Time to start planning new projects. I am concentrating on the native for a bit!
While projects with an international wildlife theme are extremely good to do, it is important not to neglect what is local. Unfortunately people can sometimes be more familiar with the issues facing lions, tigers, giraffes, wolves and rhinos and be totally unaware of the issues that affect their local wildlife.
An example of such an issue relates to squirrels. Locally there is a very healthy population of American Grey Squirrels but unfortunately where I live in Scotland, they are not native. The native squirrel is the red squirrel. This is smaller and has been under immense pressure ever since the introduction of the bigger grey squirrel. Currently red squirrels are now only confined to a handful of areas.
While grey squirrels can be fun to watch out in the local woods, I have to confess I would rather see our native red squirrels. Therefore it is vitally important to raise awareness of how the introduction of the grey has had such a negative impact on our native red populations.
Another issue that I think is quite sad is how remarkably unobservant many people are. I remember while out walking the dog, watching people make their way along a path to get to work… just a short distance up the hill stood three roe deer quietly munching away.
The deer just seemed to know that the chances of people seeing them was very low.
I always wondered what the reaction of those people would have been if they had just turned their head to the left and saw how close the deer were!
Maybe you would argue that it is a good thing that most people are oblivious! After all, it could lead to the deer facing greater disturbance.
While that is certainly a risk… I think it is one that is worth taking. Being the optimistic person that I am, my view is that the more people who are aware of the presence of the deer the more likely they are to value and care for that area.
Going back to the point I made earlier about people not recognizing the animals that live in their own country… here is one example… this is the Pine Marten. Well Pine Marten under construction!
I wonder if people would recognize this animal as being native to Scotland.
It is a forest dweller that is unfortunately confined to the North of the Country. This gorgeous member of the weasel family has been in decline but thankfully numbers are now rising.
These new drawings of a Pine Marten and a Roe Deer once finished will be added to my gallery of local wildlife. My intention will be to make prints from the originals and use the illustrations as a means of provoking discussion about wildlife issues.
This concentration on local wildlife will not be to the neglect of international issues.
It is my view that by by raising awareness of what is happening locally on the doorstep, it can not only foster an interest… but also provoke a call to action . As people become more involved with the local… hopefully they will start to identify the connections with the global.
Migrating birds demonstrate this perfectly. People tend to like birds and welcome the return of swallows and swifts. But, for these birds to survive they need to have good habitat not only at both ends of the journey but also on the stop over areas in between. Migrating birds would be a good subject to draw in the future.
All too often people are sympathetic to international causes but their distance creates a remoteness and a feeling of powerlessness. By valuing the local hopefully they will make the connection and support the global too!