W is for Wildlife

Posted April 26, 2014 in A-Z Challenge / 2 Comments

Today I’m continuing with the A-Z Blogging Challenge. The aim is to write a post for every day of the month except for Sundays, with each post representing a different letter of the alphabet. This year I’m doing an A-Z of Great Britain, covering as much as I can about British music, literature, TV and film, food, wildlife and culture.

For the letter ‘W’ I have chosen Wildlife.

There aren’t many species of animal that are unique to the UK because of frequent glaciations and former land bridges connecting us to continental Europe. A few endemic species are the Pied Wagtail, Irish Hare and Scottish Wildcat. We also don’t have many mammals here compared to continental Europe due to the short period of time between the last ice age and the flooding of the land bridge between Great Britain and the rest of Europe, so only those species which crossed before the creation of the English channel (or those introduced by humans) exist in Great Britain.

owever, Britain still has a rich mix of wildlife. Here are some of the main types of wildlife native to Britain:

Here’s a Pinterest board I put together, featuring my favourite photos of British wildlife:

Follow Tizzy Potts’s board British Wildlife on Pinterest.

Threats to British Wildlife

There are many threats to British wildlife, such as climate change, pollution, illegal hunting, unsustainable fishing methods, dangerous roads and littering. One of the biggest problems is the destruction of natural habitats. Woodland and natural grassland is cleared and ponds and rivers drained to make way for farming and mining or for settlements or roads to be built. Wildlife is also exposed to chemicals like pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers that are washed into rivers, streams and ponds by the rain and poison the ecosystems.

As a result, the numbers of most species have declined and some have become endangered and very close to extinction. The European otter used to be widespread across Britain but is now only found in the South-West of England, East Anglia, Scotland and Wales. Their decline was mostly caused by exposure to pesticides and water pollution, as well as destruction of their riverside habitat. Since 1983, the Otter Trust in Suffolk has been breeding otters to reintroduce them into suitable areas in an attempt to safeguard their future.

The peregrine falcon also suffered from the introduction of pesticides which worked their way up the food chain and affected their ability to breed. They are now a specially protected bird under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, as there are only about 1,000 pairs left in Britain. The Great Crested Newt population has declined due to many of Britain’s ponds being destroyed by pollution or drained and filled in to make way for buildings and farmland, but recently they have started to increase again in a few areas as people are taking a greater interest in garden ponds.

Queen’s Brian May protesting against the badger cull.

Recently badgers have been threatened by a Government run cull, which aims to control the spread of Bovine TB. I am personally against this cull, as I don’t believe it’s necessary, effective or humane. Some badgers have been wounded and left to die slowly or even ripped apart by dogs. I believe that vaccination, improved testing techniques and stricter controls on the movement of cattle are better options. If you agree, please sign the petition.

Team Badger‘ say:

A scientifically robust trial of badger culling was undertaken which took nearly a decade, cost approx £50 million and the lives of 11,000 badgers. Following careful evaluation of the results, and information from other areas, the Independent Scientific Group concluded ‘badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain’, and indeed, suggests that such action could even make things worse in some areas. Even Defra’s own advisory body Natural England, has said that it has little confidence in the cull delivering the predicted benefits long term. We believe that a cull of badgers will not eradicate TB in cattle in the long term and could virtually wipe out badgers in some areas in the process.

What We Can Do To Help

Create a Nature Reserve

Create a habitat for lots of different species in your own garden. Include:
  • Nesting boxes for birds and bats
  • Bird baths and bird or squirrel feeders
  • Nectar-rich plants to attract bees and butterflies
  • Insect ‘hotels’ and logs, stones and leaves where they can hide.
  • A pond for frogs and newts
  • Bushes and hedgerows where animals can shelter. 

You could keep a diary to make note of the wildlife you spot in your garden.

Avoid Littering
Never dump rubbish outside-always dispose of it safely and recycle it whenever possible. Remember to remove sharp edges from cans and cut up plastic beer rings so that animals don’t hurt themselves. Also be careful to put out fires completely when camping.  
Get Involved
Consider joining a local wildlife group or national charity like The Wildlife Trusts, The RSPB, Team Badger or Wildlife Watch. They have lots of ideas for how adults and children can get involved with countryside conservation. 

What’s your favourite animal native to Britain? Have you ever been involved in a wildlife group?

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