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Defining Rewilding

There has been a lot of talk recently about the definition of rewilding and the apparent lack of a definitive meaning for the movement that is gaining more and more traction in the public consciousness across the world right now.

For me, it has always been clear, but not something that can be summed up in a short sentence. So in the interests of clarity, here is my interpretation for which I believe there is a strong consensus.

Rewilding at its core is about the mass restoration of ecosystems, encompassing small, medium and large scale projects where natural processes are allowed to interact without ongoing human intervention; restoring land to its uncultivated and wild state to maximise biodiversity. The media has predictably diluted this message and instead fixated on the reintroduction of lost species – but this is just one, albeit important, ingredient for achieving the rewilding ideal. However, reinstating an ecosystem’s trophic function – and by that I mean the way in which predator, prey and plants interact – is a pivotal part of the rewilding model. Continue reading Defining Rewilding

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Red Kite Reintroduction Flying High At Argaty

Spent yesterday afternoon at the Argaty Red Kite hide and would highly recommend a visit to Central Scotland’s only feeding station for these impressive raptors. Situated on a working farm, it’s a great example of wildlife conservation and farming coexisting and providing a valuable source of tourism revenue to the local economy.  Between 1989 and 2009, RSPB Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage conducted an ambitious reintroduction project for this severely persecuted species, having become extinct in Scotland as a breeding bird during the late 19th Century following their once widespread population becoming decimated by sporting estates, egg collectors and taxidermy. With their help, Lerrocks Farm continues to play a vital role in their revival, through supplementary feeding and education. Continue reading Red Kite Reintroduction Flying High At Argaty

The Wildlife Of Mull

Common Buzzard

I recently spent a very enjoyable week wildlife-spotting on the Isle of Mull, just off the west coast of Scotland.  The island’s biodiversity is excellent, primarily due to the wide variety of habitats on offer. Oak woods, coniferous forest, moorland, marshland, sandy beaches, sea lochs, machair, hill lochans, streams and rivers, mountains, estuaries and around 300 miles of coastline: Mull has it all.  And the seas that surround the second largest island in the Inner Hebrides are arguably even more species-rich, with an abundance of fish, crustaceans and other marine life.

Continue reading The Wildlife Of Mull

Scimitar-horned Oryx Reintroduction Enters New Phase

A further 23 Scimitar-horned Oryx were released into a remote part of Chad this week, as part of a long-term international conservation project to reinstate this most persecuted of antelope back into one of their historic strongholds.  The species is believed to have become extinct in the wild during the early 1990s – the precise year is widely disputed – but are now showing signs of a revival following a release of an initial 23 animals last August into the same region.  This was made possible after a group of 40-50 Oryx were taken from the wild into captivity in the 1960s after decades of hunting decimated their population across Northern Africa.

Continue reading Scimitar-horned Oryx Reintroduction Enters New Phase

Cheetah Population Plunges

cheetah-1305792_1280

A new study led by the Zoological Society of London [ZSL] and the Wildlife Conservation Society [WCS] has uncovered a dramatic decline in their numbers, with only around 7,100 believed to now exist in the wild. With a historic population of over 100,000 in 1900, the species is clearly now in a fragile state, amid calls for them to be reclassified by the IUCN as endangered. The reasons behind their collapse include:

  • Habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation.
  • Human-wildlife conflict.
  • Loss of prey due to the growing bushmeat trade.
  • Illegal pet trade.

Continue reading Cheetah Population Plunges

World’s Most Biodiverse Location Announced

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Creative Commons
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Creative Commons

This enviable title has been awarded to Manu National Park in Peru, now believed to contain the greatest variety of terrestrial species on  Earth.  Following exhaustive research conducted across 16 of the most biodiverse places in the world, using 60 camera traps, Manu’s pristine mosaic of 14 different ecosystems came out on top.  The study was carried out by the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring [TEAM] Network, utilising systematic field station data collection procedures honed over many years to ensure the utmost veracity.  Their work serves to identify trends in species diversity, which can then inform and shape conservation strategy.

Continue reading World’s Most Biodiverse Location Announced

Scotland’s Woodland Bird Populations Up 68% Since 1994

Female blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla). ©Lorne Gill
Female blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla).
©Lorne Gill

This was the headline finding from the Scottish Natural Heritage [SNH] report published today, following dedicated long-term data collection primarily by volunteers with the British Trust for Ornithology [BTO] and Joint Nature Conservation Committee [JNCC] Breeding Bird Survey.  Farmland bird numbers were also found to have risen substantially, whereas upland and wader species have seen considerable declines.  Woodland birds with the greatest proliferations include the Great Spotted Woodpecker – up 530% – and the Chiffchaff, up an incredible 752%.

Continue reading Scotland’s Woodland Bird Populations Up 68% Since 1994

Shining A Light On The Red Squirrel

Image courtesy of SCOTLAND: THE BIG PICTURE.Image courtesy of SCOTLAND: THE BIG PICTURE.

Every now and again, you come across a book that is more than just a book.  Something that transcends its primary purpose.  A real labour of love.  The Red Squirrel: A future in the forest is such a book, and much like its subject matter, it needs your help.  A crowdfunding campaign is currently underway to secure the funds required to get the photo book into publication, with just 25 days remaining.  You can find out more about the project and how to contribute to it here.      Continue reading Shining A Light On The Red Squirrel

Delving into De-extinction

Should we resurrect extinct species? If we have the animal’s DNA and the means to reproduce it, is the creature truly extinct? It’s a contentious field of research that’s still in its infancy, but it’s no longer science fiction – its potential is a reality thanks to ground-breaking developments in genetic technology. Conservationists, ecologists and the wider scientific community remain divided on the issue.

Those for it see it as a vital lifeline for critically endangered species, such as the Northern White Rhino. It could boost biodiversity, help restore diminished ecosystems and most profoundly, bring back species that were once thought lost forever. Those against the idea view it as a distraction from conventional conservation practices that could dilute the focus to protect existing species. Why conserve when you can ultimately bring back? Continue reading Delving into De-extinction