A quarter of mammals in the UK face extinction. A recent study compiled the nation’s first Red List of endangered species and this was the result. Coupled with the current climate crisis, I found this news distressing but, unfortunately, not surprising. Over the lockdown I experienced a re-connection with nature without the distractions of the bustling digital world. I feel that other people have felt this too. After the announcement I felt obliged to do something, so I decided to try to raise £500 for the Mammal Society by picking up as much litter as I could to clean up the Kent countryside.
It is known that litter can harm mammals, either through ingesting it or becoming trapped in it. They can suffer deep wounds, choke, become trapped in cans – the list goes on… The full effect is not known but it can only be negative. I feel ashamed of the state of our countryside with the majority of our roadside verges, footpaths and bridleways littered with plastic and waste.
What inspires me about nature?
I have always had a passion for nature and it is a hobby that has ran parallel with art. I try to capture the beauty and detail that I experience in nature and this had led me to really appreciate the wildlife on my doorstep.
Being 17, even I have witnessed the decline of mammals during my life. At a young age I remember hearing the quiet crunching sound that filled the garden from the five plus hedgehogs we used to feed. I remember walking along a river bank hearing the comical sound of a water vole plop as it enters the water. The pure excitement I used to get from seeing this brown oval shaped creature swim across a river is something I will never forget. However, now, these experiences are few and far between and I know many people have yet to see these rare animals.
The mammal species at risk of extinction in Britain are:
Critically endangered: wildcat, greater mouse-eared bat
Endangered: beaver, red squirrel, water vole, grey long-eared bat
Vulnerable: hedgehog, hazel dormouse, Orkney vole, Serotine bat, Barbastelle bat
Near threatened: mountain hare, harvest mouse, lesser white-toothed shrew, Leisler’s bat, Nathusius’ pipistrelle
What I achieved
In one month, I completed and exceeded my targets. I cleaned 50 miles and managed to raise £1,275 which is a 155% increase of my original target. It was a great experience and it was so heartening to know that people do care. Many people shared their own wildlife experiences and their efforts in litter picking and I really felt I was a part of a community. I was even supported by Lindsey Chapman and Chris Packham on the Self Isolating Bird Club broadcast which was brilliant.
Ultimately, I did this to inspire people to conserve our native mammals and indeed the rest of the wonderful animals we share our planet with, to show that there is hope if everyone does their bit in conserving the natural world.
Note from the Mammal Society:
We are extremely grateful to individuals like Andrew who have gone out of their way to raise much-needed funds. Unlike most organisations monitoring Britain’s wildlife, we receive no central government funding for our core work. Our activities to halt the decline of threatened species, monitor their conservation status and advise on issues affecting British mammals, depends entirely on the generosity of our supporters.
If you have been inspired by Andrew’s story why not take action today and do something to fundraise for the Mammal Society? Whether it is a cake sale or a sponsored swim, whether you raise £5 or £500, we would love to hear from you. You can fundraise via our Just Giving page here via our Virgin Money Giving page here or simply donate via the button at the top of this page. Be sure to drop us a line to let us know your plans and we can help you promote it on social media, or simply let us know how you’ve done. Email us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.