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%.

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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

Rewilding on Dirk Hartog Island

Heartened to hear about an ambitious project to reintroduce 11 locally extinct species to Dirk Hartog Island, off the coast of Western Australia.  The ten mammals and one bird species were once endemic to the island, but their populations declined rapidly following overgrazing by introduced sheep and goats, and from predation by feral cats.  The long-term goal of the ecological restoration project is to return the island’s ecosystem back to how it would have looked and functioned when Dutch explorer, Dirk Hartog, discovered it by chance in 1616. Continue reading Rewilding on Dirk Hartog Island

Delving into De-extinction

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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

The Amphibian Extinction Crisis

Golden Toad. Charles H. Smith. Wikimedia Creative Commons

Today’s contemplation arose after reading about the sad demise of Rabbs’ fringe-limbed tree frog. The inevitability of this species’ extinction was particularly grim – but by no means unusual or surprising given the general health of amphibian populations across the world right now. They face unprecedented threats that include: fungal diseases, habitat modification and fragmentation, pollution and chemical contamination, climate change and ultraviolet radiation. Now almost half of all amphibian species are experiencing a population decline, with over a third threatened with extinction. Most alarmingly of all, at least 160 species are believed to have become extinct during the last two decades. Continue reading The Amphibian Extinction Crisis

More Protection For Pangolins

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The words Pangolin and good news rarely appear in the same sentence, however, the world’s most trafficked mammal received much needed worldwide protection today at the CITES summit in South Africa. All species will now benefit from an absolute ban on their international trade with immediate effect, under the most stringent forms of CITES’ regulation. This status is well overdue, with over a million of the species having been slaughtered for their meat and scales over the last ten years.  Continue reading More Protection For Pangolins

The South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project

Southern Scotland could once again become a stronghold for this majestic raptor, following over £1 million of funding having now been secured by the initiative from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project seeks to substantially boost their numbers in the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway, with just three breeding pairs believed to exist in the regions currently. If the plans come to fruition, a further sixteen breeding pairs could be released, reinforcing what is a most precarious population. Continue reading The South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project

Kuterevo Bear Sanctuary

We visited this refuge during our recent trip to Croatia, where eight of the country’s less fortunate Eurasian Brown Bears reside, having been orphaned within their first year of life primarily due to hunting and road traffic collisions, or rescued from dilapidated zoos. Since 2002 it’s been run almost entirely by volunteers, who depend on donations to build enclosures and cover the daily maintenance of the site and the animal care costs. There are around 1000 living wild in the country, as part of the larger Dinaric population of 2800: the second largest in Central Europe.

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Rewilding Lessons In Risnjak

Having recently returned from a nature-orientated trip to Croatia, the subject of rewilding, and in particular, the proposed Lynx reintroduction here in the UK, has been on my mind. The highlight was a day spent exploring the magnificent – and truly wild – Risnjak National Park. Apart from being a prime example of a thriving forest ecosystem brimming with biodiversity, it was also the setting for Croatia’s own Eurasian Lynx resurgence, originating from the release of six animals from Slovakia into Slovenia in 1973.

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The Wildlife in Nature

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