals that we once relentlessly persecuted, in some cases to extinction.
The South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project, which is running the festival, aims to increase numbers of this iconic bird in the area and, as Buchanan said, “they should and could be more common in the south of Scotland”.
Persecution of birds of prey may not be anything like what it was, but does still take place and the finger of suspicion often points towards the grouse shooting concerns.
The SNP warned in November that it plans to bring in a strict new licensing scheme, if it wins this year’s Scottish Parliament election, after deciding self-regulation has failed.
That was met with industry outrage and warnings of damage to the rural economy. Turning wildlife conservation into a greater boon to that same economy will go a long way to winning over hearts and minds.