Put your hands up for wildlife

Macclesfield Express - - THE LAUGHING BADGER - SEAN WOOD

I WAS asked re­cently for ad­vice on how to vol­un­teer in the world of con­ser­va­tion, a sub­ject al­ways close to my heart and an easy re­quest. Just go to: en­vi­ron­men­tjob. co.uk/volunteering for a ver­i­ta­ble field-day, lit­er­ally.

My son, Cu­lain, and I have done a spot of volunteering in the pris­tine wilder­ness in the far north of Be­larus, a stone’s throw from Rus­sia.

The Taiga forests cloak the land as far as dis­tant Siberia, and the only tourists you’re likely to en­counter, are the brown bears, wolves and lynx that criss-cross borders with no need for visas. They are in­deed the free-men of their do­main, Europe’s last ex­panse of wild lands lit­tle al­tered since the Ice Age.

I have a good friend, Dmitry, a guardian of the for­est and wildlife re­searcher, who un­til re­cently was em­ployed by the Be­laru­sian gov­ern­ment to carry out sur­veys and mon­i­tor the wildlife 300kms north of Minsk.

Cu­lain spent a month with Dmitry mon­i­tor­ing Ural owls and lynx. I wanted to be that age again, and was very ex­cited for my lad at the very thought of it.

For­tu­nately, his mo­bile phone still worked, and the daily texts in­cluded: ‘Hi Dad, Just had three beaver, two white-tailed ea­gles and Lynx tracks be­fore break­fast’...’ Ouch, I’ve just felt the wrath of a Ural Owl’s talons as Dmitry tagged it’... ‘Lis­ten Dad, those are ‘wild’ wolves howl­ing in the night, can you hear them?” I could, and ‘wow’, just about con­veyed my feel­ings. He em­pha­sised the word ‘wild’, be­cause Dimitry has two semi­tame wolves him­self; they were or­phaned when hun­ters shot the mother, and they now ac­com­pany my friend on his daily rounds. If you are in­tend­ing to work as a vol­un­teer, knowl­edge of GPS is use­ful, be­ing un­fussy about your food is es­sen­tial, the abil­ity to get up early is another plus, as is be­ing able to work alone once shown the task, such as hide build­ing.

Also, depend­ing on where you vol­un­teer, you may find the near­est shops are much more than a walk away, so any lit­tle treats you can­not do with­out, such as your favourite tea bags, you had bet­ter stuff a few in your bag. I am sure read­ers would love to hear from any­one who rolls their sleeves up and gets stuck in, whether at Leighton Moss Re­serve or in Be­larus, as it is al­ways en­cour­ag­ing to hear first-hand ac­counts.

Cu­lain for ex­am­ple used his ex­pe­ri­ences with the wolves to good ef­fect in his univer­sity dis­ser­ta­tion gain­ing a 1st class Hon­ours in coun­try­side man­age­ment.

Here are two ex­am­ples of cur­rent vol­un­teer posts which are avail­able. Cater­ing as­sis­tant at the this year’s Bird­fair.

Held at Rut­land Wa­ter Na­ture Re­serve this is the event of the year if you’re into birds and wildlife. Bird­fair en­com­passes the whole spec­trum of the wildlife in­dus­try while at the same time sup­port­ing global con­ser­va­tion projects.

They are look­ing for vol­un­teers to help with the cater­ing team. You can help on just one day or for the full three days. En­trance is free for vol­un­teers and re­fresh­ments are pro­vided, volunteering@ rut­land­wa­ter.org.uk.

Fur­ther afield, is In­ter­na­tional Pri­mate Res­cue in South Africa where they give a home to ex-pet, ex-lab and ex-zoo mon­keys. A lot of the pri­mates have be­havioural prob­lems and can never be re­leased in the wild. At the mo­ment they care for 120 pri­mates: mar­mosets, macaques, tamarins, mona mon­keys, squir­rel mon­keys, patas mon­keys, grey mouse le­murs and ca­puchins. Once a week, short-term vol­un­teers get the op­por­tu­nity to spend qual­ity time in safe en­clo­sures.

Check out IPRSouthAfrica@ya­hoo. co.za for fur­ther de­tails.

The Laugh­ing Badger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Pad­field, Glos­sop

●● Woody while volunteering in Be­larus with wild bi­son

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.