Friday, 27 July 2012


We often forget that wildlife has a different perspective to us, we see our world through our eyes alone. But animals see things differently. 

While relaxing in the sun at the pub on Monday evening we discovered a spider had been weaving a web on a friends arm. We obviously seemed to pose no threat to this tiny creature and while sitting still my friend was just another piece of the spider's landscape. I can't help but think of the films and stories when people are looking for the dragon when they realise they're standing on it already, mistaking it for a mountain.

Peregrine falcons also see things differently to us. We see a city as a place for people with tall concrete skyscrapers being alien to nature. Peregrines see a large group of cliffs with ideal ledges for nesting and a good prey population (they love those feral pigeons). We only need to be reminded that there are more peregrines in Greater London than the Peak District to realise how good a city is for these birds.

On a larger scale it's easy to forget that wildlife doesn't see the boundaries that we do. We create nice little (or not so little) nature reserves, with clear borders within which nature flourishes. But wildlife doesn't really understand that within this safe circle they are (relatively) safe and outside they may not be. They might learn through experience if they live long enough but really there's a lot of luck involved. That's why it's so important to encourage all land use to be wildlife friendly, or at least wildlife considerate. Whether farmland, woodland, beaches or cities there will be wildlife living and needing a little helping hand. 

Stepping up again wildlife doesn't see our country borders as we do. There are some cases where wildlife doesn't have a choice. For example, there are few other rest spots on the migration route across the Mediterranean than Malta, but would birds try to make the whole trip in one go if they knew they might well be shot when resting on the island? Other cases if the wildlife knew about countries they might choose a different home. For example Scotland has vicarious liability laws (which hold land owners, as well as land managers, responsible for wildlife crimes)  and England doesn't. If this means that wildlife is less likely to be threatened then wildlife on the borders should shift up north for a better chance. But they don't know that, and there's no way to explain it to them. So we must continue to aim for the best protection for wildlife, everywhere around us. Ideally there would be patches of wildlife friendly land, and uniform sufficient legal protection everywhere. From my perspective (and I think also wildlife's) that seems like something worth fighting for.

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