Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Rewilding Takes Flight

Hans Hoffman wild boar piglet illustration

The conservation charity Rewilding Britain launched last week. In the emotive brouhaha I fleetingly imagined savage animals let loose to take revenge on us. With one swipe of fangs or claws they'd get us back. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth for the systemic extinctions we leave in our wake. Then I remembered this famous You Tube sensation. (PLAY)

Narrating the story of 'trophic cascade' George Monbiot tells us what happens when a keystone species is given the chance to fit comfortably into a new habitat, creating a rapid positive effect on the whole ecosystem. Springwatch told the same tale this year, this time with English beavers.

Rewilding Britain gives some UK examples on the website, and a blog entry by Martin Harper talks about conservation in action at the RSPB. Even in intensively farmed East Anglia there are success stories, such as Lakenheath RSPB's cranes. In 2007 these birds returned and bred successfully (the first time in England in four hundred years). The Great Crane Project website points out that these are wild birds, discerning individuals who chose a good spot where the RSPB are able to provide extra protection. They are not part of a reintroduction project.

Next week I'll be far away from my East Anglian flatlands. I'll be in South Wales and near the Forest of Dean. One of these days in their garden my relatives might find wild boar rootling, an adder basking or a goshawk flashing through with outstretched talons. And might there be a lynx or a wolf in my niece and nephew's lifetime? Time will tell.

Meanwhile following the first conclusive sighting of a pine marten in England in over 100 years Shropshire lad Paul Evans referred us to his interesting article about ‘the weasley outlaw in the shadows’. Amateur wildlife recorder Dave Pearce took two photographs in a wood in Shropshire last week and Evan’s interesting article points out that the animals thought to be extinct from England may have been present all along. But Cambridge? Really? We have so few trees. There’s a Cambridge near Stroud in Gloucestershire too isn’t there? That would make more sense. But Northampton is mentioned too. Keep your eyes peeled (and that includes roadkill)...

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