Tomorrow, 8 May, is Sir David Attenborough’s 95th birthday and, to celebrate the special occasion, I have put together ten fascinating facts about this incredible individual who has managed to reach and inspire hundreds of thousands of people across the world during his time on Earth.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that the use of a pesticide, which had been banned for outdoor use in the EU and the UK since 2018, has been authorised for emergency use in England.
The pesticide, which contains a chemical called thiamethoxam, was banned because it can kill bees. However, it has been permitted for emergency use because of a virus threatening the production of sugar.
I caught the end of a BBC documentary yesterday called Natural World and from what I could gather, it was about a man in Australia working to help orphaned kangaroos. Brolga, otherwise known as Chris Barns, first established a kangaroo rescue centre for joeys in Alice Springs in 2005. He rescues and cares for orphaned baby kangaroos by becoming their mum and letting them live in safety on the sanctuary, which he opened in 2011, with other rescued marsupials.
Every year on the 8 March, females are celebrated for their brilliance and amazing achievements, and the issue of inequality and bias is brought to the forefront.
This International Women’s Day I want to raise awareness of the strong, powerful and overall amazing females of the animal kingdom.
Despite being better known as the ‘King of the Jungle’, it’s actually the female African lions who lead the prides. They spend their whole lives in the area they were born in giving them the advantage of knowing where all the best hunting grounds and watering holes are. They are also pretty good at defending their cubs against aggressive adult males (who commonly seek to kill cubs belonging to other males to ensure the survival of their own offspring), hunting and protecting their territory.
Since 2013, the 3 March has been recognised as UN World Wildlife Day – a day in which the world’s wild animals and plants are celebrated with the aim of raising awareness of their existence, the benefits of conservation efforts and, quite often, the risks these animals are facing.
Last week, video footage emerged of a local rugby team playing tug of war with a lion at Dartmoor Zoo in Devon, UK.
Marketed as “human vs beast”, visitors as young as eight-years-old are given the opportunity to pull a rope running underneath a gate into the enclosure of a big cat, which has a chunk of meat attached to the other end, enticing the animal to bite and pull back. The ‘experience’ costs £15 per person although it is not advertised on the zoo’s website raising animal welfare concerns. Continue reading “Zoo offers tug of war with a lion”→
This week four endangered northern bald ibis, who were bred at ZSL London Zoo, were safely transported to Spain. This is where they will soon be released as part of a special conservation project, which is helping reintroduce these unique looking birds to Europe.
The quartet – who were lovingly nicknamed Iris, Indigo, Igor and Ivan by the zoo’s keepers – hatched last year. On 20 February, they travelled to Southern Spain’s Jerez Zoo where they will learn how to be wild before being released in Andalucia.
The species vanished from Europe almost 300 years ago. It’s now believed that there are just 600 northern bald ibis left in the world, reduced to one small part of Morocco (and two breeding pairs in Syria) where they are threatened by habitat loss, hunters and pesticides.
“We’re really hopeful that they’ll go on to breed in the wild – ultimately securing the future of the species” said Paul Atkin, ZSL London Zoo’s bird keeper.
To find out more about the northern bald ibis, head to birdlife.org
Throughout my career in magazines, I have specialised in providing hundreds and hundreds of stories on the topics I am most passionate about – animals and the planet we share with them. Within the last couple of years, I’ve noticed that climate change stories have become more frequent and I would often find myself writing about them almost every single week.
Now, most people know that climate change is an issue because it’s unfortunately taking a negative turn. But what is climate change?
As previously mentioned, I would frequently write about the latest climate change news, often needing to include a clear and succinct definition that was easy for eight to ten-year-olds to understand.
I recently came across this helpful BBC Radio video, which explains exactly what climate change and our carbon footprint is in 90 seconds so thought I’d share it.
On 15 February, thousands of young people across the UK ditched school to take part in a climate change strike demanding that the government take immediate action in tackling the issue. Demonstrations took place in 30 towns and cities, stretching from Cornwall all the way to the Scottish Highlands. The campaign was inspired by the actions of a 15-year-old student from Sweden, called Greta Thunberg, who misses lessons every Friday to protest outside the Swedish parliament.
I have always been a huge admirer of the inspirational primatologist that is Dr Jane Goodall. And over the years, I have been lucky enough to meet her on several occasions after being invited to her annual Roots & Shoots ceremonies in London – one of which I was honoured with the role of presenting the prizes alongside her on stage.
So when I discovered that National Geographic had made a documentary about her using footage from her first expeditions to Gombe in Africa during the 1960s, I couldn’t have been more excited to watch it.
In it, she talks about what she saw when she looked into a chimpanzees eyes. I remember the first time I truly looked into a chimpanzees eyes. It was at the UK’s primate sanctuary, called Monkey World in Dorset. It was the most incredible experience – watching him stare back at me, analysing every part of what he saw. But I felt this deep sadness in my heart. I felt like I could burst into tears at the thought of what humans are doing to our unique planet; harming these beautiful and intelligent animals by destroying the parts of the forest that they call home.
Jane made such revolutionary discoveries during her time in Africa. To think that she was the first human to have been truly accepted by a group of wild chimpanzees, the likes of whom most probably would have never encountered a human before, was remarkable. Seeing all of the newspaper clippings, from outlets breaking her wonderful story, made me think ” wow, what a time it must have been – for her, for women, for the whole world.”
The story of Flo and Flint, albeit incredibly sad, is a prime example that animals are sentient beings. They have feelings. They care and love one another just like we humans do, and equally have the capacity to grieve for family losses.
Watching the documentary, it was incredible to see how close she became with all the animals – not just the chimpanzees. Her passion for raising awareness of the threats chimpanzees are facing in the wild is clearer than clear. Since October 1986, she hasn’t spent more than three consecutive weeks in any one place. Applauding her for her hard work and dedication would be a severe understatement.
She is an inspiration. She is a role model. She is the real-life Dr Dolittle.
This year’s National Mammal Week launches this Saturday. Organised by the Mammal Society, the week long event takes place every year during the last week of October and aims to raise awareness of the challenges mammals in Britain are currently facing.
Although details of 2018’s events have yet to be revealed, last year there was plenty for wildlife champions to get involved in. This included recording mammal sightings and submitting them to the Mammal Society to assist with their conservation research (which can be done through a simple app called Mammal Tracker).
To find out what’s going on near you during National Mammal Week visit mammal.org.uk/national-mammal-week/ or follow the Mammal Society on Facebook.