Tough Conversation The dialogue about conservation and preservation to maintain the biodiversity of our planet is long and fraught with opposing opinions, beliefs and values. The solutions are difficult to agree to and act on. The complexity and layers of this tough conversation require participation of world governments and individual citizens. When planning this painting, I wanted the main characters – the Cape Buffalo and the Yellow and Red-billed Oxpeckers to be engaged in a meaningful way. The flies added context and irritation to the dry and dusty heat of the day. Miserable, uncomfortable, and resigned, the Cape Buffalo puts up with its lot in life. Neither decision maker nor change maker, it is one animal in a large herd that primarily operates in survival mode. The Cape Buffalo relies on the goodwill of others (the Oxpeckers to remove biting insects) to stay alive in the harsh environment. It is aggressive and unpredictable. The Oxpeckers compete, squabble and argue without resolution. In the end, the complexity of their relationship with the Cape Buffalo makes it difficult to know if they help or hinder in the situation. All the while, the flies continue to bite, and the "Tough Conversation" continues.