Police are investigating the disappearance of a rare bird of prey and treating it as suspicious. It is believed that the male hen harrier is dead after its satellite tag ceased transmitting a signal in Wiltshire. The chick which has been named Vulcan was one of five that hatched in Northumberland last year that the RSPB tagged. This is the eleventh sudden disappearance of a satellite-tagged hen harrier since last summer RSPB says.
Disappearance is baffling
RSPB says it tracked the movements of the young bird as it made its way from Northumberland down to the Peak District. However, at the start of the year the tag just stopped transmitting South of Calstone Wellington. What is baffling is that neither the remains of the protected birds or any damaged tags have been found. A spokesperson for RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE project said Vulcan’s tag had been working just fine, so for it to suddenly cease transmission makes the charity very suspicious that something untoward has happened to him.
Rare species of bird
The hen harrier is one of the rarest species of birds in the UK and under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 are protected by law. Unfortunately, they are also the most intensely hunted species of all of UK birds of prey largely because of the threat they pose to free-range fowl and game birds. A spokesperson for the Wiltshire Police said the rural crime team is partnering with the RSPB to try and determine the circumstances.
Hen harrier persecution needs to end
The spokesperson adds that there is no trace of the bird does raise some valid concerns about what happened to it. Gareth Cunningham another spokesperson from the RSPB says the suspicious disappearance of Vulcan is serious cause for concern of the safety of any planned reintroduction of this magnificent species. RSPB says it believes deeply in ending the persecution of hen harriers in order to restore the species population in the UK.
In November 2008 the UK Parliament passed the Climate Change Act. That was the culmination of intense lobbying of a variety of conservation coalitions that RSPB was a member of. That is obviously a spectacular achievement but many people must be asking what has been RSPB been doing in the decade since it helped bring about the act to reduce the effects of climate change? Well here are five achievements of RSPB over the last decade.
RSPB is a founder member of two conservation coalitions
RSPB helped found The Climate Coalition which helps to raise awareness of the impact of climate change on the things people love as well as influence the policy of the UK governments. RSPB played a massive part in the Show the Love campaign which got people including politicians and celebrities to wear hearts to show their commitment to the conservation of the environment and wildlife.
RSPB now manages its nature reserves differently
RSPB reserves are managed in order to develop resilience to climate change and the organisation seeks to help wildlife adapt to changing conditions. This includes allowing species to expand their range as well as allowing visiting species to move in permanently. An example of this is the migration of spoonbills permanently from continental Europe.
Restoring critical UK peat bogs
England’s peat reserves are able to prevent 90,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere alone. In Scotland RSPB has been engaging with the Scottish Government for many years now. This has been key to getting it to commit to the restoration of 250,000 hectares or 350,000 football pitches of damaged peatland by 2030.
Creating new inland wetlands
RSPB has created reserves at Lakenheath Fen, Ham Wall, Ouse Fen that seek to prove brand new homes for wildlife whose coastal homes are at risk from rising sea levels. Ham Wall for example now serves as home to a minimum of six species of heron. Another example of RSPB’s conservation work is Ouse Fen which will eventually serve as home to the biggest reedbed in the UK.
Future proofing coastal communities
RSPB is trying to minimise the risk of flooding whilst also establishing new wildlife habitats. You can see this happening in West Sussex and in Essex. RSPB has realigned the coast in Medmerry which not only helps keep nearby homes protected but has also resulted in the creation of a range of habitats. Another example is Wallasea which has had its landscape restored creating 670 hectares of coastal wetland over the ten years which ended in 2018.
Michael Clarke, the RSPB chief executive is warning that there are less than 12 months with which to rescue the UK’s degraded environment and save the country’s endangered birds and animals. Mr Clarke says that the parliamentary bills that are scheduled to be published over the course of the year will need to force crucial changes to the way farms and fisheries are run in the country if the flora and fauna of the nation are to be rescued. He adds that the country is on the brink and if the UK fails to decisively act now, the nation will pay the price in the years that follow.
There are three bills set to be introduced that will govern agriculture fisheries and the environment which will serve as replacements for existing EU regulations. So far, the government has not disclosed the contents of these bills however conservationists are worried that there is a real risk that the new legislation will not provide the necessary powers to restore the UK’s crisis-hit environment. According to Mr Clarke, since 1980, 420 million individual birds have disappeared as a result of modern agricultural practices. Whilst that is a staggering number, the decline in insect life over the same time frame has been even more catastrophic.
Common Agricultural Policy
The main reason behind the declines is proliferation and intensification of agriculture and changes in land use. The Common Agricultural Policy of the EU has been perhaps the most destructive. The CAP emphasises the importance of agricultural output above all else and if what Mr Clarke says is correct this has resulted in the destruction of homes and food sources of an immeasurable number of birds, animals and insects.
Once in a generation opportunity
Brexit presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to correct the damage. Currently about £3 billion a year is spent on agriculture in the UK as a result of the CAP. The money is used to boost output at great cost to the surrounding countryside. The new legislation needs to ensure that some money is provided for the maintenance of the environment and if it fails to do so, the consequences will be appalling, wiping out dozens of critically endangered bird species in the country. Mr Clarke says the UK is one of the world’s most depleted countries when it comes to biodiversity ranking 29th worst out of 218.
The last chance to make things right
Mr Clarke concludes by saying the new legislation could well be the last opportunity to end the degradation and correct the course of the country. The UK needs to establish strong targets for improving the quality of water, air and soil in the country. The bills should ensure there is a watchdog that enforces the standards and protects UK wildlife and fisheries. It is by no means clear whether the legislation will do all of that but Mr Clarke warns that if it doesn’t, there will be trouble.
Category: The Aspinall Foundation
If you are planning a holiday this October half term, why not visit Howletts near Cantebury Kent which is one of the UK’s most successful animal parks. This holiday, the park will ensure the kids will have lots of fun with plenty of prizes to be won in various competitions, free activities and educational talks that will be given over the whole holiday.
Activities every day
The fun starts on Saturday 24th October and will continue to Sunday 1st November with activities taking place every day. These include the frightening fact trail which will educate visitors on the dangers animals face in the wild as well as plenty of talks that are filled with fun and facts. There is also a touch table that is simply terrifying that will give visitors the opportunity to build a hotel for bugs that serves to protect creepy crawlies.
“‘We’re open every day throughout half term and we’re encouraging all our visitors to get into the spirit of Halloween early with all our frightful fun activities. This year we are also holding a fancy dress competition, on Saturday 31st October, where participating visitors can win some fantastic prizes.’ Neil Spooner, Animal Director said.
There will be a number of activities to celebrate Halloween including a fancy dress competition, plus visitors will be able to participate in a workshop for pumpkin carving. Later on guests will be able to see the animals enjoy the tasty treats. Howletts Wild Animal Park has consistently been rated as a top attraction by reviewers on TripAdvisor and was recently inducted into the site’s hall of fame.
Lots of things to do and see
The park will have its doors open over the entire half term period and visitors will have the opportunity to wander throughout the 90 acres of extremely beautiful natural parkland and spot rare and endangered species. If you are really lucky you may even get to see the latest arrivals to the park, the adorable baby gibbons and many more.
Its freezing in the UK at the moment and the onset of really cold weather can in some cases leaves people with very little time to prepare. Whilst that may be the case, there are some things that people should really try and do in order to cut the risk to their pets and provide assistance to wildlife. Here are a few tips for helping both your pets and wildlife make it through the coldest part of the year.
Small things can make a big difference
You could for example wipe down a horse following exercise which would cut back on the risk of chill. If you have rabbits indoors then an obvious thing to do is provide a tray of grass for them. There are many other simple things that lovers of wildlife can do, and these small things can make a very large difference. You should stop to consider how the weather is affecting not just the people around you, but the animals as well.
Winter is particularly challenging for animals
Winter can be particularly challenging for squirrels, hedgehogs and birds. Anywhere between one to two thousand wild animals are taken to RSPCA shelters every year between December, January and February. These animals are usually suffering from hunger, cold and dehydration. This means it is important for people to understand how to handle situations like this.
There are lots of things people can do to help
There are lots of things individuals can do. For example, you could make your garden friendly for wildlife. This means leaving out food and maintaining your garden pond. Access to unfrozen clean water can make all the difference to whether animals in the wild are able to survive the colder months. Just melting a small hole in your garden pond can make all the difference.
Make sure your cat has access to indoor litter
If you have a cat at home, the RSPCA is recommending that you make sure you provide them with enough litter trays indoors, not just during the cold months, but throughout the year. During the icy weather, the ground outside may end up frozen and if your cat usually goes to the toilet outside, it may be put off from doing so. This means it is really very important to ensure your cat has suitable indoor toilet facilities.
Leave a little food outside for wildlife
If you own a dog, then make sure you dress them in reflective coats when taking them on walks during the night which will help both of you to stay seen and safe. Nicola White, an expert from the RSPCA says it’s the small things that can make the difference. If you leave just a little bit of extra food outside, a hungry badger or robin may be able to last the whole winter.
“We can all struggle when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and our wildlife friends are often the most vulnerable to the extremes the elements take. They just need a bit of a helping hand sometimes.”
Category: The Aspinall Foundation
World renowned conservation group The Aspinall Foundation which has had unrivalled success in captive breeding of endangered species, says that it is beginning to take the initial steps of returning a group of Javan primates to their original home land where they have nearly been hunted to extinction.
The Aspinall Foundation says it will return a total of five Javan grizzled langurs. The organisation has already flown out the animals to the Javan Primates Rehabilitation Centre (JPRC) in West Java. There were two males and three females that have been returned plus an additional three Javan ebony langurs were also sent home from the Foundation’s Port Lympne Reserve.
Back To The Wild Initiative
Returning the animals to their original stomping ground is part of the Aspinall Foundation’s “Back to the Wild” initiative. Under the program, the charity is returning captively bred animals ranging from endangered species such as gibbons, black rhino, European bison, clouded leopards and gorillas to their native homeland where the survival of these species is being threatened.
Before leaving the UK the langurs were given a battery of veterinary checks to make sure the animals were not carrying any infectious diseases. The process will continue throughout their pre-release phase whilst they are in quarantine in Java. Once the langurs are released into the wild their breeding patterns, habits and movements will be closely monitored by a team of scientists.
Rebuilding Populations In The Wild
The purpose of the Javan project is to rebuild viable populations of primates in the wild, where numbers have dropped as a result of hunting and habitat destruction. Damian Aspinall, Chariman of the Foundation said:
“It is our guiding philosophy that modern conservation must embrace the over-riding need to breed endangered species and then return them safely to the wild in order to restore populations devastated by mankind. These animals belong in their natural habitats on the planet and therefore merely breeding animals and keeping them two by two in captivity for the entertainment of the public can no longer of itself be a valid conservation aim.”
Aside from increasing the indigenous population with captively bred primates and those primates that have been rescued by the charity’s East and West Java centres, the Foundation along with the government of Indonesia is seeking to reduce the practice of poaching and trading of the species through awareness, education and information.
Image Courtesy Of The Aspinall Foundation
Category: The Aspinall Foundation
Ambam is arguably the most famous western lowland gorilla and is a resident at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park. He is celebrating his birthday in style after achieving fame when his gorilla walks like a man video went viral back in 2009 registering over 5.9 million hits. Ambam weighs 220 kilograms and has the ability to stand fully upright and is one of the few gorillas who is able to do this. If you are visiting the park you should also keep an eye out for Ambam’s sister Tamba who also has a two year old son Kabale, both of whom also have the ability to walk upright.
Recently Ambam celebrated his 24th birthday with a cake that was baked especially for him by SugarRush Baking Company in Hastings. The cake was completely gluten and sugar free and made using pumpkin seeds, bananas, apples and carrots. The bottom tier of the cake was made with icing made from apple puree and beetroot, whilst the top of the cake iced with ingredients such are swede puree, carrot and parsnip. The cake itself was decorated with almonds, banana chips, grapes, and aubergine.
Lynsey Mclean, owner of SugarRush Baking Company explains: “I was delighted to be asked to bake a birthday cake for Ambam and had a lot of fun designing it.”
Phil Ridges, Head of Gorillas adds: “All gorillas have the ability to stand upright to some degree although they often choose not to, but Ambam and his sister have a particular talent at standing and walking completely upright on two legs.”
At present Port Lympne Wild Animal Park serves as home to 20 lowland gorillas which are listed as being critically endangered. Gorilla numbers have declined by over 60 per cent over the last quarter century in response to habitat loss, disease induced mortality and high levels of hunting. Last summer the Park working in collaboration with the Aspinall Foundation sought to relocate a family of Gorillas from Kent back to Africa.
Image courtesy of The Aspinall Foundation.
Category: The Aspinall Foundation
The mission at Howletts Wild Animal Park is to preserve animals. Therefore it goes without saying the park is thrilled to announce the birth of a new Gelada Baboon.
It is still far too early to be able to tell the sex of the two week old infant however keepers are very happy with how well Sereba the mother of the new addition is caring for her new born. The Gelada Baboon is a unique species of primate in that it is the only type that feeds primarily on grass. The species is sociable and lives in large hierarchical groups.
Adam May a Primate Keeper at the park says he is extremely pleased that Sereba is taking care of her new born so well. Mr. May says the new addition should be a good playmate for its brother Leena who was born back in 2010.
Howletts Wild Animal Park likes to distinguish itself from regular zoos because of its dedication to animal conservation. The Park is well known for its extreme commitment to animal welfare. Howletts provides large enclosures that allows animals the freedom to enjoy foliage and privacy as they choose. The Park as a result has become one of the top breeding sanctuary’s for some of the most en
Howletts Wild Animal Park, near Canterbury in Kent, distinguishes itself from conventional zoos through its devotion to animal conservation and is well known for the high standards of its animal welfare. The park offers fantastic large enclosures that allow the animals to enjoy natural foliage and privacy as they choose. As a result, the park has successfully become a breeding sanctuary for some of the world’s most endangered animals.
Neil Spooner, Animal Director commented: “We are committed to providing the highest standards of animal conservation and hope to lead by example to other zoos. It has been great to celebrate so many animal births recently, and we are very proud of our latest gelada baboon infant.”
Port Lympne and Howletts Wild Animal Parks both work very closely with The Aspinall Foundation which is a leading animal conservation charity. In 2013 the charity was responsible for the successful return of a family of Western lowland gorillas from Kent to the African wild.
Image Courtesy of The Aspinall Foundation
Category: Animal Charities, RSPB
Great news emanating from our friends at the RSPB shop, where you can now receive free delivery on all your goods when you spend £25 or more. Simply order online before midnight on Monday 5th July 2013 to enjoy this great offer –
- Add voucher code – T13ITH0036
- Free delivery on £25 plus spend
- Offer ends 05/07/13
They are also offering loads of different gifts with up to 50% off, including rucksacks, bird feeders, kitchenware, notebooks, toys, and loads of other amazing goodies. 150 Suet balls are only £19.99 instead of £25.50, whilst a 5.5kg of table is is now available at half price when you spend over £35.
So why not save yourself some serious cash and help the RSPB with every purchase you make. Your purchase provide much needed funds to help the RSPB to protect the amazing birds and countryside of Great Britain.
Category: Animal Charities, WSPA
WSPA charity officials are asking Australia to stop exporting cattle from Egypt after terrible footage was uncovered on how the animals are being treated. Animals Australia managed to take the footage showing the Egyptians treating the cattle with extreme cruelty at their abattoirs, and now WSPA want the exports to be halted.
This isn’t the first time this has happened though. Back in 2006, cattle exports were halted from Australia to Egypt for nearly four years after concerns over the treatment of cattle were raised. Live exports to Indonesia were also stopped in 2011 after evidence of animal cruelty emerged.
Chief Executive for WSPA, Mike Baker, said –
This is not a one off; there is a history of cruelty and animals being subjected to the worst kind of abuse in the live export trade. It is unacceptable given there is a humane and economical solution to live export of animals. The live export industry would have us believe that conditions in abattoirs meet ‘suitable’ animal welfare standards and that they are improving animal welfare all over the world. This footage demonstrates this is evidently not true.
If you would like to help improve animal welfare for Australia cattle, why not stand up and be counted alongside WSPA by signing their petition to ask for a more ethical solution. Simply click on the link below to add your voice to those who want change, and want it now. It literally takes 30 seconds, and will go a long way to protecting Australian cattle from cruelty.
If you would like to learn more about the work of the WSPA, why not check out our dedicated charity page for more information. With your help, WSPA will try to stop animal cruelty at the source, protecting the world’s animals from mistreatment.