Fighting on at all levels

Raising the profile about how hideous this cull is very important. So has it been over the past weeks and months. Doing anything and everything to try and get through to those involved with making it happen. From what I’ve witnessed, read and heard, it hasn’t been easy at all, which is obvious! This fight isn’t just about the cruelty to the badgers and the science behind it but the policy and politics too.

So as the culls have begun, it’s important to keep up the fight on every level. We must show them that we’re not going anywhere and neither will we ever give up. At the moment so many things are going on to fight against the cull, it’s quite uplifting in such a horrible situation. Although it is happening right now people haven’t given up at all. I certainly felt very hopeless last week when I heard the news, especially about Dorset, but giving up is the worst thing you can do, it’s all about turning it into positive energy and strengthening the fight.

As you may know there’s a whole bunch of dedicated people patrolling the cull zones. I follow what’s happening and how their doing via social media. It looks a very, very tough job for them all. Whether it’s the lack of sleep or some of the sights they witness, it must be hard. But these people are just brilliant, they still go out and are still doing everything they possibly can. Unfortunately though, they do need more support. By that I mean more people and funds. By having more people patrolling with them at night that’s more badgers lives saved, actual lives saved. Whether it’s releasing them from cages before they’re shot, monitoring the setts or patrolling the local area to see what activity is going on.

This is the third time I’ve given details away on my blog but they really do need your help.

Dorset – http://dorsetbandb.org

Gloucestershire – www.glosagainstbadgershooting.org

Somerset – www.somersetagainstthebadgercull.org

I really would like to go and spend a good amount of time helping with all the work they’re doing in the cull zones but unfortunately at the moment I only have at least one weekend planned.

As you’ll probably know, in a situation like this you just want to do what you can and as I mentioned it’s important to keep the fight up on all grounds, keeping the pressure up. So much so a rally at Westminster took place yesterday afternoon.

The rally started at 12 and took place at Old Palace Yard. People gathered, placards were held high and badger masks were handed out, then a crowd of people turned up with placards and Brian May. He always seems to do a superb job. He raises a lot of awareness on social media and in the media and not just for badgers either. Everyone was advised to wear black as it was acted as a funeral. They also had an old hearse with flowers shaping #TeamBadger and #FailingBadgerCull along with ‘2263 RIP’. It was a very strong and stern message to those on the opposite side of the road.

There was a variety of talks, from MPs such as Caroline Lucas (Green) and Angela Smith (Labour) to Will Travers (Born Free foundation), Hilary Jones (Lush), Pauline Kidner (Secret World), Peter Martin (Badger Trust), Marc the Vet, Brian May and a few others too.

After the talks there was some gathering, chatting and lots of interviewing as there were lots of journalist about.

Here are a few photos from the day.

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I really enjoyed Caroline Lucas’ talk, it was very powerful and clearly expressing that we will win.

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On the way back to our train we happened to pass near this rough place and I couldn’t help but use the opportunity to get this photo.

Badgers – species not game pieces

I go back to school next week, well my first day at sixth form. Young people and children all over the country will be going back either this week or next. I wonder what the majority of them got up to during their summer term? I wonder how many got outside more then once and interacted with nature? I bet it wasn’t many, in fact I bet it’s a scary figure.

Seeing as many would not even gone out in the countryside or considered that, they won’t be aware of the horrors that are about to begin. Another bid to vandalise the British countryside to please some senseless humans.

I’ve had a busy summer holiday but I’ve enjoyed it a lot. Obviously all wildlife related! If I wasn’t out and about travelling around to different events or writing for some reason or another I was out on my local patch or going to watch and film one of my favourite animals, the badger.

They are a superb creature and I have a great interest in them. I think when I first started setting my trail camera up a few years ago at a local sett, was when my love for them grew. I got some brilliant footage of them rolling around, playing with each other, eating and some unusual stuff too. This was amazing and got me very excited. It still does now when I set my camera up or spend some hours around the sett.

A few years back I also started to learn more about the problems that some have with this animal. Whether it’s to do with btb or because some have no respect whatsoever for them. After them having such a positive impact on me, I wanted to give that back how and when I could. This included writing about them here on my blog, getting involved with the Badger Trust, going on demonstrations and much more. As this has grown more, I plan to go out later this month to the cull zones and volunteer there.

It’s difficult to do more though as I’m still at school. I remember just a few months back when I didn’t quite have my priorities straight, I’d be down to the nearby badger sett to watch them rather then revise. I think it did me good though!

Thinking and writing about when I go and watch or film them brings me joy. It makes me realise that there is hope fighting for an animal that deserves to be here much more then any one of us.

I’ve felt pretty hopeless and down over the last week after the news, even though it was predictable. I think that’s the reason why it’s taken me almost a week to write this blog post, I just haven’t known what to write. But I wanted to write something. Even though the animals that I watch here in Staffordshire aren’t in cull zones, they’re just like those that are. They’re still the same species. Sadly though, they’re still targeted by persecution and man’s evil eye to entertain. A couple of years back there had been disruption at the sett I visit the most but fortunately all looks fine at the moment.

Even with my love for the countryside and badgers, it doesn’t make me naive and stupid. I’m fully aware that there is a problem with btb in cattle and that something needs to be done.

What makes this issue worse for everyone though is the fact that it’s this badger blame game. Wrong on every ground and it’s extremely corrupt, I really can’t understand what their game is. Well I can, we’ve got a Tory government and too many people who either don’t give a dam about what goes on in the countryside or have no idea and aren’t aware. Along with this, those that are the most ‘connected’ and have the most ‘power’ are those who are greedy. Another aspect is DEFRA (etc) have got to be seen to be doing something about btb, and badgers are the easy way out.

It’s like picking on the vulnerable or the poor, the badgers obviously have no voice. However they do have a lot friends and supporters from a whole range of backgrounds! Ones who will stop at nothing to protect them and give the badgers the justice they deserve, wanting to let them live in peace!

At the moment, seeing as the cull is going ahead in West Gloucestshire, Somerset and now Dorset, all energy is being aimed at getting out in and around the cull zones. This includes sett sitting, patrolling, sabbing, help at the camps and much more. These are the people that are saving lives now and they desperately need as much help as possible so if you can help in any way then please do.

You can find out more and get hold of contact details by clicking here.

I’d also like to give a plug for National Badger Day which is on the 6th of October.

Thanks Mr Gibb but nature is important

I’m a strong believer that outdoor education, actually being taught outside and learning about the natural world around, needs to be something that’s taught in every school. Throughout the whole of my education nature is something that I was never really taught about in school. Thinking back to primary school, I’m trying to remember what we did which was wildlife related. I’m really struggling to think of anything. I mean we went on days away, one trip was five days up to the Lake District and we went out walking a few of the days but I don’t remember much a part from some sight-seeing. One thing I do remember from primary school though was that I felt like my interest was not encouraged. Thinking back, it wasn’t that bad but at the time I was only about eight or nine. What I remember is going to York for a day trip and the Headmaster had said ‘Has anyone been to Yorkshire before?’ and the weekend before I’d been to Bempton Cliffs so I shot my hand straight up and told him a bit about it. His reply was a mutter and that was about it really.

In primary school I was known to be a bit mad and everyone seemed to think I knew everything about wildlife, this was obviously because they knew not much at all. I remember the teacher visiting a website on the big board in front of where we all sat and the banner of the site displayed a lake with a large bird of prey. The teacher asked me if I knew what it was, I replied with stating it was an osprey and everyone seemed amazed.

These are just a few of my own memories. I also decided to ask my brother what he remembers, he’s two years younger, and he told me that the only nature based thing he remembers was dissecting pellets the one time. That was it.

There’s two reasons why I’m doubting my old primary school, well the curriculum in general, for the lack of nature themed lessons. In a world like today when we’re distracted by new incredibilities like gadgets, we all need to be aware of what is the truest to us all. What we all come from and what, without, we wouldn’t be here. Also, with the huge plummet of species, rise in climate change, more consumption etc, we need to understand what we can do to help and the fact we need more people then ever coming through to help in these situations.

As I mention, with more and more distractions about like gadgets and parents not always pushing their children to go outside. Whether that be because it’s easier to give them a phone, they think it’s too dangerous with the scare of the media nowadays or they just don’t think of that as an option. This reconnection needs to happen somewhere.

There are still parents who encourage their children, like families going out for afternoon walks, but still there’s that danger stigma or the fact times have moved on. Yes, that’s right, obviously times have moved on but we still rely on the natural world.

There’s also fantastic organisations and charities, whether national or independent, that open their doors to children for weekly or school holiday wildplay events. I’m a leader of a Wildlife Watch group at the National Memorial Arboretum and once a month we have sessions where we’ll do a range of activities. As much as it’s great for those kids that do turn up, sadly it’s the same kids every month. No matter how much advertising it’s not very often we get a different face.

Could this be the case with some other groups like this? Are these the kids with parents who do encourage them? My point is, not every child is fortunate enough to join groups like this and get encouragement this way. Whether their parents don’t have time to take them, they don’t find out or they don’t see much of a point. These are some of the exact reasons why I think more needs to be done in schools so EVERY child is given the opportunity too.

An example that made me realise this was from some of the outdoor education things I have done in schools. A project, that I’m very involved with, approached a local school and they were interested. We normally spend a day or the afternoon rotating around the classes. When I was speaking to a group of children the other week at an afternoon event, one lad was telling me how much he enjoyed it all and that he’d never done it before. This also backs up that every child has that connection there and love for nature, but are they exposed to it and are they aloud to let this flourish?

By saying ‘education’, it can sometimes make it seem like it’s made really serious and perhaps boring. Obviously this isn’t something that should be happening and I think actually getting outdoors could take this away and have many more benefits. By the getting outside part, it does make you remember as it’s hands on and practical. I was speaking to someone just a few days ago and they said when they think back to school, one thing they remember is going pond dipping. This was interesting seen as they’re probably about mid-60s and have had a life long career in conservation. It’s that sort of stuff that inspires people. But a one off outdoor lesson or a one off module learning about the food chain in Year 2 isn’t something that entices the child even more. With regular lessons they are given time to develop, learn more and see other opportunities. Perhaps nag their own parents and go along to groups and sessions.

I could go on about this subject all day long, it’s something I’m passionate about. Young people are the future and from a first hand experience of being surrounded by people my age who have no interest it’s very worrying. I feel as though they’ll just be a bunch of us in about 30 years time fighting against everything, especially with declines, extinctions, climate change and problems like this ever getting worse and worse. They don’t listen now so what makes sure they’ll listen in the future when there may well be even less people speaking out.

Obviously it isn’t all doom and gloom. Sometimes people in power do realise, let’s hope it’s not before it’s too late, but more importantly there are some great young people out there fighting for the cause of the natural world. There’s also some great communities and support out there too.

I’ve gone on a lot more then I wanted to now. The purpose of writing this blog was to share that I’d had another reply re my idea and thoughts on outdoor education in schools. A few months back I decided to meet with my MP, Michael Fabricant. He told me to write down all my points and thoughts then to send them to him and he’d forward them onto the Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb. After finally summing it all up into less then about five pages, I sent it off and got a reply today.

Before I got really involved and before meeting my MP etc, I decided to do a bit of research into what is actually on the curriculum today. However my reply proves there wasn’t much point as this is basically what Nick Gibb has stated in his letter.

In the first paragraph he agrees with my point ‘about the importance of outdoor education’. He then goes onto say that the new National Curriculum provides the ‘opportunity to acquire a core of essential knowledge in key subjects’. My first thought to that was nature is a key subject but he points out that nature and interaction outside the classroom is only included. He states that this is ‘across the curriculum, in particular, in geography and science which aim for children to learn about the natural world’. He has a good point there, it is included but this is against what I said in the first place. Lessons like this aren’t regular. They’re topic based and it varies from year to year throughout school. As I mention before, throughout my primary school experience I remember science lessons but not many about nature at all.

In my letter to him I also state that declines in recent years are scary and the low figures that show young people aren’t connected match this. More nature education in school could help reverse the amount of children not connected for obvious reasons but he does not mention this in his reply. A part from what’s happening at the moment. The new curriculum, from last September, is very similar to the one before.

So, I’m sorry Mr Gibb but your reply only states what the curriculum states at the moment. Nature is more important. It’s the same as any other subject. Take History.  We’ll always have that ability to look into the past with professions like Historians and evidence. The past never goes but if we don’t encourage primary school children (the next generation) to explore, enjoy and look after their natural surroundings then they’ll be no future for it. Whether that be people doing there bit as an individual or people going into the profession of conservation, natural science etc. It’s disappearing before our eyes now, we can’t let this carry on.

I plan to write back to him within the next week.

Follow up – Green revision

It seems so long since I did my last set of exams that I can’t even remember what it was like when I was revising. Even though I may not have thought it at the time, there is another side!

Some of you may remember that I wrote a blog about how I was getting through the stress of my exams and revision. I found all the advice that I was given from the school and others very stressful so I took a step back and did what I enjoy more then anything, just chilling out by going out on my local patch. Even though I always find this extremely beneficial I didn’t think I’d find it as helpful as I did when doing my exams. It was something that I thought would only get better if I got on with them and the revision.

It was a great discovery I made. I thought that surely others would find it as useful as I. Just going out and being surrounded by greenery. Without over thinking it though, this is obvious. It’s like some sort of ‘nature programming’ in everyone’s mind. Forever humans have been surrounded by, worked with and took from nature. It leaves me very confused that this isn’t understood and that nowadays people think they know better with new techniques, gadgets etc when this is what’s in our blood and has always been.

Anyway, my technique of taking breaks and going onto my patch helped a hell of a lot. It completely destressed me and by the look of my results worked wonders! I’m not saying that my results are all down to this but the only two techniques I used were actually getting on with the revision and getting out. None of this take a break to make a drink or go and watch telly for five minutes.

If you’d like to read the blog I did ‘Green revision’ whilst I was in the midst of my exams click here.